Does anyone else make sloppy joes with minestrone soup?

The first time I ever ate a Manwich sloppy joe, I thought it was so weird — and definitely not a sloppy joe. It’s not that I’m a snob about food the comes out of a can. It was because, growing up, this is how my family made sloppy joes:

  • Cook some minced onion and add ground beef and brown it, then drain the fat.
  • Pour in one can of minestrone soup.
  • Add a healthy squirt each of ketchup and mustard.
  • Cook until the soup is reduced and the mixture is thick enough to hold together on a bun.

The result is very different from the sweet, tomatoey meat mixture that comes out of a Manwich can or that you get from most from-scratch sloppy joe recipes. For most of my adult life, though, I’ve tended to forsake my culinary heritage and instead make “proper” sloppy joes. (Recipes I’ve tried include Sam Sifton’s no-recipe sloppy joe recipe and one in Cook’s Illustrated, and one whose source I can’t remember that involved just tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and spices added to meat cooked with onions.)

But recently, I started thinking fondly back to the sloppy joes of youth. After all, aren’t these the recipes that have made me who I am today? So I cooked a batch. And I’ve got to say: they are really good. They are much less sweet and more meaty than standard joes, and it’s kind of a fun surprise when you encounter a bean or a bit of pasta in your sandwich.

It also got me thinking: Where did this recipe come from? Is this recipe a regional passed on through the generations in my family? (Couldn’t be that many generations, though, since per Wikipedia the sloppy joe was invented in the 1930s.) Or did my grandma just decide to make a recipe from a magazine one day and it stuck? An internet search didn’t yield any quick answers, though some people do apparently make “soupy joes” using various canned soups. (This “Minnesota Sloppy Joe” recipe uses, what else, cream of mushroom soup.)

Does anyone else make sloppy joes with minestrone?

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