We all know that some kids are better at eating their vegetables than others. Well, If you happen to have a picky eater in your house, then this recipe is for you. Why do I call it Sneaky Veggie and Beef Soup? Because I sneak 3 stalks of celery, one whole red bell pepper, and 3 packed cups of hearty kale leaves in this dish, but all of the vegetables are blended into a purée before cooking, so nobody would ever know! With the fresh, familiar flavors of tangy lime, smokey cumin, and sweet red bell pepper, this sneaky soup sure pleased all three of my guys at dinner last night, and Nikhil (my fussy one) had no clue that he was eating green vegetables.
To make a meal out of it, I served our soup over jasmine rice that I spiced with a quarter teaspoon each of turmeric and cinnamon, and my two year old gobbled up his first serving and quickly went in for seconds. If you can tolerate dairy (lucky you!), I’d bet that a dollop of sour cream would be a divine accompaniment. And if you are eating Paleo or grain free as I am these days, you could enjoy this delicious soup alone, with slices of ripe avocado, or with some roasted squash or sweet potatoes. No matter how you decide to enjoy your Sneaky Soup, I hope you and your family loves it as much as mine!
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 pound grass fed ground beef*
1/4 cup dried onion or 1/2 cup fresh yellow or white onion, finely diced (I used dried onion because that’s all that I had in the house. Be sure it’s dried onion flakes, and not onion powder.)
1 large red bell pepper, seeds removed, roughly chopped
3 large stalks celery, roughly chopped
3 packed cups kale leaves
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups chicken broth**
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2-1 tsp sea salt (depends on your preference)
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
* If you don’t care for beef, ground turkey would be a great substitute.
**If you use reduced sodium broth, you’ll most likely need to add extra salt at the end to achieve the right flavor.
Pour 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a large soup pot and heat over a medium setting. Add in the dried onion or fresh onion plus your ground beef, and begin to break the beef apart with a wooden spoon. Continue cooking the beef over medium-low heat, crumbling the meat as much as possible, and stirring everything to allow the onions to cook through until at least translucent, if you used fresh onions. If you used dried onions, they will do their thing and turn a little golden brown.
While the beef and onions are cooking, prepare your vegetables: Place the red bell pepper, celery, garlic, and chicken broth in your blender cup, and process until everything is blended into a smooth puree. Add in the kale leaves, and blend again until the kale is pureed (you could try adding all of the veggies on the first try, but kale is pretty bulky so it might not all fit). You’ll have a somewhat frothy, watery, strange looking liquid, but don’t worry- this will all cook down and turn into a beautiful soup.
Once the beef and onion have cooked through, add the pureed veggies and broth mixture, ground cumin and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt to the pot. Give everything a good stir, and then bring it to a boil. Once you’ve reached a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and let it cook uncovered for about 20-30 minutes until the liquid has reduced and you’re left with a rich, somewhat thick soup. The consistency of the soup will be almost as thick as chili, but definitely “soupier.”
Once you’ve reached a consistency that you’re happy with, turn off the heat and stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and fresh lime juice. Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves. Enjoy!