This is a great soup, if I do say so myself. I used to make a version of it with beef-flavored texturized vegetable protein (TVP) when I was a vegetarian. Now I make it with the real thing.
1 to 1.5 lbs lean stew beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 can diced tomatoes (Italian style are good!)
3 cups beef broth (can be made from bouillon)
3-4 cups V-8 or other vegetable juice
about 2 cups frozen pole beans
1/2 to 3/4 bag frozen cheese tortellini
To taste: salt, pepper, basil, Worcestershire, whatever you please.
1) Cut the beef into little bite-sized pieces. I do this for the little mouths in the family and also because the meat will cook to tender more quickly. Heat a little (1-2 tsp) olive oil and brown the meat. Then toss in the chopped onion and saute until the beef is pretty much cooked and the onion is soft.
2) Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes, undrained. Then add the beef broth and bring to a simmer. Then add the V-8 and seasonings. Again, bring to a simmer. Then dump in the celery and carrot slices and simmer on low heat for maybe 30 minutes or until the carrots and celery are starting to get tender.
3) Add the frozen pole beans and return to simmering until the polebeans are heated through. About 10 minutes before serving, add the frozen tortellini to the simmering soup. Don't over-cook the tortellini! If I am using the dried tortellini rather than frozen, I use a bit more liquid in the soup or else I cook the tortellini separately and add to the soup.
4) At the last minute, adjust your seasoning. Serve with a crusty bread and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
You will note from my fuzzy photo that I had to use regular green beans this time...my Italian pole beans were freezer-burned. Oops.