Beefy Basil Pesto Soup

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.

12 thoughts on “Beefy Basil Pesto Soup”

  1. Sounds good though I usually don’t use pesto. Need to buy extra basil plants to make it this year. Might try it in my homemade pasta sauce

    1. I find myself going through lots of pesto since I started throwing it into my soup. The flavor really comes through. I have put my pesto cubes into pasta a couple of times. Although I loved it, it’s really full of carbs, and so I can’t eat much when I would love to eat the whole bowl:).

  2. Oh Becky, thank you soooo much!!! You are too kind! This sounds so good! I would have never though to put pesto in soup! I can’t wait to try this! Yum!

      1. You’re never going to believe this! I had to cook over at my daughter’s house last night and she had an open jar of pesto in the refrigerator from Sam’s Club. It’s a big size compared to most kinds of pesto you can buy in a store. It was delicious!!! I usually just buy the small jars from Aldi and they are just ok tasting, but this one was soooooo good! Now I just need to get myself to Sam’s and then I’m making this soup!!! Thanks again!

  3. Thanks for the recipe! I hadn’t thought of using pesto in soup, and I like that I don’t have to add nuts to get that good flavor. I need to plant more basil.

    1. I like not having to mess with the nuts, either. I’m sure they are good, but it’s just another thing to gather when I’m in the heat of garden preservation, weeding, etc.

  4. Wow! Thank you so much for posting this, Becky! Another of your recipes I will try soon. 🙂

    1. Awesome! It’s SO good, because it has that little “flavor” that takes a while to figure out, even when we’ve had it a million times:)

  5. I make a carrot top pesto – instead of throwing carrot tops away, I do a pesto using mainly carrot tops and only some basil and also parsley if I have it on hand. You can also just do a carrot top pesto and skip the basil, but I love some basil flavor. Also, on the nuts – you can buy ground almonds in the baking aisle and I use those instead of the pine nuts. And, I do the same – freeze in ice cube trays and then bag them once frozen. Good added in soups and spaghetti sauces, spread on pizza, flat breads, calzones…..etc.

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