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Pasta Soup with Beef, Tomatoes and Vegetables

Serves 4 to 6

It was so much fun cooking with my mother, especially in her later years when she lived with me. She, like I, loved looking through cookbooks and magazines for new recipes. The difference was that I usually have difficulty deciding which one to try next, while she was able to focus on a particular recipe. She always had me read it so we could collaborate on the changes we wanted to make. This quick, easy and delicious Italian-inspired soup is just one example of her many great discoveries.


Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then the ground beef. Sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes, breaking the beef into small pieces while cooking. Add the peppers and onions; season lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes, scraping up the browned bits in the bottom of the pan as they cook. Add the garlic and tomato paste and sauté another minute. Add the tomatoes, water, thyme, basil, oregano, parsley. Season again with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Bring back to a boil; add the pasta. Reduce again, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, about 8 minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve, passing the cheese separately.