Hamburger Vegetable Soup

INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon of bacon grease or cooking oil
1 medium onion (yellow or sweet), peeled & diced
4 stalks of celery, thinly sliced (I used O Organics® celery hearts)
2 large carrots, peeled, quartered & thinly sliced (I used O Organics carrots®)
1 lb. of ground beef (I used O Organics® 85% lean/15% fat grass-fed ground beef)
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of minced garlic (3-4 large cloves)
2 sweet bell peppers (red, orange, or yellow), cored & diced
2 cups of shredded cabbage
1 medium russet potato, peeled & chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled & chopped
2 (14.5 oz) cans of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon of sea salt or Kosher salt (plus more at the end, to taste)
1 teaspoon of black pepper (plus more at the end, to taste)
7 cups of low-sodium beef broth
2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar or lemon juice
2 teaspoons of sugar (I used coconut sugar)
Toppings (Optional):
shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
chopped fresh parsley
extra black pepper


INSTRUCTIONS
Measure the bacon grease (or cooking oil) into a large pot set to medium-high heat. Once it’s melted & warmed, add the onion, carrot, and celery. Sprinkle with a bit of salt & pepper, then cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the ground beef, sprinkle with a bit more salt & pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes, breaking the meat into small chunks with a wooden spoon.
Stir in the tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add the sweet bell pepper, cabbage, russet potato, sweet potato, diced tomatoes, crushed red pepper, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and beef broth.
Stir the mixture well, cover with a lid, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for one hour, or until the potatoes are tender and the broth has absorbed the flavors from the beef, dried herbs & fresh aromatics.
Measure in the Worcestershire sauce, vinegar (or lemon juice), and sugar. Taste the soup for seasoning. If needed, add more salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar, or Worcestershire sauce one teaspoon at a time to balance the flavors of the broth.
To serve, ladle the hamburger soup into bowls and (optional) top with parmesan cheese, chopped fresh parsley, and extra black pepper. Pair with crusty buttered bread for dunking in the savory broth.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days OR freeze for up to 3 months.


NOTES:

POT SIZE: This soup has LOTS of veggies and broth, so I recommend using at least a 7-quart pot in order to have enough room for everything to cook properly. If you only have a 5-6 quart pot and still want to make this, omit a few of the veggies (like the cabbage & one of the bell peppers) and reduce the broth by a cup.