Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hearty and Warm Stew for a Chilly Winter Day

It's just a tiny bit cold outside today. Why not take some time to relax and make a hot, comforting soup? This Italian Vegetable and Beef Stew is simple to make, and will warm you through and through. Enjoy.

Italian Vegetable and Beef Stew
1 pound lean ground beef
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
28 ounces (usually 2 cans) beef broth
14 ounces (usually 1 can) Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained, with tomatoes broken up with your hands
1 cup sliced carrots
16 ounces (1 can) cannellini (white kidney) or Great Northern beans, rinsed, drained
1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise in half and crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 cups torn spinach leaves
1 bunch of Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Generous handful of grated Parmesan
Heat large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add ground beef and garlic; brown 4 to 5 minutes, breaking beef up into medium-size crumbles. Pour off drippings. Season beef with pepper and salt. Stir broth, tomatoes and carrots into beef. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Stir in beans and zucchini, and continue to cook for about 5 minutes or until zucchini is crisp-tender. Remove from heat; stir in spinach. Garnish with chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese.

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