The Most Comforting Hamburger Soup

published Aug 25, 2022
Hamburger Soup Recipe

Hamburger, but make it a simple, warming, budget-friendly soup that feeds a crowd.

Serves8

Prep15 minutes

Cook45 minutes to 50 minutes

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A photo of a thick, tomato based soup with carrots, peas, green beans and hamburger chunks, as seen from the top down.
Credit: Meleyna Nomura

I grew up eating hamburger soup frequently. Despite the name, there aren’t any pickles or mustard involved in hamburger soup. It simply refers to using ground meat instead of stew meat. My mom’s version was simply a pound of ground meat (she generally used ground turkey), a few cans of vegetables, and a handful of dried pasta all simmered together in a little extra stock. When I moved out of the house, it was a cheap and healthful way to feed myself during those very broke early adult years.

When I make hamburger soup these days, I skip the cans and opt for frozen vegetables instead. They are just as convenient, with better texture and control over the sodium levels. This soup is so cozy, warming you through in the way that only nostalgia and a bowl of good soup can.

What Goes in Hamburger Soup?

Hamburger soup is very flexible. Other than the ground beef, an assortment of vegetables works well. This version goes heavy on the veggies and uses the following:

  • Carrots
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Frozen corn
  • Frozen green beans
  • Frozen baby lima beans
  • Frozen peas
  • Ditalini pasta (can swap in a potato or two if preferred)

Opting for fresh carrots allows you to cut bigger, more satisfying chunks. But if you want to save the extra step of chopping, you can use a bag of frozen mixed vegetables in place of the carrots, corn, and green beans. The carrots will just be in much smaller pieces.

How Can I Spice Up Hamburger Soup?

Hamburger soup is a simple dish, but that doesn’t mean you can’t build great flavor. Taking care to brown the beef before anything else helps to really develop the flavor. Using both tomato paste and canned tomatoes gives the soup richness and body. Low-sodium broth allows you to taste the flavors without being too salty. Worcestershire sauce and a spoonful of red wine vinegar provide both depth and brightness of flavor.

Can I Freeze Hamburger Soup?

Hamburger soup freezes really well. Freeze half a batch for dinner down the road, or in single-size portions for a quick lunch. You may need to thin it a bit if the pasta has soaked up all of the broth.

Hamburger Soup Recipe

Hamburger, but make it a simple, warming, budget-friendly soup that feeds a crowd.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 45 minutes to 50 minutes

Serves 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    lean ground beef

  • 1

    large yellow onion

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 3 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 2

    medium carrots

  • 2 tablespoons

    tomato paste

  • 1 (32-ounce) carton

    low-sodium beef broth (about 4 cups)

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can

    diced tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup

    dried ditalini pasta

  • 1 tablespoon

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 1

    dried bay leaf

  • 1 cup

    frozen cut green beans

  • 3/4 cup

    frozen baby lima beans

  • 3/4 cup

    frozen corn kernels

  • 3/4 cup

    frozen peas

  • 1 teaspoon

    red wine vinegar

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Break up 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef into large chunks and add to the pot in an even layer. Cook undisturbed until well-browned on the bottom, 6 to 8 minutes. Meanwhile, dice 1 large yellow onion and mince 2 garlic cloves.

  2. Season the beef with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Stir with a wooden spoon and break the beef up into smaller pieces. Continuing cooking until no pink remains, 2 to 4 minutes more. Add the onion, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the onion is translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and cut 2 medium carrots crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds.

  3. Add the carrots and 2 tablespoons tomato paste to the pot and cook, stirring often, until the moisture evaporates, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes and their juices, and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Fill the tomato can with water and pour into the pot.

  4. Add 1 (32-ounce) carton low-sodium beef broth, 1/2 cup dried ditalini pasta, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 dried bay leaf, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots and pasta are almost tender, about 15 minutes.

  5. Add 1 cup frozen green beans, 3/4 cup frozen baby lima beans, 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels, and 3/4 cup frozen peas. Increase the heat to medium and return to a simmer. Cook until the frozen vegetables are heated through, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, add 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, and stir to combine.

Recipe Notes

Vegetable substitute: 3 cups frozen mixed vegetables can be used in place of the carrots, green beans, lima beans, corn, and peas. Skip adding the carrots with the tomato paste and add the frozen mixed vegetables when you’d add the other frozen vegetables.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.