Must be something about this time of year; the squirrels think they are invited to the bird feeder to eat. This picture is from last January, but all this week I have caught them pigging out, gone onto the porch, rapped on the window, glared at them when they run up the tree, shouted that we aren’t buying bird food for squirrels to eat. Twenty minutes later, repeat scenario. Assuming I see them.
I happened to witness the thievery because I was in the kitchen making soup for tonight. It’s a good day for soup: bitter cold and snowy. This soup is spicy enough to make steam come out of my ears. Like every soup I make, I add things depending on how many it needs to serve or our particular tastes. So I added a can of fire-roasted tomatoes, a medium can of V-8, a handful or so of uncooked shells. Maybe this afternoon something else will go in. My crock pot gets a workout in the winter.
Here’s the original recipe, as published in Just a Matter of Thyme. My book was published in 1992; I’m not sure how the newer edition has changed. It’s very beautifully illustrated — also why I like things by Susan Branch.
Quick Bean Soup
1½ pounds ground chuck
1 onion, chopped
3 (10-oz.) cans minestrone soup
2 (10-oz.) cans Rotel tomatoes and chiles (as hot as you like)
2 (15-oz.) cans Ranch Style beans
Brown meat with onion; drain off fat. Combine everything else in crock pot. Heat on Low for several hours.
More notes: The first time I made this, I couldn’t find Ranch Style beans. No such thing. So I bought regular baked beans, which I still use. The sweetness of these balances the heat.