Esta's Kitchen: The Triumphant Return of Esta!

Finished product... and cute toes.
Esther Buchanon - Finished product... and cute toes.

Well, team I have an announcement to make.  I’m now a Cape Codder living down South.

It was a difficult decision to make but in the end, I decided that my awesomeness could not be contained to one area. It wasn’t fair to the rest of the world.

So I’ve retired from the newspaper life and have now decided to become a ______ (I'll fill in the blank when I figure it out). I thought about becoming a belly dancer. But it turned out that they don’t actually require you to have a big belly... so confusing. I thought about realizing my dream of becoming an Olympian. However, it turns out “Sexy Columnist” isn’t actually a category. Shame really, I’m WAY ahead in the training program.

There are a few glaring differences between living down South and living up North. For starters the sweet, sweet smell of BBQ in the air. It was the first meal I had when I moved South because when it comes to the fine art of BBQ, no one does it like the Southern folk. No offense, but the North can’t cook BBQ.  

The second difference is FRIED THINGS EVERYWHERE! The other day I saw a sign that said “Fried Gizzards and Livers. White Gravy. 49¢." Gizzards are just gross, but seeing a sign for white gravy for sale was like sex for my eyes.

The third and final difference (for now) is a place called “Hobby Lobby” which I immediately recognized as the ninth level of hell. So many crafts, and crafters and annoying people, and they were all in my way.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have gone this close to Christmas.

Bring On The Beer (And Soup)

But I digress. You all came here for a beer recipe and while my geographical location has changed, my ability to cook up deliciousness to fill my belly and yours, has not. Today we are making Beer Veggie & Beef Soup and as usual it was a masterpiece. But what else would you expect from an Olympian-in-training?

For beer I used a family favorite from around these parts called Shiner Bock created by Spoetzl Brewery out of Shiner, Texas. It's a deep amber bock, and very smooth. I was surprised when I first tasted it how light it was in the beginning. The flavor hit a second later with a rich kind of sweetness and despite the full flavor it was so smooth. I couldn’t get over the smoothness. I also liked  that there was no bitterness, even on the end of the sip. It’s a good quality beer with an even-taste that you could drink over and over again.

And isn’t this what we are all going for? A beer that we can drink 10 of and not get sick of? Maybe it’s just me... all part of the training program.

It was the perfect beer to cook soup with because remember the longer that soup cooks, or sits, the deeper the flavor becomes. If you use a bitter beer or something too strong, the flavor will overpower everything else.  

Whatever kind of veggies you want to use will probably be just fine. I selected ones that I was in the mood for at the time. I recommend keeping the cabbage as it adds a sweetness that balances the soup nicely.  

When I set out to make this soup I didn’t want just run-of-the-mill veggie soup that tasted like watery tomatoes with mushy vegetables. I wanted a deep rich flavor with layers of flavor. If you are going to cook with beer you shouldn’t waste the flavor it adds.

The key to this soup was caramelization. After I sauteed the meat I added the tomato paste and cooked it until it began to caramelize. If you’ve never caramelized tomato paste then you should. It changes the flavor of it almost completely like roasted tomatoes.  

You can tell when it's ready because you will begin to smell it and the bottom of the pan will begin to turn brown. When you add the beer it braises all that good flavor up into the soup.

Next I added the beef stock, garlic and spices and let them all simmer together for awhile. The beer and stock reduced some, and I ended up with a lovely thick, rich base full of flavor. That base became the bottom layer that stood up to all the tomatoes and water I added later. And you know what they say about being on the bottom.

While I used ground turkey for this recipe, the meat is optional if you want total veggie. It's important that you let this soup be thicker than you expect it to be. This way the flavor will hold and the veggies won’t become just mush.

Beer Veggie Soup

  • 1lb of ground turkey or beef (optional)

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped

  • ½ head of cabbage, medium sliced

  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cubed

  • 2 broccoli crowns, roughly stemmed

  • 1 6oz can of tomato paste

  • 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained

  • 1 14 oz can of beef broth

  • 1 cup of beer

  • 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

  • 2 cups of water

  • 1 15 oz can of corn or ½ package of frozen corn

  • Green peas (optional)

  • 1 T of Worchestershire Sauce

  • 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped. (I’m into roughly chopping garlic in soups)

  • ½ t of cumin

  • 1 heaping t of Paprika

  • 1T of salt

  • 2 beef boullion cubes (I used Knorr; don’t use the cheap stuff)

  • ¼ t of cayenne

  • 1 T Olive Oil


Saute the onions and ground turkey in olive oil on medium-heat till done.  Increase heat and add the tomato paste, cook until the tomato paste begins to caramelize in bottom of pan.  

Add beer and scrape bottom of pan until all the lovely bits come up, about 5 minutes. Add the beer broth, garlic and all the spices. Simmer at a medium heat for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add diced tomatoes and crushed tomatoes and 1 cup of water.  Add all the veggies except corn. Add final cup of water if needed. Cabbage will look like it won’t fit but will cook down.

Cover pot and simmer on low heat till all veggies are done, about 20 to 30 minutes. Add corn and cook about 10 minutes more. Keep soup on low heat til ready to serve.

For Esta's favorite recipes of cornbread feel free to email her at and add her as a friend on Facebook at Esta's Kitchen.


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