Smokey Chili Mac Soup

Two more days until the official Slurpin’ Season begins!

Smokey Chili Mac Soup / Bev Cooks

Everything I said just now was 100% true, except for the whole official part. So never mind everything I said just now.

But you can still slurp if you want. You should slurp this! Let me tell you about it.

I love this recipe. I had such a gas (not be confused with “I had gas”) coming up with it. It’s verrrr basic, but SUPER fall and actually a bit healthy. So don’t get mad at me. I put kale in it. OFF WITH HER HEAD.

Smokey Chili Mac Soup / Bev Cooks

Let’s build.

You start with beef. Grass-fed beef. But you can swap out turkey or chicken or pigeon or ostrich here, if ya need. You brown it, add a smooch of smoked paprika (Aaron always says, “It’s paprika-y.” I say, “IT’S ONLY TWO TEASPOONS, I THINK YOU CAN CHILL.” And he says, “No, I like it like this.” And I say, “Oh.” The end.), onions and garlic, and pinto beans! I needed to sneak pinto beans into this meal because pinto beans have become my life. I’m dedicated to the pinto.

It is also my main goal in life to find this car. Or a station wagon. Or an ’80s Volvo. Or an ’80s Volvo station wagon. Or all of them. Le sigh.

Smokey Chili Mac Soup / Bev Cooks

Then you add some tomato paste. I also included a little Lidia Bastianich trick I’ve learned through my years of watching her on the PEE.BEE.ESS., and that is to caramelize the tomato paste right in the pot. You like, scoot the meat and beans to the side, add the paste, mash it into the pot with your wooden spoon, until it breaks up a browns juuuuust a leetle beet. Then mix it into the beef mix. Ugh, Lidia. You good.

Then add some fire-roasted tomatoes, six cups of stock, and let it simmer for a tad. Then pour in some elbow mac and rejoice your face off.

Smokey Chili Mac Soup / Bev Cooks

Once the elbows becomes al dente (<–gross), just stir in about 5 handfuls of kale. I didn’t really measure here. I just kept adding until I couldn’t see through my tears.

Smokey Chili Mac Soup / Bev Cooks

Noooooow comes the cheese.

See, originally I wanted to call this a smokey, beefy macaroni and cheese SOUP. I thought about a) stirring a bunch of cheese right into the pot, but Aaron would divorce me, b) broiling the shredded cheese on top of each bowl, c) letting it melt naturally on top of each bowl, d) throwing a major fit because I can’t decide and succumbing to the fact that I’m actually kind of enjoying Fuller House. (just punch me.)

So this is what I did. I topped each bowl with the cheese, and then stirred it in. Such a lunatic, I know.

But the facts remain, it’s stinkin’ GOOD. The soup has delicate hint of smoke. It’s beefy, without feeling like you’re eating a whole entire cow. It’s got kale in it, which basically cancels out the carbs. And it’s got carbs in it, which basically cancels out the health and frankly, makes you a better person.

Smokey Chili Mac Soup / Bev Cooks

Yew best get in that.

Smokey Chili Mac Soup
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  • 1 pound grass-fed beef
  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 heaping Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 (15 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 cup elbow macaroni
  • 4 - 5 cups chopped kale
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • parsley, for garnish
  • coarse salt


  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, brown the beef with a wooden spoon. Once it’s crumbled and no longer pink, add the chopped onion, garlic and a pinch of salt. Sauté until the veggies are tender, just about 3 minutes. Add the smoked paprika and stir until coated and fragrant. Add the pinto beans and stir to combine.
  2. Then scoot the mix to the side and add the tomato paste. Using a wooden spoon, sort of mash the paste into the pot, letting it break up and caramelize, just about a minute. Then stir the paste into the meat and beans.
  3. Add the fire-roasted tomatoes and stock. Bring it to a rolling simmer, and add the pasta. Once the pasta reaches al dente, maybe six minutes, add the kale. Once wilted (only takes seconds), you’re done! Taste it. Needs salt? Add another pinch.
  4. Now ladle the soup into bowls and top with shredded cheddar cheese, and a little parsley if you want!
  5. Get slurping, or else.
  6. Serves probably six.

Smokey Chili Mac Soup / Bev Cooks

Mental slurping is allowed and encouraged.







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18 Responses to Smokey Chili Mac Soup

  1. Amy|The Cook Report September 29, 2016 at 8:36 am #
    Oh this looks so good! I'm so excited to get on with slurping :)
  2. McKenzi September 29, 2016 at 11:55 am #
    I adore how simple your recipes are!
  3. Jenna September 29, 2016 at 6:22 pm #
    I still can't believe Aaron doesn't like cheese?! How does this Union survive???
  4. Jennifer October 9, 2016 at 12:23 pm #
    This is amaze balls. Made it today for the game and it's fantastic!
    • Bev Weidner October 10, 2016 at 7:22 pm #
      Soooo happy to hear!!
      • Kelly B. October 20, 2016 at 10:11 pm #
        Made this tonight! So simple and extremely tasty! Definitely going into my regular winter dinner rotation.
  5. Kara October 23, 2016 at 12:35 pm #
    Second time making this. Looove! Perfect for game day!
  6. Margaret McInerny November 1, 2016 at 7:28 pm #
    Great flavor and I recommend eating the whole batch or the macaroni gets waaayyyy mushy. I cooked as recommended -- but as the soup sat on the stove (no heat on it) the macaroni was so soft as we went back for seconds. I might cook macaroni separately next time and add before serving.
  7. Marina October 27, 2020 at 7:47 pm #
    Oh my god this was SO goodd!! I didnt have fire roasted tomatoes but literally had a jar of salsa. I used that instead and holy cow delicious!
  8. Schnee April 23, 2021 at 11:30 pm #
    My husband and I make this often! It’s so delicious and easy to make.
  9. Schnee February 11, 2022 at 8:28 pm #
    Found this recipe a few years ago and continue to make it over and over again. So easy and delicious!!


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