Thursday, January 17, 2013

Soup's On!

One of the things that I like to do most when it is super cold out, is put on snuggly warm pajamas, and eat a big ‘ol bowl of warm soup.  And I’ve gotten to do a lot of that lately.  My warm California blood is having a hard time with these freezing temperatures.  Actually, I am just being a wimp.  I have been in Nevada for 3 years now, so I really can’t blame anything on “warm California blood”.  Regardless of why, I still love a good bowl of soup.

My husband, on the other hand…not a fan.  Every time I tell him we are having soup for dinner, he asks “and what else?”  Literally, every single time. Apparently he is a firm believer in soup only as a “starter”. So I decided to create a soup recipe that is a bit more filling then your typical soup.  You know, a real meal-in-a-bowl type soup.  And that will be the first recipe I show you today….my tortellini and beef soup.  It is hearty, filling and crazy delicious.  My second recipe I am going to show you is a favorite of mine since I was little, Creamy Potato Soup.  But mine sneaks in some extra veggies….

My Tortellini and Beef soup has ground beef, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, spices, beef broth, frozen tortellini and a surprising ingredient….spaghetti sauce.  Yep, this soup gets it tomato flavor, and texture, from a jar of spaghetti sauce.  I mean, why not?  Spaghetti sauce has tomatoes, garlic, onion, spices, etc.  What about that wouldn’t be amazing in soup?  Plus, this soup is pretty quick to make.  It is totally do-able on a busy weeknight.

I start by browning the ground beef in a big soup pot.  Once the ground beef is all crumbly and brown, I remove it from the pan, but I leave the some of the fat.  How much fat you have depends on what kind of ground beef you use, but no matter what kind you use, you will have some fat in the pan.  I throw the onion, carrot, celery and garlic into the beef fat and let the veggies get all soft and sweaty.  But not brown!  This takes about eight minutes.  Oh yeah, I also season with salt and pepper.

Once the veggies are softened, I pour in my beef broth and a whole jar of marinara (spaghetti) sauce.  I usually use a plain marinara sauce, but you can go crazy here.  I also add in a couple of bay leaves.  Once this comes to a boil, I add my bag of frozen tortellini and let ‘em go until they are cooked.  This goes pretty quickly. 

I use cheese tortellini, but you can use whatever you want.  I’m not the boss of you.

Once the tortellini has cooked, all that needs to be added is the cooked ground beef.  Once that is all heated through, it is ready to eat!  I top mine with parmesan cheese and shredded basil because I am super fancy.  Or because I happened to have some in the fridge.


This soup is meaty, cheesy, rich and delicious, but most importantly, my kids love it.  And my husband doesn’t go hungry after eating this.  I am pretty sure your family will love it too.

My next soup, like I said above, is one of my all-time favorites.  It’s Potato Soup.  I love potatoes, I love soup, and I love anything creamy.  This fits the bill on all accounts.  Plus, I use an amazing shortcut that makes this soup also a really do-able weeknighter.

I start with the exact same ingredients that I use in the Tortellini and Beef soup….onion, carrots, celery, garlic and bay leaves.  But before that can happen, I have to start with an ingredient that really everything should have in it….bacon.  I sauté about four or five slices of thick cut bacon.  Once that is cooked, I remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon, and leave about one tablespoon of fat in the pan.  This will give the soup a really good smoky flavor.

The veggies get sautéed in the bacon fat, just until they are soft and translucent, about eight minutes.  I season the soup during this, but be careful….the bacon has already left a good bit of salty flavor.

Once the veggies are softened, I add chicken stock.  Then, my secret ingredient.  Instead of peeling and chopping potatoes, I use a bag of Ore-Ida Steam and Mash potatoes.  I cook them in the microwave, according to the package directions, and add them to the simmering soup.  I feel like these potatoes are my best secret weapon.  Essentially, they are potatoes that have been peeled and par-boiled, then frozen.  You could really use them in anything, and they are a perfect time saver. My hat’s off to you, Ore-Ida.

After I add the potatoes, I let the soup simmer a few more minutes, and then I blend it with my immersion blender.  You can also use a food processor or a blender.  I blend this soup until it is pretty smooth.  Once it is blended, I add some heavy cream and let that heat through.  Finally, the soup is ready to be served with cheese, green onions and the reserved bacon for topping.  Yum!  Doesn’t it sound amazing?  And it is so easy!

You don’t have to use cream if you are anti-cream.  You can use half and half, fat free half and half, cream cheese, or even Greek Yogurt.  But the extra creaminess really sends this soup over the top.


I hope you try on or both of these soups….They will keep you warm!

Tortellini and Beef Soup

1 pound ground beef

1 small onion, diced

½ cup celery, diced

½ cup carrots, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

1 jar marinara sauce (24 ounces)

4 cups beef broth

1 bag frozen cheese tortellini (19  ounces)

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper


Parmesan cheese

Fresh basil, shredded

In a large soup pot, cook ground beef until crumbly and brown, about 5-8 minutes over medium heat.  Remove ground beef from pot, leaving about 1 tablespoon of fat in the pot.  Set beef aside.

Add diced onion, celery, carrots and garlic to pot.  Sauté until veggies are soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper and bay leaf.  Add marinara sauce and beef broth.  Bring soup to a boil.  Once soup is boiling, add tortellini and boil an additional 6 minutes, or until tortellini is cooked.  Add ground beef back into the pot and heat through.  Remove bay leaves.

Serve topped with parmesan cheese and basil.

Serves 8


Short-cut Potato Soup

5 strips thick cut bacon

1 small onion, diced

½ cup celery, diced

½ cup carrots, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

4 cups chicken broth

1 package Ore-Ida Steam and Mash Potatoes (1 lb. 8 oz.)

½ cup heavy cream


Shredded cheddar cheese

Green onions

Sour cream (optional)

In a large soup pot, cook bacon over medium heat until browned, about 8 minutes.  Remove bacon from pot leaving about 1 tablespoon fat in the pot.  Set bacon aside.

Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic and bay leaves to the bacon fat in the pot.  Sauté over medium heat until veggies are soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add broth and bring to a boil.  Let soup simmer while potatoes cook (see below).

Cook potatoes in microwave according to package directions.  Add cooked potatoes to boiling broth.  Cook about 5 minutes, over medium heat. Puree soup with immersion blender until desired consistency is reached.  Add heavy cream and heat through.

Serve topped with reserved crumbled bacon, shredded cheese and green onions.

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