Campfire Stew is a hearty meal that kids love, filled with ground beef, potatoes and vegetables. Also known as hobo stew or cowboy stew. This recipe is sponsored by the Ohio Beef Council. As always, all opinions are mine alone.
What is Campfire Stew?
Looking for a well-balanced meal to feed your kids on a busy school night? Look no further than my Campfire Stew recipe! I recently wanted to make vegetable soup with ground beef, and I kept running across the name Campfire Stew (aka Hobo Stew or Cowboy Stew). This is a popular recipe with boy scouts and girl scouts when camping. It’s a delicious and warming stew, perfect for feeding a crowd of hungry campers. This recipe can be taken outdoors and cooked over a fire in a cast iron dutch oven if you want. But this camp stew is really meant to be cooked in your kitchen for a great way to feed your hungry kids on a busy weeknight. This delicious stew is so simple to make and it can be frozen so that you have a meal ready to go at any time.
More kid-friendly beef recipes
Ingredients for Campfire Stew
- Ground Beef – I like Ground Sirloin (90/10) or Ground Round (85/15) for soups, stews and casseroles.
- Butter – You can use olive oil instead if you prefer.
- Onion – Use one large onion, either a cooking onion or a sweet onion, chopped fine.
- Garlic – I prefer to use fresh garlic in this recipe, but you could use a teaspoon of garlic powder instead.
- Tomato Paste – Helps to add depth of flavor to this meaty stew.
- Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Parsley, Thyme – I like fresh herbs for garnish, but I use dried herbs most often for cooking because it saves on prep time and is a more cost-effective option.
- Smoked Paprika – Helps to mimic the smoky flavor you’d get if you cooked this stew over an open fire.
- Worcestershire Sauce – Adds good umami taste to the beef stew.
- Beef Broth – or use beef stock.
- Vegetable Broth – Make the stew a little lighter in my opinion, but you could use all beef stock or broth if you prefer.
- Potatoes – I much prefer to use fresh potatoes in this recipe, but to save time you could use a can of potatoes instead.
- Corn, Carrots, Green Beans – This is a good mix of basic vegetables for the stew. Feel free to substitute add or eliminate with your own favorite vegetables.
- Chopped Tomatoes – I like the petite cut variety of diced tomatoes, or you could replace them with tomato sauce if you prefer.
- Variations – You could make a veggie version of this stew but using all vegetable broth and adding a can of drained cannellini beans in place of the ground beef. You could also add some hot sauce to the stew, or serve it alongside if people want to spice it up.
Instructions for Campfire Stew
In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium high heat. Then add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until fragrant. Add the ground beef and break it up as it cooks. Once the beef is no longer pink, add the tomato paste and all the seasonings (salt, pepper, oregano, parsley and thyme, smoked paprika and Worcestershire sauce). Cook until the tomato paste is well blended into the beef mixture.
Add both the beef broth and vegetable broth, plus the cubed potatoes. Bring the soup to a simmer, cover the soup and cook for about 20 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables – corn, carrots, green beans and the tomatoes. Cover again and simmer the soup for an additional 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are completely tender. If you’d like a thicker soup, whisk in a couple tablespoons of all purpose flour at the beginning, with the melted butter.
Tips from Ohio Beef
- Be sure to choose packages of ground beef that are bright red in color and firm to the touch.
- Store ground beef in your refrigerator for 1-2 days or in your freezer for up to 4 months.
- Beef is an excellent source of high-quality protein, which is one of the most satisfying nutrients. Eating a protein-rich diet will help students feel full and prevent cravings throughout the day.
- For student athletes and active kids, there is no better choice than beef. The protein in beef helps build muscle and provides enough energy to support kids on-the-go.
- Visit www.OhioBeef.org and follow the Ohio Beef Council on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for beef nutrition facts, cooking tips, recipes and to meet Ohio’s beef farming families. Use #OhioBeef to share photos of your healthy meals this school year!
Store stew leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. This recipe freezes well too. So double the recipe and freeze half for later. Allow the stew to come to room temperature and add it to freeze proof containers. In will stay fresh in the freezer for up to one month.
My teenage kids enjoyed this soup topped with a little cheese and sour cream. Plus a good old-fashioned peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the side and some applesauce for dessert. To save time, I pictured an applesauce cup. But my kids love it when I make my Crockpot Applesauce.
- My favorite garlic press for fresh garlic cloves
- Potato peeler and paring knife for preparing the potatoes
- I used a soup pot with glass lid for testing this recipe
- Favorite heat proof spatula for stirring
Slow cooker recipes
- 1 lb ground beef use Ground Sirloin (90/10 lean) or Ground Round (85/15 lean)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 small onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 can (14.5 oz) beef broth
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups potatoes peeled and diced small
- 1 can (15 oz) corn drained
- 1 can (15 oz) carrots drained
- 1 can (15 oz) green beans drained
- 1 can (15 oz) petite cut diced tomatoes undrained
- In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Add the onion and garlic and cook for about one minute, until garlic is fragrant.
- Add the ground beef and cook until the beef is no longer pink, breaking it up as you go.
- Stir in the tomato paste and seasonings - salt, oregano, parsley, thyme, smoked paprika, pepper - and Worcestershire sauce.
- Cook for 1 -2 minutes, until the tomato paste is well combined with the beef.
- Add the potatoes and both the beef broth and vegetable broth. Bring the stew to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Drain and add the corn, carrots, green beans and tomatoes. Cover the pot again and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are completely tender.
- Serve the stew topped with shredded cheese.
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This recipe was originally published on January 2, 2022 and updated for content on November 28, 2023