As a kid, I lived for Sunday lunches at my Mamaw Roberson's house. She often fixed red beans (that's pintos if you're not from Texas) and let me doctor mine by mixing in cornbread crumbles and plenty of ketchup. Yum! Just thinkin' about those days makes me hungry!
Although it omits my favorite condiment, this pick from 300 Sensational Soups (Robert Rose Inc., October 2012, $24.95) reminds me of that childhood staple. Filling enough for dinner, this meal maker is loaded with ground beef, bacon and vegetables. I'm talkin' beans, potatoes, corn, onion and garlic (Whew!) as well as my favorite tomatoes. Green chilies, cumin and chili powder take the flavor into Tex-Mex territory while crusty cornbread croutons add a satisfying crunch.
You need only about an hour and a half to fix this comfort-food medley. Start by making the cornbread croutons. No iron skillet needed here. Instead, you mix up the cornbread batter, put it in a 9-inch square pan and bake. Once done, it should cool completely while you turn your attention to the meal's centerpiece.
Texas Cowboy Soup comes together quickly after you've chopped some bacon, onion and garlic and peeled and diced two potatoes. Working in a BIG pot, you just cook the bacon (we like it well done), add and brown the beef, and drain off the grease (not specified in the directions but a must in my book). Then it's mainly a matter of opening cans (my specialty!) and measuring spices. Although the recipe calls for 1, 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes (drained) and 1, 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes with green chilies (with juice), I used 3, 10-ounce cans of Rotel tomatoes with green chilies (with juice) to give the soup even more of a charge. Since this upped the amount of tomato juice, I decreased the beef stock to 3 1/2 cups.
While the soup simmers, you can complete the pièce de résistance of this easy, home-cooked meal. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, slice the cornbread into 1-inch squares and place them on a baking pan. I put several squares on a pizza stone to get them nice and crusty and froze the rest (before the second baking). Although Bob and I could've eaten a full pan of these tasty tidbits at one sitting, we sure didn't need the temptation!
To become dried and crispy, the croutons must bake about 20 minutes. When they're done, move them to a wire rack to cool, keeping in mind that they have to be eaten within three hours. But that should be no problem because your stew should be ready about that time.
What a treat! We absolutely adored this hearty, kid-, man- and mom-pleasin' sensation. With 8 to 10, soul-warming servings, you just might have enough to delight the entire family on more than one occasion. Just freeze any leftovers. They taste even better the second go-round!
In a large pot, sauté bacon over medium heat until starting to brown. Add ground beef and sauté, breaking up with the back of a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, onion, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper; sauté until onion starts to soften, about 3 minutes.
Add potatoes, beans, both cans of tomatoes and stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes. Add corn and simmer for 10 minutes.
Ladle into heated bowls and garnish with croutons.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together egg, milk and oil. Add to the cornmeal mixture and stir just until blended. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Turn cooled cornbread out of pan and cut into 1-inch squares. Transfer to baking sheet and bake until dried and crispy, about 20 minutes. Let cool on sheet on a wire rack and use within 3 hours.
Other Works: Artisan baker Carla Snyder and her co-author Meredith Deeds are both accomplished food writers who teach cooking.
Publisher: Robert Rose Inc.
Penned: Oct. 31, 2012
What's Inside: This must for soup lovers includes soul-warming recipes for every season and occasion. You'll find summer-perfect chilled numbers (Bloody Mary Soup), garden fresh favorites (Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup) and cheesy classics (Broccoli and Cheddar Soup) as well as meal-maker options like filling Burgundy Beef Soup, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, and more. With hundreds of choices, it's a natural go-to when you're craving comfort food.
Time Out: 416 pages
Available: $24.95 at Amazon and most book retailers
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