This fabulous Instant Pot (or oven) Pasta and Beef Soup is a throw-it-all in-the-pot soup that’s loaded with tender chunks of beef and lots of healthy veggies!
I just finished cooking the oven version of this Pasta and Beef Soup and the house is filled with the most delicious aroma. Outside, it’s snowing huge fluffy flakes and, from up on our mountain perch, I feel like we’re in the center of a beautiful snow globe. The temperature is supposed to plummet as the day goes on and the roads are predicted to become slick and icy. But you know what? I don’t really care. It’s fun to be tucked inside on a cold winter day, especially with a big pot of this wonderful pasta and beef soup!
A few magic tricks required
Both the instant pot and oven versions of this beef soup are easy, throw-it-all-in-the-pot recipes and require no browning of the beef or sauteing of the aromatics (onions, garlic, peppers, etc). Browning beef and sauteing aromatics are both steps that add lots of flavor to soups, stews, chilies, etc., so it’s important to add flavor in other ways when omitting these classic cooking processes.
In this Pasta and Beef Soup, there are a number of little tricks I employ to create such delicious flavor and beautiful color that you won’t miss the flavor that comes with the extra trouble of browning and sauteing. Here’s a rundown of what I call, flavor boosters included in this soup:
- Purchased pesto. Pesto adds the amazing flavor with just a scoop from a jar. Pesto includes basil, garlic, parmesan cheese and olive oil. Check out tips for buying (and storing) pesto below.
- Worcestershire sauce. This condiment is a magical combination of ingredients that can add tons of flavor to soups and stews.
- Mild paprika. Mild paprika is, like it says, mild in flavor. I add it more for the richness of color it helps bring to this beef soup. After all, we do eat with our eyes before the food ever gets to our mouths, right?
- Dark Beer. A bottle of dark beer not only adds a nice hearty flavor to this beef soup and brings out the richness of the meat and veggies, but also gives it a beautiful rich color. See tips on buying ale below.
- Italian seasoning. I love Italian seasoning as it combines a wonderful array of herbs in one jar. Italian seasoning generally includes basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. The exact quantities of each vary by brand. It definitely doesn’t have to be limited to Italian cuisine. We go through a lot of it here at The Café since it’s a wonderful flavor booster.
- Tomato paste. This beef soup recipe includes a can of tomato paste which adds rich, smooth flavor and adds to the rich hue as well.
- Brown sugar. One reader asked if I always add brown sugar to my soup. I do use it frequently, as one tablespoon helps round out all the other flavors by making the soup slightly sweet.
- Fresh basil. After this soup is cooked (either in the instant pot or oven) a generous scoop of fresh basil is the finishing touch. It adds another layer of fresh, delicious flavor.
- The onion and bell pepper that are included in this beef soup are diced very small. As the soup cooks, the tiny-diced onion and pepper “melt” into the broth, helping create more fabulous flavor. I use my Vidalia Chop Wizard to chop these veggies into a nice small dice, lickety-split. It’s one of my favorite, and simplest, kitchen tools.
Well, I’m going to call Scott for lunch and serve him a bowl of this wonderful beef soup that’s been calling my name ever since I started writing this post. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Café Tips for making this Instant Pot (or oven) Pasta and Beef Soup
- I like to purchase stew beef at Sam’s or Costco. It’s nice and lean and very reasonably priced. The packages are usually around 4 pounds. I divide it in two when I get home and freeze the meat in approximately 2-pound parcels. 2 pounds is a perfect amount for most stew and soup recipes, like this Italian Vegetable Beef Soup or this hearty Beef Bourginoun Soup.
- There’s a bottle of dark beer included in this recipe. Don’t skip it! It adds a rich, hearty flavor, the kind you get from a soup or stew that’s been simmering all day. If you don’t regularly purchase beer, you can often buy just one or two bottles at larger grocery stores. I use a dark Guinness Stout for this recipe. Other good options would be Duck Rabbit Milk Stout or Bell’s Kalamazoo (my son, Nick is my beer advisor, an expert and my go-to guy for beer advice).
And don’t worry about the alcohol, virtually all of it is evaporated during the cooking process.
- Of course, there’s nothing like homemade pesto, so if you have that, by all means, use it in this recipe. I don’t usually have the time to make my own pesto so I often use prepared pesto. When purchasing pesto, look for a brand with a nice green hue. You want the main ingredients to be basil and parmesan cheese. I like to buy the large jars of pesto that are sold in the refrigerator section at Costco and Sam’s. The flavor is great for cooking and it stores well in the freezer. I store it right in the jar that it comes in. When I want to use it, I let it thaw just a bit (10 minutes), then scoop out what I need and pop it back in the freezer. It can also be divided into smaller portions and frozen that way. Some people like to use ice cube trays to freeze the pesto. Once frozen, the cubes can be popped out and stored in a plastic freezer bag.
- Don’t cut the carrots too small for this soup. If cut too small, they’ll get mushy by the time the beef is cooked. I like to cut mine in approximately 1/2-inch slices
- Israeli couscous is also called pearl pasta. You can purchase it at most larger grocers, but it’s often found near the rice or regular couscous rather than with the pasta. If your grocery has a kosher section, you’ll be sure to find it there. Trader Joes also carries it and it’s available online.
- This soup freezes well. However, if you plan to freeze it, I would add the omit the pasta till after the soup is thawed and you’re ready to rewarm it. Pasta can get a little mushy when frozen and thawed.
- The Israeli couscous (pasta) is cooked separately in this recipe as it will absorb too much of the broth if cooked right in the soup. It cooks quickly though and can be done during the last minutes before the soup is finished.
- Sometimes this soup will get a little thick after it sits in the refrigerator as the pasta will absorb some of the broth. You can always add more beef broth to thin it out.
- I love this Chiquilin Spanish Mild Paprika. I first discovered it when we were traveling in France several years ago and was thrilled to find it on Amazon for such a reasonable price when I ran out.
- Fresh basil can be purchased at most larger grocery stores in the produce department. One of the little packs is about 1/4 cup of finely chopped basil which is how much is needed for this beef soup. If you’re looking for a wonderful buy, Trader Joes sells a huge pack of fresh basil for $2.99, year round.
- I love to serve this Pasta and Beef Soup topped with a grating of good Parmesan cheese and a loaf of warm Ridiculously Easy Seeded Focaccia Bread – delish!
This fabulous Instant Pot (or oven) Pasta and Beef Soup is a throw-it-all in-the-pot soup that's loaded with tender chunks of beef and lots of healthy veggies!
- 3 cups low sodium beef broth
- 1 11- ounce bottle or can of dark ale see notes above
- 6 ounce can tomato paste
- ¼ cup pesto
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 large sweet onion diced small
- 1 large yellow bell pepper diced small
- 1 pound carrots sliced about 1/4-1/2-inch thick
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoons mild paprika
- 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds lean stew beef or lean chuck roast cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 cup Israeli Couscous uncooked
- ¼ cup fresh basil
Combine all ingredients except fresh basil and Israeli couscous in the Instant Pot. Place lid on the Instant Pot, make sure the vent nozzle is in the non-venting position, set to ”pressure cook - high“ and set timer for 20 minutes. Allow steam to vent for 10 minutes then release steam manually using the valve on top. When pressure is completely released, remove the lid.
While the soup is cooking in the instant pot, bring a medium-size pot of salted water to a boil. Add Israeli couscous and cook for 8 minutes or until pasta is tender. Drain well and add to soup when finished.
Add fresh chopped basil. Stir to combine. Serve and enjoy!
Preheat oven to 300˚F. Combine all ingredients except Israeli couscous and fresh basil in a large Dutch oven. Cover and place in the oven for 3 hours or until meat is very tender. When finished, remove from oven and add cooked couscous (see below) and fresh basil. Stir well. Serve and enjoy!
Towards the end of the three hours cooking time, bring a medium-size pot of salted water to a boil. Add Israeli couscous and cook for 8 minutes or until pasta is tender. Drain well and add to soup with fresh basil when finished. Stir to combine. Serve and enjoy!
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