Saturday, February 28, 2009

Layered Vegetable Soup

I love soups! I love that they are tasty and the fact that they are a meal! I made one of my favorites tonight. It is a vegetable beef soup, like they have at Make-A-Meal. If you don't have one in your area, you are really missing out. On those nights when you need a good meal fast, you can drop by and pick up a delicious and healthy entree for the house. I had gall bladder surgery earlier in the year, and my friends at school brought over dinner for about two weeks. It was really, really helpful! One of the meals was a vegetable sop recipe that I really enjoyed, but thought, I could really make this myself. I think I have finally perfected it, so I am going to share now. This recipe will make three family-sized servings. One to eat now, and the contents to make two more to be frozen. It may seem like a lot of ingredients up front, but since it makes three meals you save in the long run.

3 gallon size freezer bags
2 lbs of ground beef
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons of diced garlic
2 cans of diced tomatoes
2 cans of tomato paste
3 cups of elbow macaroni
6 cups of frozen vegetables (1 family size bag)
3 tablespoons of beef boullion (powder form)
1. Brown ground beef, onion, garlic, and a bit of salt in a large pan. (drain off fat)
2. Take the mixture off the heat and add in two cans of diced tomatoes, and 2 cans of tomato paste (it will look a lot like a very thick spaghetti sauce)
3. Now, here comes the layering part of the recipe- very easy- don't make it harder than it is. :)
  • Open three gallon ziplock bags
  • Spoon in 1/3 of beef mixture into each bag (around two cups each)
  • Allow the beef mixture to become the base (it can allow the bag to "sit")
  • Add in one cup of elbow macaroni on top of the beef mixture in each bag (do not mix the layers)
  • Add in two cups of mixed vegetables on top of pasta
  • Add 1 tablespoon of beef boullion into each bag to top it off (powder form)
  • Seal bags and freeze up to three months

To cook: Allow the bag to thaw in the fridge for at least 24 hours before cooking. Empty the contents of the bag into a soup pot. Add 6 to 8 cups of water (depending on how thick you want your soup- I typically do about 7) to the mixture. Stir mix and bring to a boil. Allow to boil, while stirring, for about five minutes. (Pasta will stick if you don't stir in the beginning) Then simmer for about an hour. Serve with bread!

Now the key to the homemade goodness is the simmering for an hour- if you don't do that the vegetables will taste frozen. By allowing them to simmer you allow the flavors to really become one.

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