Hamburger and Rice Soup is weeknight food that tastes like weekend food: warming, complex and delicious with a depth of flavor that comes from using homemade beef stock.
People I do not even know where to begin. I mean first there was the low iodine diet, in preparation for the radioactive iodine pill to kill the remaining cancerous thyroid cells. Then there was the actual radioactive iodine pill with the consequent 5 days of isolation. And because when it rains it pours, within a day or two of ending the isolation I caught the respiratory virus that had been going through my family like crazy. All of that would not have been too melodramatic, but then that wind storm came through and we lost power for a little over three days. Now remember we are on a well, so this meant no heat or water for a little over three days. In the winter. By the time we got heat (power) back, the house was 42 degrees Fahrenheit, most of the fish were dead (we sent the snake to the snake store for a staycation), I had become adept at starting fires, and I could probably become a reviewer for dry shampoos. Now that we are past it, I feel a little sheepish over freaking out over just a lousy three days, but at the time things were getting dire.
Forget about the snake, I need a staycation. And between the cold and the virus, I would love it very much if it came complete with soup. Honestly it feels like all I can think about lately is soup. I made this Hamburger and Rice Soup a while back, but it would be perfect right now.
Here is the secret to Hamburger and Rice Soup: homemade beef stock. If you do not have homemade beef stock (made with bones over a day or two), this soup will still be good, although I recommend making it with low sodium chicken stock. But if you do keep homemade beef stock around (I reduce mine to save space and then freeze it), this soup is freaking fantastic. I don’t know why commercial chicken stock is decent but commercial beef stock is so blah, but it just is. And it had been a long time since I had made homemade beef stock, so this soup was a real revelation (I should have expected it because I grew up with soups only made from homemade stock, and of them all my mom’s Beef Vegetable Soup was the one I craved the most often).
Don’t know how to make beef stock? I went hunting and while that link is not the exact recipe I use, it is good enough to get you started. As far as I am concerned the key points are to use bones and to give the stock a long time to barely simmer. You need time to suck all of the goodness out of the bones.
When I started this Hamburger and Rice Soup I had the vague notion of a Taco Soup in the back of my head, but then I wanted to use red wine to complement the beef and that did not remind me of tacos very much. You might be surprised by the hamburger, instead of slow cooking melty chunks of beef chuck or something like that, but when I started this soup I was going for fast and easy. The homemade beef stock will make it taste complex and as though you spent hours slaving over the stove, but that is the beauty of making a large quantity of homemade stock at a time and then freezing it. It was a good reminder to myself that I need to regularly make homemade stock!
- 2-3 T vegetable oil
- 2 medium large onions, chopped
- salt to taste
- 1 cup red wine, divided
- 2 large carrots, finely diced
- 2 T minced garlic
- 2 sweet bell peppers, diced
- 1 t ground pasilla chile pepper
- 1 t New Mexico chile powder
- 1 T ancho powder
- 1 T ground cumin
- 1 lb sliced crimini mushrooms
- 2 1/2 lbs ground beef
- 2 cans diced tomatoes (fired roasted would be good but I used one with chilies and one with lime and cilantro, whatever you have is fine)
- 7 cups beef stock (preferably homemade)
- 1+ cups long grain rice (I used a combo of texmati and basmati)
- 1-2 T red wine vinegar
- 2 cups whole fat greek yogurt
- chopped cilantro for garnishing
- shredded cheese for garnish (any kind that sounds good, I had a bag of Mexican blend to be used)
Heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the onions are softened and translucent, about 10 minutes.
Keep the red wine beside the cooktop. If the vegetables ever start to stick or scorch, poor a little of the red wine in to deglaze the pot.
Add the garlic and carrots with another pinch of salt. Stir and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
Add the sweet bell peppers with a pinch of salt. Continue to cook--and to deglaze with red wine as needed--for 2-3 minutes.
Add the dried spices and stir to roast the spices for 2-3 minutes.
Add the mushrooms with a pinch of sat. Stir occasionally, until they have released their liquid and are smaller.
Add the ground beef with a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally until it has browned.
Add the tomatoes and the remaining red wine. Stir them in and bring them to a boil. Reduce heat to medium for a brisk simmer. Cook for 5 minutes.
Add the beef stock. Bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Let the soup simmer and the flavors meld for 20 minutes.
Add the rice and let it simmer until the rice is tender (I prefer white rice in this dish but if you use brown rice plan for this step to take a lot longer, 30-40 minutes, and add the rice during the last step).
Stir in 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar.
Dump the yogurt into a bowl. Add small ladles of the broth and whisk it into the yogurt. When the yogurt is hot, turn off the heat and pour the tempered yogurt into the soup. Stir until combined.
Taste for more red wine vinegar and salt. Serve hot garnished with chopped cilantro and shredded cheese.
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