Here I use my secret ingredient again, Better Than Bouillon as the base for any recipe calling for soup
stock. It is found in most large grocery store chains in the USA. You can substitute any broth or stock that you
make from scratch or else from bouillon cubes.
We can use a relatively inexpensive cut of beef:
chuck or pot roast. Here the beef is cooked in liquid
so long and thoroughly that it comes out tender and
moist every time. The addition of pasta gives this version of beef stew plenty for us to chew on – very
satisfying! Plus the added Thai curry paste gives an extra kick of flavor and spiciness on a cold day.
2 ½ quarts (10 cups) beef broth – I use 4 tablespoons of Better Than Bouillon, chicken or beef flavor, to
make the broth. Their reduced sodium version works very well here, too.
2-3 pounds beef chuck steak or “pot roast”, fat removed, cut into 1-1 ½ inch chunks
1 tablespoon oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine
1-2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 stalks celery, cleaned and trimmed then chopped into ¼-½ inch pieces
5-6 carrots, peeled and chopped into ¼ inch thick rounds
1 or 2 medium to large yellow onions, peeled and diced
½ pound fresh or dried tortellini or other stuffed pasta. I use fresh pasta
so that less broth is absorbed during its cooking.
1-2 teaspoons Thai curry paste, I use Maesri brand, usually Panang flavor
Optional: 2 sticks of cinnamon added along with the beef broth, or 1-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
First, brown the beef cubes in the oil and all the garlic in the bottom of a large stew or stockpot. You need
to brown the beef in 2-3 batches and not all at once. That’s because if you just throw all the beef in the pot
there will be excess moisture steaming out of the beef cubes and so they will steam themselves without
browning. So brown a few at a time to get that appetizing color on each piece.
After browning, add all the beef and the beef broth plus curry paste together with the carrot, celery and
onion in the stewpot and bring to a simmer under medium-low heat. Simmer until the beef is tender but not
falling apart. This will take about 2 to 2 ½ hours depending on the cut of your beef. At the 2 hour mark, add
the potatoes since if you add them at the beginning they will cook down to a mush. They cook much faster
than the beef, but not as fast as the other vegetables.
At last you can add the fresh or dried pasta. I like to add the pasta to the soup without cooking it
beforehand. Cooking the pasta in the beef broth allows the pasta to absorb the flavor of the broth which really
helps to make this recipe a crowd pleaser. You will lose a lot of the broth to absorption by the pasta, especially
if the pasta is dried and not fresh, but that will make the pasta taste all the better. Just add a little water if you
lose too much broth. I usually use fresh pasta to minimize the loss of broth and make this dish more soup-like.
Let the broth cook off if you want more of a stew than a soup.
It is especially tricky to pick the time to add the pasta to the broth. You must not add it too early so that the
pasta cooks down to mush. You must not add it too late so that the pasta is not fully cooked through and tough
What I usually do is make sure that the beef is cooked until tender, then turn off the heat and add some
fresh tortellini that I have previously frozen. As the broth cools, it cooks through the frozen tortellini to a perfect
consistency. You will have to experiment with your pasta’s cooking times.
Serve hot – and it freezes well!
Tortellini Beef Soup / Beef Stew