28 September 2011

Fitting Russian Ingredients to an American Favorite



I wish we could’ve brought more of these babies home!  This post goes a long way in explaining my weakness for all things tomato! 

We kids were ecstatic when we saw tomatoey Carrigan Hamburgers cooking for supper.  Mom got the recipe from our next door Maplewood neighbor, Peggy Carrigan.

Dickie Lynde, a childhood friend from across the way, using Facebook, sent this recipe which he had spotted in a 1960s recipe book of the Prospect Presbyterian Church.

On reading his message, I wondered if I could replicate our 1950s family favorite.  I was surprised to find a faded card in Mom’s recipe box for that same tasty supper of 60 years ago. Why not add it to my small repertoire of kitchen magic?


A Condensed Soup Substitution...

The recipe stipulates an undiluted can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup.  I knew no such critter is available, thanks to [hotlink] the Mendeleyev Journal’s great coverage of what’s happening in Russia.

This June, Campbell’s abandoned its marketing here, focusing more on China. Russians do not have the same expedient attitude about soup that Americans do.  Here soup is made from scratch, and no amount of savvy advertising was able to persuade many to skip cooking steps.

In 2005, two years before marketing started in Russia, Campbell’s hired cultural anthropologists to watch soup preparation in Moscow apartments,  and ask questions.  They hoped they could manipulate the Russian consumer, but they failed.

American fickleness...

They were slowly winning some market share, but not fast enough to suit American impatience and short term accounting.  I’m happy they weren’t able to subvert Russian soup culture.

Poetic and woolly...

Campbell’s CEO Douglas Conant was woolly  about Campbell’s new Russian adventure... but his facts were off, claiming soup  was the earliest cooked food, even before bread!  He told Kai Ryssdal of NPR Marketplace...  

 "...[I]t's such a core behavior. Not just in the United States, but really globally.  It is in every culture. Soup is one of the oldest foods they have. After they would slay the wooly mammoth, they would boil the bones and make soup. It's before bread; it's before any other prepared food. It's meat . . . vegetables . . . soup. That's what they made. And it's deeply embedded in virtually every culture around the world; and there's just great growth potential wherever you go."

 [Hotlink] Why Campbell's Couldn't Crack the World's Second Largest Soup Market, Justin Rohrlich, Minyanville, The Daily Feed, 29 June 2011


“What’s this Campbell’s is saying about me?

Charcoal art by Avian Chicken, Photobucket

It’s surprising that a top executive,  who later made $11,500,000 in 2009, could so garble his information.  Actually, most woolly mammoths disappeared 10,000 years ago, and soup wasn’t even made until 9,000 years ago.  Bread originated around 28,000 BC. 

Campbell’s gave statistics in 2007 that Americans eat soup just once a week, while Russians and Chinese  have soup around 5 times a week.  Larissa says 7 times a week sounds more accurate for Russia.

Bowls of soup!   Source unknown

United States                   Russia                       China

14 billion / year 32 billion 320 billion!
Pop. 312 million Pop. just 143 million Pop. 1.3 billion!

Recently American canned soup consumption  has trended downward.  One wag said that American younger people are now too lazy to use a can opener!  More likely it’s a result of aging demographics and revulsion to Campbell’s reputation for salt, MSG, and other chemical ingredients.  [Hotlink] Business Insider.

Tabatchnik’s or home cooked are better ways to enjoy soup.

Making adjustments for the tomatoes...

I diluted half of a can of tomato paste to a consistency I remember  for American condensed soup.*  Then I added some   spices... garlic, oregano, basil, sweet red pepper, and rosemary.  (Rosemary may reduce the carcinogenic effect of cooked beef.)

* Usually we use simple canned tomato paste with no other ingredients from Krasnodarsky Krai... but this time it wasn’t available and I unwittingly grabbed a can sold by X5 Retail  Group.  It included sugar, salt, a thickener, potassium sorbate, and sodium benzoate.  These may be OK if you or your child aren’t allergic or hyperactive from these chemicals.  

Russian beef is better beef...

Beef is imported or from Russian dairy cows or ( less likely) large scale feed lot production.  Russia is the largest importer of beef in the world. (recently from Europe and Australia) which reflects its historic troubles with raising beef cows. The masses here never have been large-portion meat eaters... especially now when (as in America) all but the rich are getting poorer.

The farsh (chuck chop), we buy from a little butcher has less water and fat than what I recall in America.  Russia wants nothing fed or made with GM grain.

Easy beef adjustment...

Without sufficient fat, it’s necessary to add an occasional  dose of olive or sunflower oil to the frying pan.

Carrigan Hamburger surrounded by seaweed, potatoes, cooked vegetables, with celery and dill trimmings.

Recipe notes...

Our supermarkets often are missing some spices such as dry mustard and thyme...  so I skipped these ingredients this time.  Russian supermarkets are not sharp about keeping items in stock. 

Simmering is the key to a tasty finish. I simmered for around 50 minutes on our (annoying) glass stovetop, sometimes at electric setting .5, but for the last 25 minutes at 1.0.

I noticed someone named this recipe for the church book MacDonald Hamburgers.

Here’s the recipe off the card. 

Carrigan Hamburgers

  • 1 lb chopped chuck
  • Large onion – chopped
  • Bread crumbs
  • Pepper, salt, thyme
  • Dry mustard to taste
  • Egg, beaten with a little milk

Combine above ingredients and shape into patties.  Roll in breadcrumbs and brown.  Pour off any fat in pan.  Cover with 1 can undiluted tomato soup.  Simmer covered ¾ hour.

So, enjoy!  Приятнгово аппетита!  Bon appétit!

Comments here or through the Wibiya strip below are very welcome! 


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Replies
    1. Hi Marie,

      Yes, Russia is relying too much on imports now.

      I saw Rock the Kasbah on Authentic Blogger, Facebook.




Comments, Questions, Ideas