Ground beef soup can come in a variety of forms. The convenience of using ground beef in a soup is often played on in the recipes, providing a way to quickly prepare a balanced and flavorful meal for any number of people. There are recipes for ground beef soup that closely resemble chili, with beans and hot chili peppers. Italian versions exist in which the ground beef is formed into meatballs and served over egg noodles. Other types of ground beef soup sometimes emulate different classic dishes such as cheeseburger soup, stroganoff soup and ground beef gumbo.
The versatility of ground beef allows it to be cooked with nearly any available method. When added to the liquid of a soup, it can cook slowly while maintaining moisture. It also can be browned beforehand and then added to the soup near the end so it keeps a firmer texture. One of the only precautions to take when making ground beef soup is to not allow the meat to simmer for too long in the soup, because it could become rubbery and lose flavor over time.
One type of ground beef soup is known as taco soup, or chuck wagon soup. This is made with ground beef, kidney or black beans, hot chili peppers, onions and spices such as cumin. The meat and spices are usually fried before being added to the pot. The liquid is water or stock with tomato sauce, paste or juice added. It can be served over rice or with cornbread.
Another way to make ground beef soup is to flavor the meat with Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and onions. Beef stock is added and reduced a small amount. Egg noodles are dropped into the stock and cooked until soft, after which some sour cream is mixed in to make the soup creamy. This is a type of beef stroganoff soup with a dense flavor.
An Italian version of ground beef soup involves mixing the ground beef with Italian spices, some grated cheese and eggs. It is formed into small meatballs and then poached in beef stock with vegetables and pasta. Alternately, the meatballs can be fried or baked before being placed in the soup so they have some surface texture.
A common way to make ground beef soup in some households is to start with vegetables such as diced potatoes, onions, peas and carrots. They are cooked in a pot along with the ground beef, a good amount of pepper and some tomato sauce or tomato juice. Spices such as thyme, oregano and parsley are added. The finished soup is a hearty mix of meat and potatoes with some sweetness from the peas and spices.