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Monday, February 15, 2010

The Cook Book Challenge/Super Hamburger Soup

We have a problem at our house. We are addicted to cook books. We have a special place in our kitchen for our cook book library, but it is overflowing. We have already weeded out the duplicates--cookbooks that Bob and I both had copies of when we married. But we've slowly acquired enough that there's no more room in the cook book cupboard.
You see what I mean. Some of these cookbooks have never actually been used; others have not been used for a very long time. Our challenge for the next year (or two): weed out the collection by trying recipes from each and every one of them. Those that have at least one worthwhile recipe will be kept; others will be tossed (or more likely, given away).

The first candidate is Lion House Recipes Lite by Melba Davis, published in 1996. The Lion House is a cafeteria-style comfort food restaurant in Salt Lake City. It has nostalgic value for a lot of locals, and also is known for the quality of its homestyle food. I think my sister gave me this cook book several years ago as a gift--it's a copy signed by the author, even. But it's been severely underutilized in our house.

This book may be out of print, but there are a number of copies available on Amazon for as little as $2.98 plus shipping. I tried the Super Hamburger Soup because it sounded hearty but healthy, and also because it used ingredients that we had on hand. There are a number of other recipes that I marked to try in upcoming weeks, though. So I think this book is already a keeper.

We all agreed that the soup was good, but not destined to become a family favorite. The hamburger made it a little boring. But it was delicious on a cold night and filled everyone up--not always easy to do on soup night.

Super Hamburger Soup
1 1/2 pounds extra-lean ground beef
2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cans (14.5 ounces) chopeed stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
4 cups water (I substituted beef broth because I was afraid the soup wouldn't be flavorful enough)
4 medium carrots, sliced
2 large potatoes, diced
1 can (16 ounces) corn, undrained (I substituted two cups of frozen corn)
1 can (15 ounces) red kidney beans, undrained
1 can (15 ounces) baby lima beans or garbanzos, undrained
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 zucchini, sliced

Cook ground beef, onions, celery, and green pepper in a large pot until meat is brown and crumbly and onion is translucent. Drain. Add tomatoes with liquid, tomato paste, water, carrots, potatoes, corn, kidney beans, lima beans or garbanzos, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 20 minutes. Add zucchini and cook another 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Makes 12 servings.

The recipe encouraged experimentation with herbs such as basil, marjoram, thyme and bay leaves in order to add more flavor; I added a little bit of each of them (well, actually quite a lot of basil), and it made for a richer soup.

Now on to the cook book challenge!

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