Hamburger Soup Recipe

The Recipe: Comfort food at its best, a hearty soup with chunks of meat and a cornucopia of bright-colored vegetables. I've been making this soup for, what, thirty years? Yikes!

The Conversation: The neighborhood of my childhood, where every family called the kids to dinner with a different sound. How does your family call everyone to the table?

Hamburger Soup, comfort food at its best ♥, hearty soup with chunks of meat and bright-colored vegetables. Just 105 calories and for Weight Watchers, SmartPoints 3.

"... it was sooooo good!" ~ Dana
"... this is very good and my kids also liked it." ~ Crystal

The playground of my childhood was fifteen acres of woods and riverbank, rounded out with a treehouse, a cattle culvert and a cave; three gullies, boat docks and vegetable gardens; a makeshift baseball diamond, a chicken-coop-turned-clubhouse and a raspberry patch.

But we just called it "the neighborhood", home to six families in seven houses, three owned by brothers. The year I started kindergarten, my mom used to recount, 21 kids got on the schoolbus. Within the neighborhood, we kids knew no boundaries. On the other side of the river was Ontario. Immigration? We'd swim over, boat over, skate over, depending on the season. My mom was big on yard games: in summer, we played endless rounds of croquet in the front yard then switched to badminton matches in the back. One winter, the river froze rough so my dad flooded the front yard for an ice rink.

Come suppertime, we kids could be anywhere. To call us home for dinner, each family had a distinctive sound. The Andersons had the jingle of a bell, one of the Holte families the gong of a triangle. My dad pursed his lips around a conch shell horn, summoning my sister and me with a deep-bass bellow.

These days, my sister calls her boys to supper with the "tink" of a text message. It's modern, not quite so nostalgic, but it works. And you, how are you calling your family to dinner these days?

ALANNA's TIPS Hamburger Soup is a classic "concept" recipe. Add whatever vegetables you have on hand, frozen vegetables work great. Throw in bits and pieces from the refrigerator, a splash of leftover wine, a spoonful of pumpkin, fresh greens, a can of beans. There's even a "lasagna in a bowl" version, try my recipe for Lasagna Soup with Fresh Spinach published at A Veggie Venture, my food blog about vegetables. It's easy to overdo the pasta, one cup doesn't look like a lot. But it really swells up so go easy unless you prefer a Hamburger-Pasta Soup. Substitute rice or a grain for the pasta too.


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time-to-table: 75 minutes
Makes 12 cups
  • Splash of water
  • 1 pound ground beef, turkey, elk or other meat
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 15 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn (no need to thaw)
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (may need less or more depending on saltiness of the broth)
  • Generous grind of black pepper
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • "Other" - see TIPS
  • 1 cup dried pasta

In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the meat in the splash of water, breaking the meat up as it cooks, letting each piece get a little "burn" on it before turning over. Add the onion, pepper and celery as they're prepped and cook until the vegetables are beginning to soften. Add all the remaining ingredients except the pasta, cover and bring to a boil.

Turn the heat down to maintain a slow simmer and let cook until the vegetables are cooked. (If serving later, stop here, let cool, refrigerate. Return to a boil before proceeding.)

Add the pasta and cook for 10 - 15 minutes until pasta is fully cooked. Serve and savor!

To reheat leftovers, you may need to add more liquid as the pasta sucks up the broth.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cup: 105 Calories; 1g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 487mg Sodium; 15g Carb; 3g Fiber; 6g Sugar; 11g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1.5 & WW PointsPlus 3 & Smart Points 3 Weight Watchers, you have to love this hearty soup recipe. It just proves how a little meat can be so satisfying, especially when paired with the volume of healthful vegetables and just a touch of carbs. It's a great example of how eating well can leave us satisfied and healthy both.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. In 2009, Kitchen Parade celebrates its 50th anniversary with a
special collection of my mother's recipes. Is there a favorite hearty soup that calls to you when the weather turns cool, a recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via If you like this soup recipe from Kitchen Parade, consider a free e-mail subscription. Once or twice a week when a new recipe is published, you'll be notified via e-mail. How to print a recipe on Kitchen Parade. If you like Kitchen Parade, forward this recipe to a friend who might too!

A Menu

Hamburger Soup (recipe above)
Cheddar-Olive Spread
No-Knead English Muffin Bread

More Hamburger Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Hamburger Casserole Calico Beans Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce
~ more beef recipes ~

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I love soup and I love concept recipes.

Last week I made a very similar soup -- vegetable beef using leftover brisket instead of hamburger.
I recall a similar freedom to move about our neighborhood, including woods and streams, and playing games with large groups neighborhood kids. Do you think there are any places where kids enjoy that same sense of freedom, wonder and creative play today? I hope so.
I call my kids in to dinner with the same Olson family noise from my childhood-kind of a trill. And yes, even in the relatively urban setting of 12 miles away from the White House my kids manage to catch tadpoles, climb trees, get out in the woods/grassy areas each day.

Thanks for the recipe-we'll try it this fall!
What a refreshing story! Thank you so much. This reminds me of my childhood--I lived on a ranch, so didn't have neighboring kids around but my siblings and I got good and dirty every day. I think my favorite memory is batting rocks out in the road in front of our house. We would also play baseball out there. My mom would just yell out the door for us to come in for dinner--hopefully we would be within range to hear it. The soup recipe would be a nice meal to come into after a hard day of playing outside!!!
I made this soup tonight and it was sooooo good! I added some red pepper flakes, garlic, and broccoli. I paired it with some ciabatta rolls and it was a hit! Thanks so much for the recipe!
I stumbled upon your site a couple weeks ago and have now made two recipes for your site. This Hamburger soup being one of them. I just wanted to let everyone know this is very good and my kids also liked it. A lot of times you will try a new recipe and it just not that good or worth making again. I am somewhat leary of trying new recipes.....but this I will definately make again. I followed your directions on making an oven roasted chicken with Kosher salt and it turned out amazing also. Thank you so much for sharing.....I will have to venture into more of your recipes :)
Crystal from Indiana 11/7/2011
Well hey Chrystal, thank YOU for taking the time to write these kind words. I'm glad both the Hamburger Soup and the Fast Roast Chicken were hits for you. They're favorites of mine, in fact, I roasted two chickens for a big impromptu dinner on Thursday night! And I hear you about trying new recipes, I think when you find a source of recipes that's a personal collection, mine say, that when your tastes are similar, you'll find lots of recipes that just work. It's one of the reasons why I love the recipes from food bloggers, because each blogger has a certain style that comes through. In magazines, big recipes sites, etc, it's harder to fish out the recipes that match your own style.

Anyway thanks again, come back often. Better yet, sign up for a free email subscription, then you'll see every new recipe plus reminders about older ones.
Going to use a tube of ground sausage I bought for a buck at the Dollar Tree to make this soup. Thanks, I had no idea what to do with it.
Just wondering if it might be a good idea to par cook the pasta, then add to soup.
Years ago I was making homemade chicken noodle soup and cooked the pasta right in wth the soup. Then I realized why there wasn't much broth. So I then started to cook the pasta in a separate pot.
Looking forward to making this. Thank you for sharing.
Annie ~ Great idea, the sausage! So glad to offer up a little inspiration!

Sunny ~ You are so right that pasta “sucks up” the broth in soups. In fact, just looking at my picture, I can see that the pot came right of the stove! A day later, the broth would be all inside the pasta! Yours is a good solution, parcooking the pasta. Another one, the one that restaurants use, is to cook the pasta entirely separately then add just enough pasta to a bowl right before serving. Still another one is on the second day, just add more stock or even, depending on the soup, water, to re-hydrate the soup. I hope you love the soup, we do!

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna