This soup has an Italian twist to it, so I wanted to add just a bit of pasta. Here’s my big confession (followed of course by my justification) – I did not use gluten-free pasta! I fully intended to use gluten-free pasta, because I had no desire to intentionally add wheat to our diet. However, as I was browsing the shelves of Whole Foods for a suitable gluten-free rice-pasta to add to the soup, I suddenly found myself looking at boxes of Jovial einkorn pasta. I squealed and literally jumped up and down with excitement, as James backed away, looking askance at me. I have read about Jovial pasta, but have never seen it in person. It was like finding the holy grail!
Einkorn is the purest, most ancient species of wheat known, grown more than 12,000 years ago before wheat was hybridized by man to increase the gluten content and yield. You can read more about einkorn wheat and the history of wheat here. Since this einkorn pasta is much lower in gluten, I was interested in how my body would react to eating it. I am happy to report that there were no adverse affects. However, I do not have celiac disease, and the makers of this pasta warn that more clinical studies are needed to determine if it is safe for celiac patients to consume einkorn wheat. Jovial also produces gluten-free pastas which are reported to be among the best available in taste and texture, and I am also going to try those pastas.
All that said, the addition of pasta (of any kind) to this soup is optional. The beef and vegetables are quite substantial on their own. Also, since this is soup, the actual quantities of the ingredients are not all that important. Feel free to add a little more or less of anything.
- 1 lb ground beef (grass-fed)
- 1 onion, chopped
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 cup green beans, snapped into ~1-inch pieces
- ~28 ounces diced tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup dry pasta (optional)
- kosher or sea salt, freshly ground pepper
- grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
In a large skillet, heat ~ 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the onions until softened, then add the ground beef. Brown the beef, and season lightly with salt and pepper. (If beef is excessively fatty, pour off and discard some of the fat.)
Partially cook the pasta in salted, boiling water. I like to boil it for just a little over half the time recommended on the package. The pasta will finish cooking after you add it to the soup, and will adsorb more of the soup’s flavor.
Heat a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat; add ~ 2 tablespoons olive oil. Saute the zucchini, carrots, and green beans for 6-8 minutes in the oil until they are starting to get tender. Add the tomatoes and chicken broth, with oregano, thyme, crushed pepper flakes, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then add the cooked beef and onions, and the cooked pasta. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf and discard. Serve hot, with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.
Two today from the great Aimee Mann. Years ago I worked for a band that opened for Til Tuesday (“Voices Carry”), and was impressed by Mann’s stage presence and artful lyrics. Since those days she’s gone on to be one of our great songwriters. First up is her debut, Whatever. It featured one of her best songs, “I Should Have Known”, as well as fan favorite “Jacob Marley’s Chain”.
Mann did the soundtrack for “Magnolia”, featuring some of her finest songs, such as “Deathly” and “How Am I Different”. More from that era is collected on her 2000 release, Bachelor No. 2 or, the Last Remains of the Dodo. If you haven’t given her a spin, why not?