1 small carrot, quartered lengthwise and sliced thickly
1 rib celery, cut into 0.5cm
300g beef (chuck tender or topside), cut into 1cm cubes
2 large, ripe tomatoes, skinned and cut into 1cm cubes
1.5 litres beef stock or water *
150g shelled borlotti beans (optional)
1 small courgette (zucchini), quartered lengthwise and thickly sliced
10-12 french beans, cut into 1cm lengths
1 cup cabbage, diced into 2cm pieces
10 fresh mushrooms (button, shiitake or oyster), thinly sliced
2tsp tomato paste
1 handful of spinach leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a pan and saute onion, leek, carrot and celery over medium heat until softened but not browned (about 12 minutes). Add beef and tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes before adding stock (or water). Bring to boil, then turn down heat. Simmer for one hour, until beef is tender. Halfway through, add borlotti beans.
Add mushrooms, courgette, french beans and cabbage and simmer 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in tomato paste and season to taste with salt and pepper. Just before taking pan off heat, add chopped spinach and stir for a few moments.
Ladle hot soup into deep bowls and serve with cooked pasta or bread.
* This soup is best if made with beef stock (made by gently simmering 1.5kg of beef bones with 1 quartered onion, 1 thickly sliced carrot and 1 rib thickly sliced celery for two hours. Strain and discard solids). But in a pinch, water will do, as the soup has plenty of vegetables and beef to give it a good flavour. Don´t bother using stock cubes!