Hobo Stew: A $10.40 EZ dinner

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¢
carrots 89¢
4 potatoes 63¢
celery 79¢
cabbage 99¢
sausage w. coupon $2.99
tomato juice $3.79

Total $11.57        8 servings @ $1.44 each.

Please make, rate, and review our recipe of Hobo Stew

Print just the recipe

Share your versions, ideas and comments below. We want to know what YOU are thinking!

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. mumpy

    i’d bet this is one of those recipes with as many names and variations as there are cooks!…we called it ‘campfire stew’ and used a can of soup for the liquid….chicken with rice, beef barley, depended on the leftovers…..it occurs to me now that you could probably do the same thing with water, bullion cubes and a handful of rice or barley….himself isn’t partial to stew, so i don’t make this, but i do remember eating it growing up.

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      My mum always called it Garbage Soup and it was one of my favorite after school snacks in the fall and winter. ~ MJ

  2. Kerry

    That Anadama is gorgeous! On the recipe page it’s just in a loaf pan–what pan did you use for this loaf?

  3. Allstonian

    Garbage Soup! My grandmother made a version, somewhat different, that I christened Garbage Soup. Her version was based on stewing beef, and the beef was browned and then put through an old-fashioned hand-cranked meat grinder, as were all of the veggies – carrots, potatoes, onion, cabbage, turnip, and tomatoes are the ones I remember. We would set a bowl under the handle end of the grinder to catch the plentiful juice (as well as the bowl on the front to catch the ground-up meat and veggies.) Put it all in a big pot and add water, and simmer until tasty. I haven’t made it in forever – I may have to remedy that!

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      Good think I happen to own an old-fashioned meat grinder, that sounds delish! Thanks for sharing! ~ MJ

  4. auntdeb2000

    This would probably be pretty good with a package of broccoli slaw substituted for the cabbage. Or, shred your Brussels sprouts.

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      Brilliant! I never thought of the broccoli slaw. See? Just goes to prove it takes a village to fill a kitchen! ~ MJ

  5. Margy

    Sorry, my computer glitched. We called it garbage soup when we were kids, then started calling it Molly soup (after my youngest niece who loves it). There’s a funny cookbook “The Crabby Cook” by Jessica Harper where she describes her mother making this using everything left in the fridge, and how someome found a leftover hotdog with tooth marks in their portion. That’s taking it a little too far!;)
    It is a great way to use all those CSA veggies that you don’t get around to eating, and freezes well too.

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      Wow, that would be something to talk about over the dinner table, eh? ~ MJ

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      The beauty shot stew was one batch where I forgot my green beans! I think the green of the veggies really makes the dish more colorful. ~ MJ

  6. M. Sweeney

    I made this for a “quiet get together” of myself and my closest friends. I added a bit of beef stock to make the stew more”Slurpee.” I love it, they loved it!! And I have left overs!
    They brought a book – King Arthur’s 200 anniversary cookbook that Jim found at a thrift store. The best “gift” I ever got! Everything from fruit to nuts, and I still haven’t read it all! I noticed that the bread recipes don’t have the instructions for the bread machine, and that (for the most part), the yeast is “proofed”. How do I adapt these recipes to the bread machine? Some call for 6-8 C. of flour- my machine will only do a little more than 4 C. I usually use the machine to the dough stage. Any advice you can give is greatly appreciated. M.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hello M. Sweeney – It is nice to hear you are enjoying the 200th Anniversary Cookbook! You may use instant yeast in place of active dry yeast 1:1. When using a bread machine and going from active to instant, some bakers will cut back the instant yeast slightly to avoid a faster rise – your call! It is not necessary to proof active or instant yeast, just add to the other ingredients. Just cut back the recipe by half or 1/3 to accommodate your 4 c. capacity machine. We have some great Bread Machine Tips on our site. Take a look and good luck! Elisabeth@KAF

  7. Ricardo Neves Gonzalez- SENAC- Petrópolis, R.J.-BRAZIL

    This Hobo stew remind me a kind of stew Brazilians use daily to fill hot dog buns! Here at Brazil are common mini vans parked at corners of almost big, medium and small cities where you could choose an assortment of veggies to be paired with sausage and tomato sauce. I really don´t like these street hot dogs. There´s a lot of veggies like carrots, lettuce, sweet corn, pickles and much more to be added at tomato sauce with sausage. The problem is that bread where they try to fill are small enough and of BAD QUALITY. So, the fill dries out of the bread and spread all over our hands as an unpleasant act of eat that comfort food.
    I really prefer a Hobo Stew with just one or two veggies, and a delicious homemade bread such Hoaggies and Submarines based on that Cuban Bread Recipe you had published years ago, and big enough to support all of the sauce filling we want! Nice Post!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We are happy you enjoyed this blog Ricardo! It is always nice to hear an international perspective! Thank you! Elisabeth@KAF

  8. sherri nelson

    I am going to try making about 1/2 of this in my mini crockpot for our travel trailer. Would I have to sauté the vegies first as suggested in the recipe? I will of course do the sausage to reduce fat. This sounds perfect to come back to the camp after a long day.
    Also I am subscribed to Bountiful Baskets which supplies us with new and different vegies that I am always wondering what to do with them. Thank you!!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I’m glad to hear we could help you find a good use for all your fresh veggies…I’m sure they will make your stew extra delicious! I would still recommend sautéing the veggies first and I hope you enjoy your trip! Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

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