gumbo joes

Sometimes, I am a giant hypocrite. I’m constantly talking about not using canned or processed items, making my own ingredients when it calls for such …

Et cetera, Et cetera, Et cetera.

et cetera

I didn’t know what a real sloppy joe was until I had dinner at a friend’s house and her mom made some. When the sandwich appeared in front of me in all its sweet, tomato-y glory, I gave it a suspicious look but held my tongue. The teachings of my sweet southern Mama didn’t allow for complaints or questions.

Somehow, I choked down that Manwich, politely insisted I was really quite full when offered another, and left feeling as though my world had just been knocked slightly off kilter. It would be years before I got to the root of my confusion. I wanted to make sloppy joes for my own children, but I wanted Mama’s version. So I called her.

Turns out there was a very simple explanation. She didn’t use Manwich or any other canned sloppy joe mix; she used a can of Campbell’s chicken gumbo soup.

I made it immediately, of course, and sighed with pleasure. There’s no messing with the stuff of childhood. My own children were less impressed. The looked at it suspiciously and then looked at me. By that time, they’d had lots of sloppy joes the other way …

I tried duplicating the flavor of the Campbell’s chicken gumbo, but there’s no getting around it. And sometimes, I still want this. So here is my hypocritical recipe. Enjoy.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 can Campbell’s condensed chicken gumbo soup
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • Pepper to taste
  • Hamburger buns

Crumble the beef into a skillet and cook it with the onion until well-browned. Break up the meat into the smallest coarse crumbs you can manage. Drain the fat. Add the soup, mustard and pepper. Stir to combine and cook until bubbly.

Toast the hamburger buns (with butter, if you’d like … yum.) Spoon a good portion of the beef mixture onto a bun and enjoy.

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