Editor’s note: This reader recipe is an online addition to our November 2020 cover story, “Taste and see.”

Shirley’s chunky hamburger soup

By Judelle Murphy

Shirley’s chunky hamburger soup is a favorite of the guests we serve at our Wednesday community soup lunch ministry.

Shirley E. was a favorite too. She and her family were longtime members of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Beloit, Wis. When Shirley retired from teaching elementary school for the School District of Beloit, she joined our other great volunteers donating food and ideas for our soup lunches.

St Paul’s Wednesday community soup lunch ministry started in 2008 as a way to reach out to our neighborhood and is still an active and vital outreach program of the church today. We provide friendly fellowship and a free hot meal for members of our community. It is a time for nourishing the bodies, minds and souls of those who choose to come.

Shirley was an active volunteer for this program. She lovingly and cheerfully provided food and conversation to our guests. During the time she volunteered at soup lunch, she was diagnosed with cancer. She continued to work at soup lunch even while she was receiving treatments. Often, she would have to leave early for her chemo. She would jokingly announce that she was heading to the hospital and did anyone need a ride? Lo and behold, one of our guests was also being treated for cancer and often the two of them (with Shirley taking the lead) would head off together to receive their treatments.

Shirley passed away in 2009, leaving behind many who had grown to love her through St Paul’s soup lunch program. Every time we serve her recipe for chunky hamburger soup—even now, as soup to go during this time of COVID-19—we remember Shirley and the joy she brought to everyone at soup lunch. Enjoy!


2 pounds hamburger
2 onions, chopped
1 large can crushed tomatoes
4 carrots, sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons parsley flakes
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon thyme
8 beef bouillon cubes
1 1/2 cups bowtie pasta
8 cups water


  1. Brown the meat; add onions and garlic.
  2. Drain the fat.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and cook 45 minutes. (Don’t overcook.)
  4. Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. Yields six to eight servings.

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