This can be a do ahead casserole just pour the ingredients into a casserole dish before you do the final 20 minute simmer and then pop it into a 350F oven 25-30 minutes before serving - put some buttered crumbs on top - I like to serve it over noodles or add cooked macaroni to it for the final simmer - I treat this as a good basic casserole that is tasty as is or even better with your creative touch
When I lived in another state at another time - my now teen boys used to be in Head Start. (This was oh - 9 yrs ago??) ANYWAY! The director made this wonderful soup that the kids loved. It's easy, its fast.. and its good.