This is the time of year that we start thinking not only about winter and fall comfort food, but also about making sure that others in our community have something warm and wholesome in their bellies. Food banks across the country are about to kick into food-dive mode and thankfully, many of us are feeling more generous with our cash donations and canned goods as we get closer to the holidays.
Right now the Calgary Food Bank is in the middle of an event called OctoberFeast. Participating restaurants in Calgary have accepted a challenge to create dishes that use two or more ingredients from the Food Bank’s list of most needed items, which includes things like pasta, soup, canned fruits and veggies, canned fish and meat, peanut butter, rice and cereal. Some of our favourite local restaurants like Alloy, Avec Bistro, Naina’s Kitchen, Tavernetta, Without Papers and The Beltliner Diner are all participating and they’re really putting out some great dishes. The dishes will all be available until October 15 (that’s the end of this week!)
Last week we tried the Pasta Puttanesca (pictured above) at Provision and it was absolutely delicious. Best of all, part of the proceeds from sales of these special OctoberFeast items go towards putting together hampers at the Calgary Food Bank.
And it also got us thinking… how many Best of Bridge recipes make use of these most needed Food Bank items? The original ladies prided themselves on creating recipes with practical easy-to-find ingredients, so there really are quite a few. You’ll find cereal in our classic Christmas Morning Wife Saver and canned soup in our Classy Chicken. And don’t forget one of our all-time most popular recipes, Hamburger Soup.
This slow-cooker version of Hamburger Soup appears in our Family Slow Cooker book. We took out some of the canned soup, but replaced it with tomato sauce, so it still fits the bill.
- Vegetable oil
- 11⁄2 lbs lean ground beef 750 g
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 carrots, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1⁄2 cup pearl or pot barley 125 mL
- 1 tbsp sugar 15 mL
- 1 tbsp cornstarch 15 mL
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) whole tomatoes, with juice
- 31⁄2 cups 875 mL ready-to-use or homemade beef broth
- 2 cups water 500 mL
- 11⁄2 cups tomato sauce 375 mL
- 2 tbsp soy sauce 30 mL
- In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until starting to brown. Add onion and cook, stirring, until beef is browned and onion is softened. Scrape into a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in carrots, celery, bay leaf, barley, sugar, cornstarch, salt, pepper, tomatoes, stock, water, tomato sauce and soy sauce. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Discard bay leaf.
- Tip: Hamburger soup freezes like a dream! If you’re serving a family of 4 or 5, let half the soup cool after cooking and ladle it into a freezer bag. Pull it out of the freezer and pop it in the fridge in the morning, and it will be thawed in time for dinner. Pour into a soup pot and reheat.
- Tip: If you insist on doing it the old-fashioned way, omit the sugar, cornstarch, beef stock, tomato sauce and soy sauce, and replace them with three 10-oz (284 mL) cans of beef consommé and one 10-oz (284 mL) can of tomato soup.