Ah, the Ides of April. The taxman cometh, death and taxes, etc., etc., etc. I promise you I was honest on my tax return, but I’ve already fibbed in this post. I’ll tell you where my little white lie lies at the end.
I’ll be honest, too, that when the idea of a Hobo Stew post came up in our blog planning meetings, I had never heard of it. Having taught pre-school for years, I was very familiar with Stone Soup, but not a clue about the stew.
Fellow blogger PJ sent me some online links to get me started, and I was relieved to see that Hobo Stew and Stone Soup had a lot in common. Each takes the ingredients you have on hand and combines them with a flavored base to create a unique but similar dish each time. Many of us remember our moms making this type of soup or stew before grocery day, as a way to use up all the leftover bits and bobs in the fridge.
Keep in mind this type of Hobo Stew is different than the packets of meat and veggies cooked over the campfire that share the same name. The concept is absolutely the same, though, so if you love those pouches of fire-baked goodness, you’ll love this stew, too.
Before we go too much further, let me share a photo with you.
Wow, that’s a lot of veggies.
The day before I was to make my first test batch of stew, I got a visit from Rosie, King Arthur Flour’s assistant product purchaser (a.k.a. queen of kitchen gadgets). She was going to be testing out new food processors and wanted to know if I needed anything chopped, shredded, or sliced.
Boy howdy! What a great way to get the veggies for my stew prepared, and all without lifting a knife. I rattled off my list of potatoes, onions, carrots, etc. and said I’d check in later.
Well, you can see the results above. I returned to the kitchen to find the biggest bowl of chopped crops that you’ve ever seen. In fact, I had to divide it in half PLUS give some away to a fellow baker to make it more manageable. The resulting 16 quarts of stew fed folks in the employee kitchen for days, plus became our lunch at the photography studio as well. Truly the essence of “use what you have” at work.
Most of us don’t need 16 quarts of stew, so the recipe as written will make about 2 quarts.
Start with fresh, crisp aromatics in a large stock pot.
1 medium onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 small package shredded carrots (about 2 cups)
1 small package shredded cabbage (I used a bag of prepared coleslaw, no dressing)
Sauté in a little oil or even water until the veggies start to wilt but haven’t browned.
Add 4 medium-sized boiling potatoes, chopped. The starchy potatoes will help thicken the stew. (BTW, peels on or peels off, it’s up to you).
You can really use any meat in the stew. We’re big fans of smoky sausages in stew, like this kielbasa.
A nice spicy chorizo would be delish, but cook out a little of the fat first. Chicken, ground beef, turkey, even TVP can be used.
Once you have all of your veggies and meat in the pot, add one 48-ounce bottle of tomato/vegetable juice, (e.g., V8). The liquid should just cover the solids in the pot. Add a bit of water or juice if you need extra liquid.
Cover the pot, and cook the stew over medium-low heat for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and the meat is fully cooked. This recipe can also be made in a slow cooker set on high heat for 3 to 4 hours, or low heat for 8 hours.
At the last minute I remembered a package of frozen green beans I had, so into the pot they went, for color. I wish I’d had a package of Brussels sprouts; I think they would have been a nice hearty addition to my smoky medley.
Ah, the beauty shot from the photo studio. Believe you me, once this was taken we dove right in and polished most of it off. The rest went back to the kitchen for potluck on the weekend. Waste not, want not, right?
The bread, the bread, don’t forget the bread!
No hearty stew dinner is complete without big hunks of bread for sopping up the remnants in the bowl. I have to say our New England Anadama Bread is my favorite accompaniment.
Queue up a nice bottle of beer or cider and you have a meal fit for a hobo, or a king, or anyone in between, even a fibber like me.
Did you forget that I fibbed at the beginning of the post? Actually I fibbed in the title. My 2 quarts of stew cost a little bit more than $10.40, but there’s no tax form 1157, so I I fudged the numbers a bit. Here’s the real breakdown, based on prices at my local grocery store, and one good coupon.
1 onion 50¢
frozen green beans 99¢
4 potatoes 63¢
sausage w. coupon $2.99
tomato juice $3.79
Total $11.57 8 servings @ $1.44 each.
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