Depression Era Recipes: Hoover Stew

My Mom made a lot of Great Depression Era recipes when I was growing up. My Mom was a War Baby (born during WWII) and picked up the recipes from people she knew who were older, especially as my Dad was born in the Depression years. When I was young we lived more like it was 1930’s, than it was the early 1980’s. We didn’t have a TV, and lived rural. And we were broke more often than not. My Mom made meals that my Dad would eat….and lets just leave it that my Dad didn’t like Fusion foods or anything well seasoned. My Dad’s Dad and his second wife lived on our land, so my Mom cooked for 6 people daily. Normally 3 meals a day. So cheap and filling was the goal.

Hoover Stew was a classic dish that fed many mouths out of a pot. It honestly is pretty good, especially if you add in herbs and garlic to it (which if you had a garden, you would have on hand). As a child we would have had it bland due to my Dad.

Originally the recipe was made with whole canned or stewed canned tomatoes, that you’d break up. It’s far better with crushed canned tomatoes, which give a sauce instantly. I used uncured turkey dogs to make the meal less fatty. I am not a huge hot dog fan, and the turkey is usually less salty, and less hot-doggy flavored.

Hoover Stew


  • 16 ounces small pasta shapes (macaroni was the choice then)
  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes (15 to 16 ounces) (stewed was called for)
  • 1 can sweet corn (15 to 16 ounces)
  • 1 can pinto beans (15 to 16 ounces)
  • 1 pack hot dogs (16 ounces)
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, diced


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, cook pasta for time on package. Drain and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, slice the hot dogs into coins, add to a large saucepan. Add the tomatoes, the corn with its liquid, and the beans (drain and rinse first). Stir in the seasonings.

Bring to a simmer, and it is fully heated.

Once the pasta is drained, add the sauce and stir well.

Serve with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on – which wasn’t part of the recipe – but really adds a nice flavor.

Serves 6.