Tasty Soup For The Tran Soul
Fall is officially here folks. What heralds it in for me isn’t so much the start of the school year, the appearance of pumpkins and mums, or even the leaves starting their metamorphosis into a beautiful array of red and gold hues. No. What signifies that fall is officially here is the dreadful chill-you-to-the-bone rain that seems to invariably accompany every start of the fall season. It’s dreary, it’s gloomy, and did I mention that it was bone chilling?
I decided to indulge myself and signed up for cake decorating classes on Mondays at the local craft store. It’s been a lot of fun so far and I just started the second class module this past Monday…slogging my gum paste, fondant, pastry bags and tips to class in the cold dreary rain. Needless to say, when I finally got home, dinner had to be nothing short of steaming with a temperature close to that of the sun to chase away my rather damp and soggy mood. I had already super ramened the night before so I had to come up with something else…and then I remembered….
When I was very young, my mother used to make this soup for us on the weekends. I distinctly remembering waiting impatiently for when she’d tell us the pot was ready, and my sister and I eagerly ladling the soupy awesomeness into our bowls before hunkering down to watch some Hong Kong wirefu series (I could probably post about this topic for days, but for those of you in the know, TVB rocks and you know it to be true). I remember those times with great fondness and while my mother and sister were not here right now, I saw no reason to not indulge in some soup for my soul.
This was actually the very first soup that I ever attempted to make on my own when I finally moved out of my parents house. I’m happy to say that several years later, my version isn’t half bad. I warn you though, it’s still one of those recipes that’s been handed down by word of mouth and, unfortunately, falls victim to the one rule that surrounds most verbal family recipes…spice measurements are a bit lacking. I can still hear it in my head, my mother’s litany for seasoning any dish. In vietnamese, “salt, black pepper, and sugar seasoned to taste!” I’m not sure how, but it works. I find myself conservatively pouring in some salt and then tasting and seasoning from there, although I also prefer to add some garlic powder to my own litany to give it some depth of flavor.
It’s fairly easy to prep and cook and the ingredients are very simple. I’m not sure where or how my mother came up with this recipe, but wherever it came from, it’s amazing. A simple yet flavorful broth is rendered from browned ground beef with some aromatics. Pasta is then added and cooked directly in that broth and then garnished with fresh scallions and lots of freshly ground black pepper. That’s all there is to a soup that I hold very near and dear to my heart! Perfect for a cold fall or wintry night, this is one of those meals that (literally) warms the cockles of your heart. Now if I can only get my daughter to eat it…
Beef and Shells Pasta Soup
A Tastydesu clan family tradition
1lb ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced fine
3-4 scallions, sliced thinly
4 cups beef broth or beef boullion
4 cups of water
1 box of small shells pasta
3 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt, to taste
Sugar, to taste
Lots of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
In a large pot, heat olive oil over high heat and then saute onions and garlic until fragrant and slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Add in beef and garlic powder and saute until beef is thoroughly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Add in broth and water, remembering to scrape up any browned bits of goodness from the bottom of the pan.
Bring to boil (to save time, while I am prepping the onions/garlic/scallions, I will bring a separate pot with the broth and water to boil and then add it to my browned beef pan) and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. During this time, add in salt, sugar, and some black pepper and season the broth to taste. I usually aim to season the broth a shade on the saltier side to counterbalance the pasta that will be added later.
Add in your box of pasta and cook according to package directions to desired doneness. Remove from heat. Garnish with sliced scallions and additional black pepper. Serve and enjoy!