Feel free to experiment with this recipe. It has a hundred different variations. Check the "tips" section at the bottom for some ideas on how to make this your own favourite comfort food.
2 Tbsp oil
1 lb (450 g) lean ground beef (or use a combination of ground beef and ground pork)
1 medium onion chopped, about 1 cup
2 stalks celery –finely chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic – or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder (not salt)
1 bay leaf
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 can (796 ml—28 oz) diced tomatoes — can also use fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1 cup of tomato sauce or puree
1/4 cup dried green lentils (can also use red)
3-1/2 cup beef stock (cube/stock pot/ boxed is fine)
1 tsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning, or basil. Alternatively, you can use fresh
Salt to taste
Other additions you might enjoy:
Pasta (cook separately, put in bowl and top with hot soup)
Rice or barley
Diced green, red, yellow or orange sweet peppers.
Shredded zucchini -- add at the end
Parmesan cheese rind (for flavour — remove before serving)
Dried shitake mushrooms (for flavour — remove before serving)
1. In a heavy bottomed pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Break up ground beef and scramble fry until it is brown. Drain any excess fat and liquids.
2. Add celery, onion, carrots and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic.
3. Add lentils, bay leaf, pinch of red pepper flakes, tomato sauce (or puree), canned tomatoes including liquid and beef broth. If using dried herbs and spices, add them now.
4. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cover. Cook on a low heat until everything is tender. Depending on the ingredients and their size, this could be 20 minutes to 45 minutes.
5. If using fresh herbs, add them now. Stir and taste. Adjust seasonings as necessary.
6. Serve with garlic bread, warmed rolls or topped with Parmesan cheese.
- Cook a small pasta like macaroni, stars, alphabets, orzo in a separate pot and add hot soup on top. This keeps the pasta from getting mushy if there's leftovers
- Finely slice fresh spinach leaves and put into the bowl. Top with hot soup. The heat will wilt the spinach without it getting slimy. Also means that the soup will keep better in the fridge