Grandma Isabel’s Quick Comfort Food Dinner

Grandma Isabel's Great Depression Dinner

Grandma Isabel’s Great Depression Dinner

Otherwise known as Hamburger Gravy over Mashed Potatoes! If this sounds like basic comfort food, you would be right. Isabel told me this recipe was developed out of necessity during the Great Depression as it takes a pound of hamburger and stretches it out to feed up to eight people. Isabel used a basic roux for the base, which is the least expensive way to rock this recipe; however, I figured out that cream of mushroom soup speeds up the process without losing any flavor.

Grandma Isabel’s Quick Comfort Food Dinner
Recipe Type: Quick, Simple, Comfort
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 or more
  • 1 -oz. package Pacific Organic Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 1/2 c. rice milk
  • OR
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 1/2 c. rice milk
  • ++++++++++++++++
  • 1 pound hamburger or ground turkey, chicken
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 T. EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 t. garlic powder
  • 2 t. ground rosemary
  • 1 t. ground red pepper (optional)
  • 1 t. ground paprika
  • 1 cup rice milk
  • 1 cup roughly chopped parsley (1/2 cup for cooking, 1/2 cup for garnish)
  • 1 large potato for each person, plus one for the pot, peeled and chopped into similar-sized chunks
  1. Put the potato chunks into a pot and fill with water to just below the top of the potatoes. Put on the stove under a medium flame to begin cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, put a large skillet (cast iron for the win!) over a medium flame. Add EVOO, mushrooms and onions. Cook till softened, about 5 minutes. Add chopped garlic and continue sauteing until the aroma develops. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Add hamburger (or whatever ground meat you choose) to the pan and saute till generally evenly browned.
  4. If you are using cream of mushroom soup: Add the sauteed veggies back into the pan with the meat. Add the cream of mushroom soup, rice milk, and the spices. Stir till blended completely and turn the heat to a low simmer. Adjust seasonings as desired. (I always add in MORE garlic and red pepper, but I like the heat!)
  5. If you are making a roux: Turn the heat DOWN to low and melt the butter in the pan. Add the salt and flour and stir to make a buttery paste. Over low heat, continue stirring the flour/butter mixture until it begins to gently brown. Do not let the mixture get beyond a warm golden color.
  6. Turn the heat completely off. Begin incorporating the rice milk into the flour mixture a tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly and vigorously after each addition until the mixture is smooth. I use a wire whip at this stage as it helps incorporate the milk into the cooked flour more evenly. Continue until all the milk is incorporated.
  7. Important to know: A lumpy roux is caused by too much heat and adding the liquid into the flour mixture too rapidly. What can you do if you get lumps? Break out the immersion blender! Yes, I occasionally get lumps because I’m tired or in a hurry and the immersion blender becomes my best friend! HA!
  8. After the milk is completely incorporated, you will have a thick white gravy. Kick that baby up with the spices, meat, and veggies! Let it simmer while you drain the potatoes and mash them.
  9. Note: To feed more people, double the soup/roux-milk mixture and add in more veggies or tempeh.
  10. Serve with a green veggie or salad.
The Pacific brand of Cream of Mushroom soup is gluten-free. If you want to make the roux, substitute corn starch for the flour and decrease the amount to /4 cup.[br][br]Can be made vegetarian by substituting tempeh for the meat and adding an additional cup of vegetable broth.


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  1. We did this at home over egg noodles and it was called “Stroganoff” πŸ™‚

  2. When the apocalypse comes what will we do w/o Cream of Fungus Base? πŸ™‚


      Hahahahaaaaa! Well, I guess we’ll have to make it the old-fashioned way. just don’t separate me from my immersion blender and all will be well.

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