Growing up, dinner was usually cooked out of necessity, what my parents had shopped for that week and had on hand became dinner, there was no running to the store for a forgotten ingredient that’s for sure.
My Mum did had a knack for creating dinner magic with a pound of ground beef. One week it may be simple spaghetti and meatballs, the next stuffed cabbage rolls baked in a savory tomato sauce. One dinner that stands out for me though as “So Mum”, is her Macaroni and Beef Soup.
Yesterday, with dinner looming, an abbreviated pantry, allowing for food restrictions and preferences here, we decided to whip it up for dinner with just a few changes to her recipe.
Usually you would start with browning the meat, adding the vegetables and aromatics to the same pot to capture all that flavor, then add stock and canned tomatoes, finishing by cooking the pasta in the same pot. We cooked and kept the ground meat, in this case turkey, separate here so the vegan gal in the house could also have soup for dinner.
To amp up the flavor we added garlic cloves and some plum tomatoes that we roasted in the oven for some extra umani, not to mention the tomatoes were showing their age.
Then we used a mixture of the dwindling cache of vegetable stock and some water, instead of chicken broth. With no elbow noodles, we substituted brown rice shells, cooked separately from soup and scooped into each bowl with the finished soup to retain the texture of the noodles.
Other than all that, it tastes just like Mum used to make…..
- 6-8 cloves of garlic, skin intact
- 3-4 plum tomatoes (optional)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon salt
- a few grounds of fresh pepper
- 1 lb ground turkey/chicken/beef
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3-4 medium carrots, chopped
- 3-4 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 - 16 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 32 oz of vegetable stock/chicken/water
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- 12 oz macaroni or other small pasta shape, cooked separately
- grated parmesan cheese for serving
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Grab a small oven proof pan and add 2 tablespoons of the oil, add the garlic cloves and garlic. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.
Bake approx. 15 mins or until the garlic and tomatoes have softened. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
In the meantime in a large stockpot add remaining olive oil and heat over medium heat.
Add the onion and a salt/pepper, cook 3-5 minutes, until soft and fragrant.
Add ground beef/turkey/chicken and spices, breaking meat up into small pieces, continue to cook until meat mostly cooked.
If making vegetarian or vegan cook meat in a separate pan and reserve.
Now add the carrots, celery, stock, and tomatoes. Stir to incorporate.
Grab the reserved roasted garlic and tomatoes, chop up the tomatoes and add to soup. Fish the garlic cloves out of their skin and mash with a fork then add to soup as well.
Bring soup to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook 10-15 minutes.
In the meantime get a big pot of water to boil and add your pasta, cook according to package directions (I always cook 1-2 mins less) .
Drain pasta and leave in colander.
Remove bay leaf from soup, scoop pasta into bottom of soup bowl, ladle soup over top and garnish with parmesan cheese.