Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Soup Season

With fall and winter on the way, there’s one thing more than any other that I look forward to: soups and stews.

They’re easy to make, hearty and filling, and are among my favorite comfort foods. In school, a lunch of vegetable soup and cheese toast filled me with delight. I loved my grandmother’s milk-based chicken stew, with butter and large elbow macaroni noodles and pieces of tender chicken. My mom often made goulash, with hamburger and noodles.

There’s nothing I like more on a cold Sunday afternoon than a slow-cooked beef stew, with chunks of potatoes, carrots and onions. But when time is short and I have a hankering for a bowl of hot, comforting soup, I use this recipe that I created one blustery, snowy February day. The best part of making soup, though, is the ability to customize and add your own twist.

Jason’s Quick and Easy Vegetable Beef Soup

1 46-oz. can tomato juice, plus 1 can water
1 16-oz. can red kidney beans, drained
1 16-oz. bag frozen soup vegetables
1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
8 oz. package frozen chopped spinach
4 oz. spiral or elbow macaroni
Thyme, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

In a large stockpot, heat the tomato juice and water. Add the kidney beans, vegetables and ground beef and bring to a simmer. Add the chopped spinach, macaroni and seasonings, and simmer until macaroni is cooked. Ladle into a bowl and enjoy!

Try using fresh vegetables instead of frozen, or a different type of pasta, or stew beef instead of ground (or no beef at all). With soup, the possibilities are almost endless!

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