Tag Archives: slow cooker

Hearty Beef Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup 1

As a polar vortex takes hold of the country, there is nothing more comforting than a bowl of hearty beef minestrone soup and warm homemade bread.

Chock-full of tender ground beef, vegetables, beans, and pasta, this soup is very filling and is especially good topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Minestrone Soup 3

Some of us here are avoiding pasta these days, so I sometimes cook the pasta separately and let people add it to their soup when they dish it up.

This soup also freezes wonderfully. So make a big crock-pot full and set some aside to eat another day. The one thing you need to do when freezing this soup is to freeze the soup WITHOUT the pasta stirred in. Freeze the cooked pasta separately and add the pasta when you reheat the soup. If you freeze the pasta in the soup, it will be mushy when you reheat it.

Minestrone Soup 4

For a delicious bread to serve with your soup, try one of these recipes:

Whole Wheat Bread, or Rolls:

Whole Wheat Bread

Crescent Dinner Rolls:

Crescent Rolls 2

 

RECIPE:

Hearty Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup 3

2 Tbs olive oil
1-2 lb ground beef (use 2 lb for a thick soup)
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups beef broth
1 can white beans, drained
1 small can (6oz) tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Kitchen Bouquet or beef bouillon base
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
1 large carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup small pasta shapes
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

In a large pot, brown ground beef in olive oil; drain excess fat. Add onion and garlic to the pot and cook until tender. Add broth, beans, tomato paste, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, carrots, celery, and cabbage. Bring to a boil; simmer 30 minutes. Add zucchini and cook 10 minutes. Add pasta and cook about 10 minutes, just until pasta is tender. Add additional water if soup is too thick. Remove bay leaf. Taste and add additional salt, if needed. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

To cook in crock pot: Brown ground beef, onions, and garlic as above. Place in crock pot. Add remaining ingredients (except for Parmesan) and cook on low for about 8 hours. Turn to high heat, add pasta, and cook until pasta is tender, about 30 minutes.

To freeze soup: Prepare as above, but do not add pasta. Place in freezer containers and freeze. Cook pasta separately in water. Drain, cool, and freeze pasta separately. Add cooked pasta to soup after thawing and reheating.

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Hearty Beef Chili

092810 018-1This is my standard go-to chili recipe. Thick and hearty. Full of roasted vegetables, ground beef and sausage (chorizo is my favorite), and two kinds of beans in a thick, spicy sauce. No runny broth-that is soup, not chili.

I know that a true Texas chili does not have any beans, but while I love the flavor of a good Texas chili, I also love beans. I love the taste, the contrasting texture they give to chili, and the fact that beans are so good for you! So while my chili may not be approved of by hard core Texans, I will continue to put beans in.

Chili is a great crock pot meal, and tastes even better the second day.

You can make this chili the “fast” way or the “it takes a little longer but is so worth it” way. The difference is: to roast or not roast the veges (onions, peppers, garlic). I have definitely made my share of chili the fast way, but I do prefer the additional flavor you get by roasting the vegetables before adding them to the chili. To roast the onions, garlic and peppers: peel onions and cut in half. Cut larger peppers in half and remove seeds. Smaller peppers, like jalapenos can be left whole. You can roast a whole head of garlic, or roast individual cloves (this will be faster). Place onions, garlic and peppers on a foil-lined roasting pan. Brush with olive oil. Roast at 475°F for about 15-20 minutes, or until veges begin to blacken. See How To Roast Peppers or How To Roast Garlic for quick tutorials.

Top your chili with shredded cheese, sour cream or chopped raw onions (red onions or scallions are great). And make lots: chili freezes wonderfully for another meal another day.

RECIPE:

Hearty Beef Chili

092810 018-1

1 ½ lb ground beef
½ lb chorizo or hot Italian sausage
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 onions
1 red pepper
1 large banana pepper
2 jalapenos, (use seeds for a spicier chili)
2 cloves garlic
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped (or 1 tsp chipotle chili powder)
1 Tbs adobo sauce from chipotle pepper can
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
3 cans (14 oz) diced or crushed tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) tomato sauce
3 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp dried basil (or 2 Tbs fresh)
1 Tbs chili paste
1 Tbs cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Tomato paste, if needed
Toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped raw onions (red onions or green onions)

Cook ground beef and sausage until browned. Drain and place in a crock pot with the cooked bacon. If desired, roast the onions, red pepper, banana pepper, jalapenos and garlic (Brush with olive oil and roast on a foil-lined baking sheet at 475°F for 15-20 minutes). Chop vegetables and add to the crock pot with the remaining ingredients (except tomato paste and toppings). Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours. Taste after about 4-6 hours. Add additional salt or more heat (more chili paste or crushed red peppers), if desired. Thicken with tomato paste if chili is too thin. Serve with desired toppings.

 

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