The Daley Question

Mom's meatball soup recipe found

But you need many cans to make it

Meatballs

Meatballs (Chris Walker / Chicago Tribune / March 18, 2013)

Q: I am looking for an old meatball soup recipe (probably from the mid-'60s). I call it a soup recipe only because it had a broth rather than a gravy-based liquid mixture. It had tomatoes, celery, carrots, and potatoes and was quite delicious.

I believe it can from the Sunday magazine insert but I could be wrong. It sat tucked inside my mother's cookbook but was discovered missing when we cleaned out her house a few years back. I was always hoping to get it but no one seems to acknowledge that they took it. Hoping you can help.

—Michael White, Chicago

A: I think I found it! There's a recipe for a meatball stew in a Campbell's Soup ad that ran in the Chicago Tribune on Nov. 7, 1965, and Feb. 13, 1966, according to the newspaper archives.

Much of the ad is made up of a color photograph of the stew. It looks quite chunky but the image is hard to see in the archive's black and white reproduction. Equally hard to read is the text superimposed over a portion of the photograph. I think the copy says: "New Speedy Stew" and "Soup gives it the flavor of a 3 hour masterpiece." And maybe soup does, but what strikes me about this recipe is how busy your can opener will be in the making of it. Nearly every ingredient, including the vegetables, is from a can.

Using all these cans was OK in the mid-1960s. It was, after all, the age of "convenience." But, I'm not so sure cooks would use so many canned products today.

Now, I'm not a can snob. I still love canned ravioli, canned vanilla pudding, canned green beans, canned creamed corn and canned corned beef hash — all foods of my 1960s youth. And I'll gladly use a quality canned or boxed broth in cooking. But, geez, there's 5 cans called for in the recipe.

My suggestion? Make the recipe as called for. See what you think (have an alternative menu handy just in case). Don't be upset if the flavor isn't quite how you remember. Taste buds and memories change. Your mother could have doctored the recipe over the years. Who knows? Then, perhaps, begin making changes to the recipe to suit your current sensibilities. I'd start by subbing out the canned vegetables for fresh. See what you think. Let me know.

Meatball stew

Makes: Six servings

A meatball stew recipe from a Campbell's Soup advertisement from the mid-1960s. It has not been tested, nor have generic products been subbed for the specific Campbell's products named in the recipe.

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 cup small bread crumbs

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons shortening

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's Tomato Soup

1 can Campbell's Beef Broth

1/4 teaspoon thyme, crushed

1 can (1 pound) sliced carrots, drained

1 can (1 pound) whole white potatoes, drained

1 can (8 ounces) small whole white onions, drained

1.Mix beef, egg, bread, onion, and salt; shape into 24 meatballs. Brown in shortening in skillet; pour off fat. Add remaining ingredients. Cook over low heat 20 minutes; stir now and then. Top with chopped parsley.

Do you have a question about food or drink? E-mail Bill Daley at: wdaley@tribune.com. Snail mail inquiries should be sent to: Bill Daley, Chicago Tribune, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago 60611. Twitter @billdaley.

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