I’ve been asked to post the recipe for this beefy-basil pesto soup that we love so much. It really isn’t a strict recipe, and you can easily change it up to suit your taste, but here is what I do:
I start with some beef. Sometimes it’s beef chunks, such as stew meat or cut up roast. I often use hamburger. I use around a pound, usually, but that can vary if I have less thawed or am using the leftovers from a roast.
I brown that if it is not cooked already (leftovers) with a large onion.
Then, I add whatever veggies I have on hand, sometimes including, but not limited to the following:
Large chunks of peeled carrots or a pint of canned carrots, large chunks of potatoes (fresh or canned), celery (fresh or frozen), green beans (fresh, canned or frozen), zucchini (fresh or dried), and peas (fresh or frozen), added right at the very end so they don’t get overcooked. For our family, I usually add 3-5 of things like carrots, stalks of celery, and potatoes, 1 large or 2 small onions, around a pint of green beans, and a small amount of zucchini or peas, if using.
For the liquid:
I add a quart of beef broth, a quart of canned tomatoes and a quart or more of water, depending on how much soup I want. If I don’t have beef broth, I can just use water or add boullion to some water. I don’t like it super acidic from too many tomatoes, so I find 1 jar is enough for our taste, but you could do as many as you like in your soup.
I usually put in a healthy amount of Italian seasoning (probably at least a tablespoon), but sometimes add garlic powder, basil, parsley or other dried herbs I find in the cupboard. I find the Italian-type herbs go well with the pesto. I add salt and pepper to taste–AFTER I add the pesto, as mine is salted and peppered when I make it. I usually add 3-4 ice cube tray-sized pesto cubes. I put in 2, taste it and add more if needed.
I bring the liquid, seasonings, browned or cooked meat and veggies to a boil, then simmer for up to 2 hours, depending on how tough the meat is or when I need to serve it. It really only takes about 1/2 hour to softened the veggies, so I have served it sooner when desperate, but the flavors do not meld together very well in such a short time.
Pesto is what makes this soup so amazing. I make my pesto in the summer with basil we grow. It doesn’t have any nuts in it. It has basil leaves from the garden, olive oil, parmesan, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice in it. I whirl it around in the food processor until mixed and freeze it in ice cube trays. I then pop the cubes out into freezer bags and use them all year.
I made a lot last year. I can already tell it wasn’t enough, so I’ll make even more this summer. It takes a lot of basil leaves for a batch. I find that if I go out and harvest once there are a good amount of leaves on the bushes, they will grow back so I can do several batches over time from one set of basil plants. I’m just careful when I harvest to cut above the place where new little leaves are trying to bud out–it’s like giving the plant a good pruning and it just grows more basil over time.
I’m sure any purchased pesto would work just fine. You would have to add some, taste, then add some more to make sure the flavor is to your liking. This would be a great way to use up that partial jar of pesto you have lurking in your fridge!
Please feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments below, but be creative and feel free to customize it to your family’s taste.