Today was a soup day. The clear, bright skies of yesterday were transformed today into an ongoing shower of cold, driving rain. The tired aches of a long week, sniffly noses, and dismal weather meant our family was in need of some serious comfort food. I wanted something hearty, but healthy and full of vegetables; something rich and flavorful, but also something the kids would enjoy.
As I ran through the list of ingredients we had in the fridge and the garden, I realized that we had everything needed to make a typical Minestrone… except the beans. I hadn’t thought about soaking any beans. But I did have a pound of thawed ground beef that needed to be used. And so in it went. Now, I’m not sure whether this disqualifies the soup from being Minestrone, but the broken meatballs (which is what our kids call ground beef) seemed like they belonged. This soup was both flavorful and satisfying. Perfect for a rainy day.
Broken Meatball Minestrone
(A modified version of classic Minestrone soup)
1 pound organic, lean ground beef (or grass fed, if you can find it)
1 large jar organic diced tomatoes (approx. 3 cups), or 6-8 large tomatoes, skins removed and pureed
(To learn how to easily remove tomato skins, check out my post, Preparing and Preserving Tomatoes)
6 cups water, or more, (depending on how much the stock reduces while cooking)
1 large onion, diced
4 large carrots, diced
4 ribs of celery, diced
1-2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small green cabbage (approx. 3 cups), finely shredded
3 large leaves Swiss chard, stems and leaves finely chopped
(If you have other vegetables that need to be used, like zucchini or peppers, throw those in too!)
1/4 cup packed chopped parsley
1/4 cup packed chopped basil
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon fresh, minced rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
3 cups cooked macaroni, rotini or other gluten-free pasta (optional)
Freshly grated parmesan for garnish (optional)
Add olive oil to a Dutch oven, and on medium heat, add onions, garlic, carrots, celery and Swiss chard stems, and cabbage, and sauté until translucent.
Add ground beef, and sauté until cooked, breaking the meat up into chunks (broken meatballs :).
Add tomatoes, or tomato sauce, and water. Season with salt, pepper, and rosemary.
Place the lid on the pot and allow to simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring regularly.
Add the parsley, basil and chard leaves and allow to simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
Taste, and adjust the salt, pepper, and water to your preference.
In a separate pot, cook the rice pasta as the directions indicate.
Add pasta to the soup, or serve on the side.
Serve with freshly grated parmesan.
Makes approximately 8-10 (adult) servings.