zesty beef soup: a perfect model for other soups

     One way to increase your recipe repertoire is by using a basic recipe and changing the key ingredients to make an entirely new dish. This also helps to avoid the boredom of preparing the same thing over and over. Plus it makes you look very smart and accomplished in the kitchen!
     The following recipe is one that can be used to create an infinite number of soup variations. By using a different stock and meat combination, the style, taste and characteristics of the original are transformed into a brand new soup! I am including two ground beef variations. Whether making your own stock or buying one at the store, many options are readily available. In the organic section of the supermarket you can find not only beef and chicken stocks, but also vegetable, seafood and mushroom stocks. These are rich, not watery and ready to serve.

zesty beef soup
1 quart (or 2- 15 oz. cans) beef stock, preferably homemade
1 pound, lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 bag, frozen mixed vegetables (a mixture such as corn, carrots, and green beans)
2 cans, Italian stewed tomatoes
1 t. dried oregano
½ c. uncooked noodles, any type
Brown ground beef and onion in large soup pot. Drain and return to pot. Add all ingredients except noodles. Simmer 15 minutes. Add noodles and cook until tender. Serve with salad and bread for a healthy, hearty meal.

The quantities in this soup recipe make it easy to substitute other items for a different result. As long as you stick with the amounts used, the sky’s the limit when it comes to creativity. This recipe serves four hearty eaters or six smaller appetites. Since most of the ingredients are cooked, canned or frozen, it can be easily doubled or tripled.
southwestern beef
Substitute plain or southwest style stewed tomatoes for Italian tomatoes in original recipe. Add 1 can of chili beans instead of mixed veggies. Omit oregano and add some cumin and/or fresh cilantro. If you wish, you can use rice instead of noodles or pasta.

This Italian vegetable soup is meatless. Start by sautéing the onion and one clove of minced garlic. Add one quart of vegetable stock or water, 2 cans Italian stewed tomatoes and 1 can of cannelini (white) beans. Carrots, potatoes, corn, zucchini, peas and green beans can be included. Just keep the amount of veggies roughly equal to one another. Add a few pieces of chopped, fresh rosemary. Ditilani (small, cut) pasta works well with this soup, but stars or alphabets are fun, too.

Note:  If you are not a fan of the cow, this recipe can be altered. Ground turkey may be used instead of the pound of ground beef in any variation. Frozen, fajita-seasoned chicken breast is readily available in the freezer section of the food stores. This meat gives great flavor to Mexican or southwestern inspired dishes, is quick and convenient. You will want to adjust broth selection to match meat. Any soup can be made into a meatless or vegetarian meal. Vegetable or mushroom broth is an alternative to chicken or beef stock. Beans are a great source of protein and can be a substitute for meat.


  1. Susan, your recipes usually call for 1/2 cup of noodles, it just does not seem like much. How many servings will this make.

  2. Don't be fooled... the noodles grow and grow! the first time I made it, I thought exactly the same thing and added an entire cup. needless to say, it was all pasta.
    Depending on who you are feeding, it serves around six, more if they are light eaters. if you are cooking for two, make the entire recipe, remove half to a freezer container BEFORE adding noodles. Add only 1/4 cup of noodles to remaining portion. Freeze remainder, adding noodles after reheating. This way the noodles are fresh.