Originally created 02/09/00

Beefy crowd-pleaser

If your children are like mine, their idea of the perfect dinner is chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese (from the box). I'm always on the lookout for ways to incorporate more vegetables and variety into their meals, and today's recipe for beefy tomato vegetable soup pleases them and their busy mother.

My neighbor Cheryl Salter shared this simple soup with us several years ago, and my children devoured it. The soup simmers until the vegetables are tender. Add some fresh baked corn muffins from a mix, and dinner is ready.

Those on sodium-restricted diets can substitute Healthy Request low-sodium condensed tomato soup.

This soup freezes well, so make extra to keep on hand when cooking is out of the question.

Canned soups are pantry staples and make great bases for more elaborate soups. Make quick clam chowder by combining one can each of condensed potato and cream of celery soup with a can of corn niblets, an undrained can of whole baby clams and a soup can of half-and-half.

Or prepare an easy seafood bisque by combining cans of cream of asparagus and mushroom soups with two soup cans of milk, a can of crab meat, a can of small shrimp and a tablespoon of sherry.

Beefy Tomato Vegetable Soup

1 pound lean ground beef

2 10 3/4 -ounce cans condensed tomato soup (see note)

2 soup cans of water

16 ounces frozen mixed vegetables

Brown ground beef in a Dutch oven or large skillet. Drain fat and return to pan. Add tomato soup, water and mixed vegetables. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Note: Substitute condensed zesty tomato soup or tomato basil soup for a zippier version more suited to adult tastes. For still more flavor, add some chopped garlic to the ground beef when browning it.

Karin Calloway is a Web chef for Viking Range Corp. (www.vikingrange.com) and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can write her in care of Newsroom, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30913. Or send e-mail to karingca@aol.com.


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