Chunky Beef and Macaroni Soup

A chunky soup cooked with cubes of beef brisket, macaroni, chunks of tomatoes, lots of onions and garlic, carrots, and bell peppers. Place the beef in a casserole. Cover with water. Add the whole garlic, onion, peppercorns, 1 bay leaf and 1 tbsp. of salt. Bring to a boil, removing scum as it rises. Transfer the meat to a plate and cool completely. Strain the broth and set aside. When cool, cut the beef into 1/2″ x 1/2″ cubes.

Heat the olive oil in a casserole. Add the beef cubes and cook over medium-high heat until the edges start to brown. Add the minced garlic, chopped onions, and bay leaf. Continue cooking until the onions are transparent. Add the carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, basil, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring, about a minute. Pour in the beef broth (use the minimum amount for a very chunky soup). Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a rolling boil and add the macaroni. Stir and bring to a boil once more.
Rice Noodles and Dumplings

The funny thing about eating out in Metro Manila is that you’d find more Western than Asian food. The fast food chains are the kings. Their usual fare consists of fried chicken (that’s a mainstay), spaghetti, pizza, french fries and sundae. Among Asian restaurants, half would be Chinese, a fourth would be Japanese and the remaining fourth would be Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Singaporean, Middle Eastern, and the rest. I prefer Chinese. My kids prefer Japanese. My husband prefers steaks. On one of those rare occasions when everyone was agreeable to try something new, we went to a Vietnamese restaurant. We’ve gone there several times since. “Rice Noodles and Dumplings” is my version of a Vietnamese noodle soup we enjoyed there.

Mix the pork, egg, garlic, chopped carrots, onion, and onion leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Fill each wonton wrapper with about a tablespoon of the mixture (if using small wrappers, reduce the filling). Set aside.

Saute the garlic and onions in oil. Pour in the broth. Bring to a boil. Add the rice noodles. Do not lower the heat. Scoop out the noodles after 2 minutes (or refer to package directions; just don’t overcook it) and transfer to a serving bowl. Bring the broth to a boil once more and drop the dumplings one by one, not too fast as the temperature will drop drastically. Uncover and add the carrots. Adjust seasoning (if the stock had been seasoned, this may not be necessary). Turn off the heat and pour the broth, vegetables, and dumplings onto the noodles. Stir a little to distribute. Sprinkle with chopped onion leaves and serve hot.