Hamburger Soup Recipe

Comfort food at its best, a hearty, old-fashioned soup cooked right on the stove with meaty chunks of ground beef and a cornucopia of bright-colored vegetables, all laced with just the right amount of noodles. I've been making this soup for, what, thirty years? It's no wonder, it's that good! So if you've got 20 minutes plus an hour to simmer, prepare for happy eaters around your table!

Hamburger Soup, more comfort food ♥ KitchenParade.com, a hearty meat and vegetable soup, laced with noodles. Weight Watchers Friendly. High Protein. Great for Meal Prep & Feeding a Crowd.

Homemade Soup, Made from Scratch. Belly-Warming During Cold Weather. A Favorite One-Pot, Budget-Friendly Meal. Kid Friendly. Weight Watchers Friendly. High Protein. Great for Meal Prep & Feeding a Crowd. Rave Reviews.

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

Ding-Ding, It's the Dinner Bell


On My MInd ♥ KitchenParade.com, remembering how families in our neighborhood called their kids to dinner.

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?

About This Recipe

Hamburger Soup is homespun family fare, a meaty soup with bites of vegetables and noodles in every spoonful.

The distinctive ingredients are the burger meat (any ground meat, hamburger, ground chicken or turkey, even ground venison or elk) cooked in a big soup pot; chunks of fresh, canned and frozen vegetables (celery, bell pepper, carrot, tomato and corn); just the right amount of pasta; and for seasoning, ketchup (yes!), salt and pepper.

It takes just 20 minutes to get the soup started, then maybe a half hour for the vegetables to simmer on the stove. The noodles go in last, cooking right in the same pot.

The soup is bright and colorful, thanks to all the vegetables. The broth has a bite of pepperiness, thanks to the ketchup. And those noodles, thanks to cooking in the broth? Savory delish!

The recipe makes a lot, a full three quarts, great for feeding a crowd. I hope you love it!

Who Else L-O-V-E-S Soups With Noodles?!

We definitely love soups filled with plump noodles, such comfort food!

But the funny thing is, "less is more" when it comes to pasta in soup. It's all about balance.

I aim for noodles in every spoonful without letting the noodles dominate. Why? Because the vegetables taste so good! Because the meat is so hearty.

So whenever I make a soup with noodles, I use far fewer noodles than you'd think – and I've definitely learned to avoid the temptation to just toss in more-more-more. When I do? Big regret! The soup gets way off balance when there are too many noodles.


Here are some of my favorite soups with just the right amount of pasta, so good!

Besides Noodles, What Ingredients Are in Hamburger Soup? Pantry Ingredients!

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. It's not that an ingredient can't be substituted by something else but when choosing the substitute, it's important to understand why the original ingredient was present in the first place.


  • The "Hamburger" So much flexibility here! Use your favorite ground meat, whether beef or pork or turkey or chicken or venison or Italian sausage ... or ...

  • The Underlying Flavors The vegetables add so much flavor to Hamburger Soup. Some of the vegetables (onion, red pepper and celery) are sautéed with the burger meat, drawing out their natural richness. The other vegetables (tomato, carrot and corn) add flavor, bulk and texture contrast.

  • The Cooking Liquid Beef broth is good especially if it's homemade. But let's get real, it's just easier to use a paste like Better Than Boullion or a container of stock and this is 100% okay. And I'll go one step further. Chicken stock works. (And if you're like me, you always have No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock in the freezer.) But let's take one more step. Forget stock. Water really works! Other alternatives? Once I used a bottle of green chili sauce for part of the liquid.

  • The Seasoning & Spices Just salt and pepper! Do be generous with both, they make all the difference.

  • The "Secret" Ingredient for Flavoring: Ketchup Except! If this soup has a secret ingredient, it's ketchup. Yeah, a big ol' squirt of ketchup. Why ketchup? Well, because it's concentrated flavor. The acid and umami of tomato plus the spikes of seasoning, whatever they are. Alternatives? Once I used some leftover tomato salsa, very good. Or maybe some leftover pasta sauce? That could work!

  • The Pasta Use any shape you like or have on hand. For a perfect pot of soup, I lean toward medium-size pasta like elbow macaroni vs big chunks like rigatoni (meaning fewer pieces of pasta in the pot) or tiny pastas like orzo (which kinda melt into the soup).

  • Extras A can of beans? Great idea. Some oddball bits of cooked vegetables? Add them near the end, giving them just enough time to reheat. An extra can of tomato? Sure, it's not too much.

How to Make Hamburger Soup

The detailed recipe is written in traditional recipe form below but here are the highlights in four easy steps. You can do this!


  • BROWN Use a large heavy pot like a Dutch oven to brown the meat, breaking it into pieces as it cooks. Don't stir too much, you want to let a little "burn" or crustiness emerge on the pieces.

  • SAUTÉ As the meat's cooking, stir in the first batch of vegetables as they're prepped, the onion, pepper and celery. You want these to begin to soften and turn a bit of color but not fully cook.

  • SIMMER Add all the remaining ingredients (except the pasta) and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to maintain a slow simmer. Let the soup just simmer-away until the vegetables are nearly fully cooked, especially the carrots. Test a carrot, when it's almost done, that's good.

  • COOK THE PASTA The pasta cooks right in the soup pot! Just let it simmer for as long as the pasta package specifies. Test for doneness. If you have time, turn off the heat and let the soup rest, covered, for about 15 minutes. The noodles will really plump up!

Here's What's NOT In This Recipe

Sometimes, what's left out of a recipe is just as important as what's put in. That's definitely the case here.


  • No Tomato Sauce or Tomato Paste, it's just too bland and too one-note tomato-y.
  • No Beef Stock, unless you want to use beef stock or another stock, mostly I just use water for the cooking liquid.
  • No Potatoes, the pasta is the "starch" in Hamburger Soup. That said, if you prefer potatoes to pasta, add chunks of potato (no need to peel) along with the carrots so they have plenty of time to cook.

For Best Results

For my weekly column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I interviewed chefs and translated their recipes. The most iluminating question? "How can a home cook ensure the same results?" So now I ask that question of myself, too, for my own recipes. Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!


#1 KETCHUP = INSTANT SEASONING Ketchup is a miracle ingredient, some times, acting as a splash of acidity and concentrated seasoning both at once.


#2 A LITTLE PASTA IS PLENTY, REALLY When you throw the pasta into the pot, you're going to be tempted to add more than the specified amount. I get it, I do. Frankly, it just doesn't "look" like enough. But once the pasta cooks, especially if it can rest for 15-20 minutes before serving, up to two ounces is plenty-plenty-plenty and more than two ounces is way too much. Trust me, I'm tempted too and always regret it when I add more pasta than called for.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

Have another question? Ask away, I'll do my best to answer!


  • What about a vegan "Hamburger" Soup? I think so! It might seem strange to "veganize" a soup that's so meat-centric that "hamburger" is in its very name. But why not convert a meaty soup to a vegan soup with a plant-based meat replacement product like Beyond Meat? These products have come such a long way and using one would make for very planet-friendly 21st century fare, right?! I think this idea is especially interesting for mixed families, some who eat meat and some who don't. Just make two pots side by side, one with meat, one with plant-based "meat". Maybe a little taste comparison is in order?

  • Would frozen vegetables work? I think so! Hamburger Soup is a winter favorite in our household that's why the recipe specifies a mix of fresh, canned and frozen vegetables. For all frozen vegetables, I'd brown the meat on its own (or maybe with onion) and then add canned tomatoes and a pound (450g) of frozen mixed vegetables instead of the carrots and corn.

  • Is this a healthy Hamburger Soup? Yes. A full cup adds up to only 100 calories with a full 10g of protein. Most of the soup is lean meat (especially if you use ground chicken or turkey or venison) and vegetables. There are some noodles but not too many. Store-bought beef broth adds up in sodium but it's easy to cut the salt way down just by switching to water for the cooking liquid. And yet ... big hungry men tuck into Hamburger Soup by the bowlful and small kids eat it up too. Mamas? We couldn't be happier ...

Bookmark! PIN! Share!

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe for Hamburger Soup makes you hungry, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...


Hamburger Soup ♥ KitchenParade.com, a hearty meat and vegetable soup, easy comfort food.



HAMBURGER SOUP RECIPE

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 (or go ahead, just use water)
  • 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
    ADD THIS LAST!
  • 1 cup (about 1.5oz/42g) medium-size dried pasta (or if using a smaller pasta, no more than 2oz/55g)

BROWN In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the meat on medium high on the stove in the splash of water, breaking the meat up a bit as it cooks, letting each piece get a little "burn" on it before turning over.

SAUTÉ 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.

SIMMER Turn the heat down to maintain a slow simmer and let cook until the vegetables are cooked. (If serving later, stop here, let cool and refrigerate. Return to a boil before proceeding. If you'd like to freeze some or all of the soup, stop here and do that.

ADD THE PASTA Add the pasta and cook for 10 - 15 minutes until the pasta is fully cooked. If you have a little extra time, turn off the stove, cover the pot and let it rest for 15 minutes. You don't believe how those noodles will puff up!

Serve and savor!

LEFTOVERS To reheat leftovers, you may need to add more liquid, that's because the pasta sucks up the broth.

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. For the record, I love Trader Joe's frozen roasted corn, it's all I buy anymore. But I also despise Trader Joe's pastas, they are just too soft and mushy, ugh. Instead, I keep de Cecco and Barilla pasta in all shapes and size on hand. Both brands go on sale pretty often, stock up! 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.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cup: 101 Calories; 1g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 556mg Sodium; 14g Carb; 2g Fiber; 6g Sugar; 10g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 3 & SmartPoints 3 & Freestyle 1 & myWW green 2 & blue 1 & purple 0 (blue assumes ground turkey; purple assumes ground turkey and whole-wheat pasta, purple is one point for 2 cups) Weight Watchers, you have to love this hearty soup. 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.

A Menu

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

Still More Noodle Soups

more
~ noodle soups ~
My Chicken Noodle Soup ♥ KitchenParade.com, meaty and noodle-y with a special technique to plump up just a few noodles. Low Carb. High Protein.

Turkey Orzo Soup with Lemon & Spinach ♥ KitchenParade.com, a hearty mix of cooked turkey, pasta and vegetables brightened with lemon, perfect for spring. Weight Watchers Friendly. High Protein.

Weight Watchers Spinach & Tortellini Soup, another healthy soup ♥ A Veggie Venture. WW Friendly. Low Carb. Low Fat. Easily High Protein. Great for Meal Prep.

More Recipe Ideas for Hamburger

more
~ beef recipes (scroll down for burger meat) ~
Hamburger Casserole ♥ KitchenParade.com, one-skillet weeknight comfort food, 'lightened up' and highly adaptable. Not a single can of mushroom soup in sight.
  • THE RECIPE Hamburger Casserole Weeknight comfort food lightened up.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Hamburger Soup A hearty soup with chunks of meat and a cornucopia of bright-colored vegetables.

Cast Iron Meatloaf ♥ KitchenParade.com, my go-to meatloaf recipe, tender, moist and full of flavor thanks to milk-soaked bread crumbs and a pile of chopped vegetables that melt into the meatloaf.
  • THE RECIPE Cast Iron Meatloaf My go-to recipe for meatloaf.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Elk Meatloaf Adapted from the easy Quaker Oats meatloaf with ground beef, elk, bison, venison or even turkey.

Skillet Burgers with Tomato Gravy ♥ KitchenParade.com, bun-free and on the table in an hour with pantry ingredients. LowCarb. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly.

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ beef or elk or turkey ~
~ bell peppers ~
~ tomatoes ~
~ carrots ~
~ corn ~
~ ketchup ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2009, 2014, 2015 (repub), 2016, 2019 & 2021

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.

Comments

  1. I love soup and I love concept recipes.

    Last week I made a very similar soup -- vegetable beef using leftover brisket instead of hamburger.

    ReplyDelete
  2. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  3. kirsten10/10/2009

    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!

    ReplyDelete
  4. 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!!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. 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!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous11/07/2011

    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

    ReplyDelete
  7. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  8. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  9. 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.

    ReplyDelete
  10. 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!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

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