Happy week of Halloween! We have to have a soup this week, right? I adore soup all the time for one very good reason: leftovers are the best of all the food groups. Anything fried gets mushy, bread-based stuff never reheats well, microwaved leftover veggies are satanic…you get it. Soup always works fresh or reheated, so in these little-kid years if I have time to cook extra on the weekends or early in the day I make soup and then am DONE for a meal later on, usually in the evening when everything has gone to hell, toddler-behaviorally-speaking.
Last year our go-to soup was this sausage kale number, which is still probably one of my favorite things I make ever. This minestrone is on the same playing field with the combination of veggies, meat, and noodles that work so well together. Green beans and beef to me are super delicious, and the base of the soup is tomatoes, stock, and garlic for extra flavor. You could absolutely make this vegetarian with beans instead of beef, or use both for an extra shot of protein.
Start by browning the beef in a big soup pot and prepping the veggies: onion, carrot, celery, green beans, and garlic. You can absolutely use frozen green beans here, you’ll never know the difference. You’ll also need canned crushed tomatoes, beef stock, dried oregano, some short-cut pasta, and water. That’s it! Probably some salt, too.
When the beef is brown and crumbly, add the onion, carrot, and celery to the pot. Stir the veggies into the beef for about five minutes, then add the garlic and stir it in for just a minute or so.
Now, add all the liquids and seasonings to the pot: water, stock, tomatoes, oregano, and a big sprinkle of salt. Cover the pot and let the mixture come to a boil – five minutes or so.
When the liquid is boiling, uncover the pot and add the pasta to the soup. Cover the pot again and reduce the heat to medium. Let the pasta cook for 10-15 minutes until it’s tender but not mushy. This part might take more or less time depending on what kind of pasta you use.
When the pasta is tender, add the green beans and let the soup simmer for 5-10 minutes more, uncovered, until the green beans are just cooked but not mushy. Taste the soup and add more salt to your preference – I added several good pinches here.
And that’s it! Minestrone, done and done. Cooking the pasta in the soup thickens it just slightly and gives a wonderful texture to the soup. This also means that if the soup sits for awhile the pasta may be come mushy, so feel free to cook the pasta separately and stir it in at the end, OR cook the soup all the way up to the pasta-adding step earlier in the day and then cook the pasta in the soup right before you’d like to eat.
I’m a huge fan of tomato-based soups, they’re of course lighter than creamy soups but also balance so well with heavier ingredients like the beef and noodles. I serve this exactly like it is, but some fresh herbs, green onion, or even cheese on top wouldn’t kill anyone.
Also: fresh focaccia for dunking would be PERFECT for your pre-trick-or-treating meal, don’t you think?
A perfect cool-weather soup, done in half an hour and perfectly balanced for a weeknight.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups beef stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 8 ounces dried short cut pasta, any kind you like
- 6 ounces fresh or frozen green beans, cut to 1-inch pieces
- salt, as needed
Preheat a large soup pot to medium heat with the beef and olive oil. Cook the beef for 5-7 minutes, crumbling it with a spoon as it browns.
Add the onion, celery, and carrot with a sprinkle of salt and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for one minute more.
Add the tomatoes, stock, water, and oregano to the soup pot. Cover the pot and bring the soup to a boil, then add the pasta to the pot. Cook the pasta with the pot covered, stirring every few minutes to be sure the noodles don't stick to the bottom of the pot.
Cook the noodles directly in the soup for 10-15 minutes, about 2 minutes longer than the package directions. When the noodles are tender, uncover the pot and add the green beans.
Simmer the soup for 5-10 minutes more until the green beans are barely tender. Taste the soup and add more salt to your preference until it is very flavorful.
Serve immediately. Enjoy!
If making in advance, stop before adding the pasta to avoid it bloating or getting mushy, then cook the green beans and pasta in the soup right before serving. Alternatively, cook the pasta separately and add to the soup as you serve.
Can be made vegetarian: sub 15 ounces canned beans (add at the same time as the green beans) for the beef and veggie stock for beef stock.