Grandmama’s Soup

Does this cold weather make you crave warm comfort food? It certainly does for me! The colder the air, it seems, the greater my hankering for soup. One of my favorites is affectionately known in my family as “Grandmama’s Soup”. It’s perfect for a quick meal on a cold night!

My great-grandmother lived in a small town in rural Oklahoma and was raising a family during the Great Depression. Needless to say, this encouraged a certain degree of frugality and resourcefulness!

They say that necessity is the mother of invention….

I’m not sure exactly when she developed this recipe, but the story I’ve heard is that she was searching through the cupboard for something to cook for dinner and just started adding things that she thought would go well together. I can’t even imagine what I’d turn out if I tried to cook that way, but I’m sure it would be a hot mess!

Anyway, she came up with a sort of cross between a soup and a stew and this simple recipe has been passed down to my generation and is a family favorite now. My husband and kiddos love when this is on the menu!

Grandmama's soup ingredients and blue Le Creuset dutch oven.

I’ve tweaked it just a tiny bit by using canned chili instead of brick chili like she originally used. And be sure to read my notes for this recipe. Since she created it with “a little of this and a little of that”, it’s hard to translate into exact measurements and some things you may need to adjust to your particular taste.

A bowl of Grandmama's soup with crackers and cheese.

Here is the recipe for Grandmama’s Soup:

Grandmama's Soup

A hearty chili-based soup/stew.

Course Soup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 8


  • 3 large potatoes (cut into bite sized chunks)
  • 3/4 yellow onion (chopped)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/3 package spaghetti noodles
  • 2 cans Beef with Vegetables and Barley soup
  • 24 oz can Chili with no beans
  • salt and pepper (to taste)


  1. Peel and chop potatoes into bite-sized chunks.

  2. Chop onion to desired size.

  3. Place chopped potatoes and onion into a large pot or dutch oven and add water. Cook on stove over medium-medium/high heat until potatoes are almost done (boiling approximately 8-10 minutes). 

  4. Add spaghetti, beef with vegetables and barley soup, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring back to a boil.

  5. Add chili and simmer until done; stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot occasionally.

Recipe Notes

  • To get a thinner soup, slightly increase the water and/or reduce the simmering time at the end. 
  • For a thicker, more stew-like consistency (this is how I usually make it), allow it to boil/simmer at the end until thickened. 
  • I've found that Wolf Brand Chili will make the soup a bit spicier and Hormel will make it a bit milder. 
  • We always eat this soup with saltines and cheddar cheese on the side.

Grandmama's soup or stew with crackers and cheese.

 I love that this simple recipe was born out of the resourcefulness of my sweet, great-grandmother. And I often think of her when I make it.

hearty soup recipe

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