Over Christmas break, while my Dad was undergoing treatments for his cancer in Omaha, Nebraska, my family and I went to visit. I learned a few things while up there… Like heavy jackets are not a suggestion, but rather a necessity, sometimes the sun just doesn’t feel warm, and that there’s nothing quite like some soup to warm the soul. Which is where this beef and veggie soup recipe comes in! It had been a VERY cold past couple of days, with the high barely getting over 0 degrees (which is basically unheard of for this Texan), and I was craving lots of veggies. So I grabbed my mom’s Suburban keys and headed to the store to get some ingredients for a quick homemade soup. I knew I’d want lots of veggies that wouldn’t take too long to cook, and tomato based soups are my fave. From start to finish it took me about an hour to make, and the end result was phenomenal!
Thinking back to that night brings so many emotions. I was excited to share a recipe I had made on the fly with my family. I loved getting to cook for my Dad again. And it was the last homemade meal I ever made him before he passed. When I made the soup, I didn’t realize how much it would mean to me, but now I’ll always remember it as the soup I fed my Dad (he was too weak to eat it himself), and the first food he enjoyed eating in over a week. I sat beside him, helped him eat, and held his hand after. This soup is more than just soup. It’s a memory I’ll hold dear forever, and a recipe I know I’ll continue to make for years to come because it reminds me of my Dad.
Growing up I loved watching my dad cook in the kitchen. He never followed a recipe, and his food was either amazing, or… in need of improvement. He didn’t cook often, but when he did I loved helping him out. He made some amazing smoked meat, and I always loved how he could take ingredients in the fridge and make something special with it. I got that creativity from him and loved telling him about the recipes I came up with in the kitchen, and hearing his feedback on the food I made. He was always so supportive of my many interests, and I cannot thank him enough for teaching me to take criticism, always look for improvements, and to never give up. Those traits have not only helped me when I’m cooking, but also when it comes to life. He was so wise, and seriously the best Dad ever. I know I wouldn’t be where I am and the person I am today if it weren’t for his guidance, encouragement and patience.
So it was only fitting that the meal I made in Omaha I got to share with my Dad and family. And today, I’m sharing it with you! Because not only is it special to me, but also PERFECT for those cold winter nights when all you want to do is snuggle up in a blanket next to a cozy fire. And if people end up going back for thirds (like my uncle did!), don’t blame me. ;)
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 container mushrooms, sliced
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 1/2 cups dried pasta OR 3/4 cups quick cook rice (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot and cook the onions until semi-translucent. Add the carrots and cook until slightly softened, then add the zucchini and mushrooms. Cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add the ground beef to the pot, and cook until mostly brown.
- Pour in the crushed tomatoes and beef broth. Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the grape tomatoes and pasta/rice (optional) and cook until done.
- Serve with some garlic break and salad for a DELICIOUS meal!
Now it’s your turn to talk! Answer one of these questions in the comments below:
Do you have a recipe like this that is special to you?
What is your favorite thing to eat when it’s frigid outside?