One of my all-time favorite comfort food meals growing up was the beef goulash they served in my school cafeteria alongside a slice of buttered white bread and a carton of milk. Little did I know that it wasn't really goulash, but an Americanized version, invented to stretch a small amount of beef into enough food for a not-so-small family. This is one of those very simple dishes that does not taste simple--perfect for your weeknight dinner rotation.

Chef John
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Ingredients

12
Original recipe yields 12 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and ground beef. Cook, breaking the meat into small pieces, until browned, about 5 minutes. Cook and stir until liquid is evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes more. Add garlic, salt, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, Italian seasoning, and bay leaves.

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  • Cook and stir until flavors come together, about 3 minutes. Pour in chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and marinara sauce. Rinse out the jar with 1 cup water and pour into the pot. Add soy sauce, stir, and bring soup to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer to let flavors intensify, about 30 minutes.

  • Increase heat to medium-high and bring soup to a simmer. Add macaroni; simmer, stirring occasionally, until just barely tender, about 12 minutes. Check for doneness after 10 minutes.

  • Remove goulash from heat. Discard bay leaves; stir in parsley and Cheddar cheese. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Taste and season as desired.

Chef's Notes:

Make your own Italian herb mix with any desired blend of oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, and basil.

Feel free to swap water for chicken broth.

You can also add beans to turn this into an excellent pasta fazool.

Nutrition Facts

336 calories; 17.3 g total fat; 58 mg cholesterol; 1169 mg sodium. 25.1 g carbohydrates; 18.9 g protein; Full Nutrition

Reviews (85)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
09/04/2019
I was skeptical, but Chef John has never steered me wrong. So glad I tried it as I was pleasantly surprised. It tastes fancier than it sounds, and my family loved it. Next time would use less salt and more cayenne. This will be in regular rotation. Read More
(17)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 3 stars
02/25/2020
This tasted great but came out far too liquid. I didn't even add the extra cup of water. In the future i will cut the chicken broth in half. Read More
119 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 106
  • 4 star values: 7
  • 3 star values: 5
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 1
Rating: 5 stars
09/04/2019
I was skeptical, but Chef John has never steered me wrong. So glad I tried it as I was pleasantly surprised. It tastes fancier than it sounds, and my family loved it. Next time would use less salt and more cayenne. This will be in regular rotation. Read More
(17)
Rating: 5 stars
09/04/2019
I was skeptical, but Chef John has never steered me wrong. So glad I tried it as I was pleasantly surprised. It tastes fancier than it sounds, and my family loved it. Next time would use less salt and more cayenne. This will be in regular rotation. Read More
(17)
Rating: 5 stars
09/08/2019
This recipe was fantastic! My kids ate it up. Chef John does not disappoint! My one change is that I drained the tomatoes to keep it from being too soupy. Other than that, you need to make this recipe!! Read More
(7)
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Rating: 5 stars
10/01/2019
Was always looking for a recipe such as this that hearkens back to grade school cafeteria beefaroni, and with Chef John at the helm, I had high hopes. This didn't disappoint! There is a certain nuanced flavor to this dish, that was even more pronounced on day two. Kids and adults LOVED this. Made the recipe as is, perhaps with a touch less soy sauce. I think the only change I would make for the future would be to use the entire box of elbows instead of two cups, which might enhance the meat to pasta ratio. This will likely become part of monthly dinner rotation. Read More
(5)
Rating: 5 stars
11/09/2019
My wife is Filipina and she kept saying while watching the video "needs soy sauce, needs soy sauce" so thanks for making the secret ingredient at the end "soy sauce" Read More
(4)
Rating: 5 stars
09/18/2019
It was fantastic! Way better than my family's recipe. Way more complex flavors and a big crowd pleaser! Trust the ingredients and the process and you won't be disappointed. I had to switch out the chicken broth for Better Than Boullion Beef, but it really tasted fantastic. Got lots of compliments! Will add this to my repertoire of easy weeknight cooks. Read More
(3)
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Rating: 5 stars
01/22/2020
Recipe was fantastic. I added a diced green bell pepper and 1 Tbsp tomato paste after the onion and burger cooked down and simmered a couple of minutes before resuming the rest of the recipe. Great recipe! Read More
(3)
Rating: 5 stars
11/03/2019
Great recipe whole family loved it. Took quite a bit longer to cook down the liquid when it was just the ground beef and onions. Read More
(2)
Rating: 5 stars
02/13/2020
Don’t confuse this dish with recipes for ‘chili Mac.’ The flavor profile of Chef John’s version is excellent. I made it exactly as directed, shared the outcome with friends, all of whom asked for the recipe. Very easy to make. Read More
(2)
Rating: 5 stars
01/05/2020
We really enjoyed this recipe! It's versatile and you can easily add what you like to it. I did not find it to be too watery. I added a green bell pepper and 3 ribs of celery (both chopped) with the onion. Right before I turned off the heat I added 2 cans cannellini beans. This is definitely going in the regular rotation. Read More
(2)
Rating: 3 stars
02/25/2020
This tasted great but came out far too liquid. I didn't even add the extra cup of water. In the future i will cut the chicken broth in half. Read More