A one-of-a-kind pastrami soup

Last month, husband Stephen came to me and suggested that we try to make pastrami.

Pastrami is a beef brisket that is brined (for 10 days!), then crusted with spices, smoked to 150°, and then steamed to 203°. When he described it to me, it seemed like an enormous amount of work, and it also seemed like an enormous amount of fun.

And so we began.

Stephen made the brine, which is water, salt, brown sugar and spices including mustard seed, black peppercorns, whole cloves, allspice berries, bay leaves and ginger. Not finding “pink salt” locally, we opted to leave it out. (Pink salt is a nitrate that turns the meat pink, and there are some who say that nitrates are not especially good for you.) We submerged the two briskets in the brine and dutifully I turned them every day.

On day 10, we fired up the smoker and crusted the meat with more spices. We were surprised that the meat registered 150° in a little under two hours. The next step was to steam the meat in the oven. Lacking a big enough roasting pan, we purchased two large aluminum ones. Setting a small cookie rack in them, we poured in water, covered it, we steamed the meat for about two more hours.

And lo and behold—we made pastrami. It was amazing! And tasty.

It was easy, and we agreed that we’ll do it again.

With the pastrami done, I eyeballed the steamed liquid that was filled with aromatic spices. I put it through a sieve and was rewarded with six cups of pastrami broth. (I know, how could one ever repeat this recipe?)

So I made soup. I sautéed one chopped onion, two carrots, and two ribs of celery. I added the broth and diced up a couple of slices of pastrami, cut into strips. I added 4 oz. of rice noodles, which I cooked directly in the pastrami broth. It was amazingly yummy.

This kind of dinner, a broth, with a few veggies, sometimes some tortellini or mini-raviolis, has become my go-to dinner this winter. I don’t know what will happen once the springtime comes, but I have to say that I’m really enjoying these brothy dinners. I get my pasta and meat fix, and, at the same time, I feel like I eat less pasta and less meat, and less bulk in general.

Here’s the recipe. You could substitute a different broth for the pastrami steaming water.

Pastrami soup


6 cups broth

1 large onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 ribs of celery, chopped

2 Tbsp. olive oil

4 oz. rice noodles or 12 oz. frozen tortellini or mini ravioli

1-2 cups leftover chicken, small meatballs, pastrami or tofu



Sauté onions, carrots and celery in olive oil. Cook ravioli and meatballs as recommended. Add broth to cooked veggies, and add the other ingredients. Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve.

Variations: Add a small can of diced tomatoes; add diced black olives; add 3 cloves chopped garlic; add 2 Tbsp. pesto or sun-dried tomatoes, add whatever you like to eat, in whatever combination seems to suit you in the moment.

Let your taste buds be your guide. Enjoy. Have fun. Celebrate. Serves two, with leftovers.



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