Update: I first wrote this post about Venus De Milo Soup in 2019. I was so sad to read about the closing of this iconic venue in 2020, another casualty of the COVID pandemic. Although their banquet facility has ceased operations, their famous soup lives on as part of a take-out only foods venture. I hope you will enjoy my gluten free makeover of this old New England recipe!
Founded in 1959, the Venus de Milo was an iconic restaurant and banquet facility located in Swansea, Massachusetts. For decades, it was a venue for countless weddings, Christmas parties and other celebrations. My prom was there, almost 50 years ago! ????
Venus de Milo Soup is a beloved New England tradition, and its popularity has endured over the decades. Copycat recipes abound for this easy to prepare soup. My mother had one in her recipe box, and today it is all over the internet.
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Although it is made with common pantry ingredients, a couple of challenges came up as I started with the original recipe. Two of the ingredients contained gluten, and I needed to find substitutions.
First, a packet of Lipton Onion Soup Mix. Back in the day, this was a go-to ingredient for so many recipes! When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I could not find a gluten free replacement, so I made my own mix. Now, just a few years later how things have changed! A quick web search turns up more than a few alternatives. Go ahead and add one to your shopping list or do what I did. Stir together this easy blend that contains no flour or added salt!
Next, the original soup was made with Orzo pasta. I wanted a gluten free soup pasta that looked like orzo, but again, when I first posted this recipe I could not find a gluten free substitute. Now, just a few years later I was able to order this gluten free orzo from Delallo made from corn and rice flour. I also spotted this gluten free orzo from Jovial, made with cassava flour. Or you can try my original choice for this recipe, RightRice. It was brand new on the shelves in 2019 and has since become a part of my gluten free pantry.
Once I had gathered my ingredients, this soup came together in about 45 minutes. Like any soup, it is better and thicker the next day. We had several meals from this pot of soup, and it brought back so many great memories!
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 14.5 oz. canned tomatoes (whole, diced, crushed, sauce… use what you have)
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 16 oz. bag frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn and green beans)
- 12 oz. beef stock
- 2 cups beef or chicken broth (or use water)
- 1 cup (uncooked) gluten free orzo pasta
- 1 ladle of reserved pasta water
Stir together the first 7 ingredients for the onion soup mix replacement (or use a purchased mix).
In a 4 qt. soup pot or Dutch oven, brown the meat in 1 tbsp. olive oil, breaking it up with a spatula. Season with salt and pepper. Continue until the meat is completely browned, then stir in the onion soup mixture.
Add the celery, tomatoes and the mixed vegetables (it’s ok to throw them in frozen).
Next add the stock and all of the broth. This recipe is very forgiving. You can use all broth, or all water if you wish for a total of 3-1/2 cups liquid. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
Next cook the pasta in lightly salted water. I do not recommend adding the dry pasta directly into the soup. Here’s why.
Some gluten free pastas, especially those made with corn flour will release a huge amount of starch into the water when cooked, and it can be a gummy mess. Don’t worry though, it’s delicious! Just cook the pasta separately and rinse it under warm water before adding to the soup.
If the soup needs thickening, you can reserve a bit of that starchy water and add it to the pot. Stir it up and do a final taste, adding more salt or pepper as needed.
Let it sit for 2 hours before mealtime (soup will thicken), then just warm it up before serving.
This hearty soup is a meal in itself. Perfect for cold winter nights, serve with grated cheese and a few slices of crusty bread.
Notes: ♪♫ We are a low sodium household. Since soups are notorious for high levels of salt, I always start my recipes with ingredients that have no added salt. For this gluten free adaptation of Venus de Milo soup, I used unsalted broth, tomatoes, and bouillon. It was easy to add a little sea salt in at the end to bring out the flavor.
Original post 3/04/2019 Updated 2/16/2022
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