Quick Italian Beef & Vegetable Soup

This recipe is one my mom found in Southern Living from back in the day... well not too far back in the day. I remember when she first tried it (middle school, maybe?) and didn't think much of it back then but as I have grown and matured so has my taste palette! For the past two years I have served this soup at my pumpkin carving party! This year was no different. Even though we were painting pumpkins instead of carving them, I still planned the same menu. I like a little consistency. Each year I triple the recipe. I have about 10-12 friends over and the recipe serves 3-4. There's always a little extra but this soup freezes well. I also serve grilled cheese sandwiches with the soup!

Quick Italian Beef & Vegetable Soup
Serves 3-4

1 medium zucchini
1 - 14 oz can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 lb lean ground beef
1 c. sliced carrots
1 - 15 oz can Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 - 14 oz can ready-to-serve beef broth
2 c. loosely packed torn fresh spinach

Part One: Cut zucchini in half lengthwise; cut each half crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Set aside. Brown ground beef and garlic; drain. Stir in pepper, salt, broth, Italian-style stewed tomatoes, and sliced carrots; bring to a boil. 
Part One before boiling.
Part Two: Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir zucchini slices and beans into mixture; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes or until zucchini is crisp-tender. Remove from heat; stir in torn spinach.

For some reason Mom never put the spinach in so I don't either.

Part Two after the zucchini has just been added. Isn't it colorful -- a perfect fall soup!

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