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Hamburger Soup is simple and inexpensive to make, but it packs a lot of flavor!
Cozy up with a bowl of hearty ground beef soup with pasta that kids and grown-ups both adore! Seeing this on the menu always makes me smile. It’s certainly a family favorite, and there’s just something fun about the idea of eating soups or stews that taste like a hamburger!
It’s a simple recipe that combines a richly-flavored, beef stock with ground beef, vegetables, cheese, and pasta. It’s incredibly delicious and a filling family meal.
Why you’ll love Hamburger Soup!
- This recipe makes enough to feed the entire family, and you might even have leftovers the next day.
- Enjoy the flavors of your favorite hamburger without firing up the grill.
- It’s easy to customize with different types of meat or vegetables.
Chef’s Tip – Make this hamburger soup with brown stock – a super flavorful beef stock made with a variety of beef and veal bones and vegetables.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
Ground beef – Use a lean 80/20 blend of ground beef to avoid a greasy soup. If a blend with higher fat content is all you have on hand, be sure to drain off the excess fat after the meat has browned. You could also substitute ground turkey or pork – or a mix of ground meats – for a different flavor.
Brown stock or Beef Stock – We have a fantastic homemade brown stock recipe here for you to try – and it will give this Hamburger Soup the best flavor. You can swap in using a canned, low sodium beef stock instead – cook down three quarts of the canned beef stock to make two concentrated quarts of stock. Also, remember to taste the soup before adding salt – even lower sodium stocks and broths can still taste salty.
Tomatoes – For an extra depth of flavor, try fire-roasted diced tomatoes. They make any dish taste like it’s been simmering on the stove all day!
Dried herbs – We used thyme to season our soup, but you can change up the flavor of this soup with other herbs and spices. If you’d like to add a bit of heat, add a pinch of chili powder or a dash of hot sauce.
Worcestershire Sauce – This tangy, pungent sauce adds a unique depth of flavor to today’s recipe and really boosts the savory flavors.
Spinach – Choose baby spinach for its tender texture and delicate taste – plus its often sold already cleaned and rinsed so you won’t need to wash or trim it before adding to the soup.
Pasta – We’ve used mini bowtie pasta, but any small pasta will work well with this recipe. Try mini-elbows, orzo, or ditalini instead!
Special supplies needed
- Large soup pot or Dutch oven – The more surface area, the better, so the vegetables and meat get a nice even cook.
- Medium saucepan for cooking the pasta
- Colander for draining the pasta
- Hamburger meat chopper (optional) for easy ground beef browning
How do I make Hamburger Soup?
- Sauté onions and celery until golden brown and soft.
- Brown the ground beef, allowing it to sear and form a nice crust for extra flavor. (Note that it’s okay for there to be a little pink inside the clumps of ground beef. It will finish cooking through in the soup.)
- Add the tomato paste to the ground beef, and cook for about a minute. Then, add the diced tomatos, stock, and seasonings.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about thirty minutes.
- Cook the pasta while the Hamburger Soup is simmering, so they are done around the same time. Follow the package directions and drain, but don’t rinse the noodles.
- Add the spinach and Parmesan to the soup, and cook just until the greens are wilted.
- Serve by adding some of the cooked pasta to each serving bowl, then ladle the soup over the top.
Chef’s Tip – We keep the cooked pasta separate from the cooked soup, and only combine them together when serving. This way, the pasta won’t absorb all of the liquid in the soup.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make Hamburger Soup ahead of time? Sure! Prep the veggies earlier in the day (or the day before) so you can start cooking immediately at dinnertime. You could also cook the pasta in advance and store it in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve. The heat from the hot soup will warm it right up.
How long do leftovers last in the refrigerator? Store for 3-4 days in an airtight container. Store the noodles separately since they will continue to soften and absorb the broth as they sit in the soup.
How do I reheat the leftover soup? You can reheat a single portion in a bowl in the microwave, or heat up a pot of the soup on the stove.
Can I halve the recipe? Absolutely! All of the ingredients can be easily cut in half, with the exception of the canned tomatoes. Use the half can or tomatoes for something else – or just add the full can to the soup – it will just be a little more tomato-y).
What goes with hamburger soup? Since this soup is plenty filling on its own, you probably won’t need more than a salad or dinner rolls on the side.
Can I use frozen vegetables? We really recommend fresh onions and celery, since they create the base of flavor for the dish. Frozen chopped spinach can be used, but you’ll want to thaw and thoroughly drain it before adding to the soup. (Fresh spinach is easier!) If you’d like some extra veggies, frozen corn, peas or green beans could be added.
Can I freeze hamburger soup? Yes, but without the pasta added. Transfer to a freezer-safe container once cooled and leave some room at the top for the soup to expand as it freezes. Freeze for up to 3 months and thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Then, cook the pasta while you reheat the leftovers on the stove.
You may enjoy these other beef soup recipes:
- Hearty Beef Vegetable Soup
- Beef and Barley Soup
- Beef Stew with Dumplings
- Brown Stock (aka Beef Stock)
- Beef Goulash Soup
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, separated
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (80/20)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 quarts brown stock (see here) or strong low sodium beef stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 ounces baby spinach
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Mini Pasta – bow tie, alphabet, star-shaped, etc
- In a 5-quart pot or Dutch oven, sauté onions and celery in half of the olive oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.
- Push vegetables to sides of pot, increase heat to medium high and place the rest of the olive oil in center. Add beef and break up with wooden spoon and sauté until beef is cooked.
- Return to medium heat and add tomato paste. Mix in the paste and cook for one more minute.
- Add diced tomatoes, brown stock, dried thyme and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Skim off any fat and foam that floats to the top.
- Increase heat to medium high and add spinach and parmesan. Cook for five more minutes.
- Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
- Cook pasta according to box directions.
- Place pasta in serving bowl, ladle in soup and top with more Parmesan cheese.
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