With flavors reminiscent of spaghetti and meatballs, we began this soup by browning a pound of lean ground sirloin, then bulking the mixture up with chopped onion, celery and carrots. To round out the flavor, a mess of minced garlic is added, along with oregano and a couple shakes of cayenne pepper sauce. As soon as the onion had time to soften, we stirred in a few tablespoons of thick, concentrated tomato paste. We've mentioned this before, but I think this is an important point - when you add tomato paste, be sure to stir it in before any liquids, so the paste has contact with the bottom of the pan. This gives the paste a chance to develop a rich character that it might not get otherwise.
To continue the soup, we added fire-roasted diced tomatoes, beef broth, a cupful of water, a splash of vinegar for an acidic balance to the sweeter tomatoes and a pinch of sugar. While you are not really looking to bring additional sweetness to the soup with the sugar, it tends to help remove any "tinny" flavors that might linger from the can. Once the soup was given a chance to simmer for awhile, allowing the flavors to marry and the vegetables to become tender, broken pieces of thin pasta are added and the pot is removed from the heat to finish cooking the pasta through. There was enough residual heat left in the pot to cook the pasta to the perfect degree - we used the bits and pieces we've been saving from our boxes of whole-wheat spaghetti, but use whatever small or thin pasta you like. Just take a taste to make sure the pasta is ready before serving.
Once served, a fresh grating from our block of Parmesan cheese in each bowl was the last needed touch. Liquid-y enough to not be mistaken as a loose bowl of spaghetti, but still thick enough to have body and texture, this fantastic hearty bowl of soup warmed us up from the inside out!
Meaty Spaghetti Soup