Soups like this are kind of tough to give accurate recipes for for a few reasons:
- Everyone’s favorite veggies differ. Where I add a crazy amount of asparagus, you may choose carrots. I won’t judge.
- I don’t write anything down when making soup. I just go with makes sense to me whatever seems right at the time. Hmmm, sounds a lot like the way I live my life, but that’s another story.
- I always start with a large can (or two if I’m making an obscene amount) of tomato juice. I’ve used V8 juice before and it was delicious, I just personally prefer tomato juice. What can I say? I’m simple.
- Ground chuck is the most flavorful way to go, in my opinion, but Grass-Fed Ground Beef is also great. When you brown the beef, just be sure to season it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- While I love onions, when it comes to soup that I know will be warmed-up and enjoyed the next day, I either use shallots, scallions instead of yellow or white onions. They have less of an attitude and don’t try to take center stage. Put another way, they play well with others. Essential in soups…. and salads, for that matter.
- I use either a frozen vegetable mix or cans for the bulk of my veggies. It isn’t about cost and it certainly isn’t about laziness (I live in the kitchen, so a little extra effort doesn’t phase me). It’s all about flavor. When you eat soup that’s composed of huge chunks of vegetables, you get just that in each spoon – a huge chunk of a vegetable and some of the liquid. Maybe some meat if it fits. However, if you use the small pre-cut veggies, many fit onto the spoon at once -giving you layers of flavor in each bite. I dig layers of flavor like Scooby Doo digs Scooby Snacks.
- Toward the end of cooking time, tossing in a little torn kale is a boost of both flavor and nutrients. However, be warned that if you toss it in too soon (and for sure if you’ll be eating leftovers), the lovely green kale will not stay lovely or even green.
- Also, toward the end of cooking, I love to toss in asparagus. First of all, prepare the asparagus by snapping off the end (opposite the pretty little tip, of course) – take the asparagus in your hands and “feel” where the asparagus wants to naturally bend. It’s at this spot you want to snap… yes, even if it seems like a generous amount is coming off. Better that than bite into tough asparagus. Then, cut each asparagus spear into thirds and pop them all into the soup and stir.
- Okay, this is where you’re going to just have to trust me… At the end of the cooking process, stir in a jar of Basil Pesto. O.M.GEE. It takes a delicious soup and makes it otherworldly delicious. When I first tried it, I did so because I wanted to have a little element of Italian flavor. Since then, I do it simply because the flavor is of the addictive variety.
- As for seasonings and flavors, I add salt/pepper/garlic powder/red pepper flakes/parsley to just about everything I make, and soup is no exception. If you add the jar of basil pesto at the end (and you should, you really really really should), you really won’t need much more seasoning than the ones mentioned. Also, although I took a picture before I did the deed this time, shredded Parmesan on top of the production is delicious.
- Okra is a necessity if your making the best vegetable beef soup possible. I buy frozen, but I’d imagine fresh would be great, too.
- This one isn’t a necessity, it’s just how I (personally) roll: I love to have something in my bowl that I serve my soup over. Why? No idea. It’s just one of my many, many quirks that I have (at this point in life) learned to embrace. Quirks are spouses… you can’t always explain them, but you can surely embrace them. My favorite “beds” for soup are pasta, mashed potatoes (use instant if you darn well feel like it), or rice. More about pasta in a minute, but each of these make the soup even more filling and give you that extra “bite” you might be looking for.
Delicious New Gluten-Free Spaghetti I’m Excited About
I was recently sent a couple of boxes of Explore Cuisine Gluten-Free pasta in exchange for telling my food blog readers about them. The first one I tried was the one you see here, Explore Cuisine Chickpea Spaghetti. It was the PERFECT accompaniment to the Vegetable Beef Soup…. especially with the Pesto stirred in.
The first thing I noticed about the Chickpea Spaghetti, after cooking it, was that it is beautifully fat – like my favorite spaghetti noodles of old. Forget that skinny pasta, especially when it comes to serving with chili or soup, it has got to be FAT and this Chickpea Spaghetti is beautifully fat. I also loved that it didn’t clump together the way a lot of spaghetti noodles do. In fact, there was zero clumping and that floated my boat but good.
The moment of truth, of course, was after tasting the pasta…. it was phenomenal. No strong flavor of chickpea at all, which is what I was initially concerned about. Sure, I love chickpeas but I don’t want them disguising themselves as pasta and trying to trick me. The pasta is just outstanding and I plan to buy it regularly. It was spot on perfect with this soup and I’m just as anxious to try it with a great marinara sauce, in a cold spaghetti pasta salad, and (before the season gets away) with chili.
Explore Cuisine products are all vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO and made from organic ingredients. Loaded with protein, iron, and fiber, these pastas are the perfect alternative to other glutinous pastas. If you’re gluten-free, vegan, or simply health-conscious, I hope you’ll check out their lines of pasta. I’ll be reviewing another one of their pastas in a few days. I simply cannot say enough great things about Explore Cuisine. I’m beyond excited to try EACH and every one of their products asap.
You can find the Explore Cuisine Chickpea Spaghetti on Amazon. You will be blown away by this gluten-free pasta.