My kind of ready meal is one I cook the night before and have ready to warm up as soon as we get home. Boiling beef, or runner beef, is one of the cheapest cuts and, cooked slowly with a few choice vegetables, it produces a large flank of tender beef and a light flavoursome broth.

We all love the “brodo” served with small pastina and lashings of grated parmesan, sometimes with a fresh egg poached in it as well. Add the melt-in-the-mouth pieces of meat to the soup and sweet chunks of carrot.

Alternatively, try nestling slices of meat on a huge mound of buttery mash and a lip-smacking dressing of salsa verde.

Boiled beef and carrots have never tasted so good.

Boiled beef and carrots

Makes you fat and it keeps you well

Don’t live like vegetarians

On food they give to parrots

Blow out your kite from morn’

till night

On boiled beef and carrots

(Harry Champion – 1909)




500g boiling beef on the bone

2-2½ litres cold water

1 small onion

2-3 sticks celery

2 carrots

1 small leek

3 ripe tomatoes (or half a 450g tin)

Bunch flat-leaf parsley

Sea salt and black pepper

3-4 handfuls pastina or

broken pasta

Grated Parmigiano

Free range eggs (optional)


Put the beef into a medium-sized pot and cover with two litres of cold water.

Bring to a slow simmer and allow to simmer for 10 minutes using a tea strainer to remove any scum that floats to the surface.

Wash all the vegetables, cutting them into large pieces, leaving the onion whole.

Once the stock looks clear, add all the prepped vegetables and a teaspoon of sea salt.

Cover with a lid half-balanced on the pot and leave

to simmer slowly for 1½-2 hours, until the meat is tender.

Add some more water if the soup evaporates too much.

Check the broth for seasoning.

You can set the broth aside and, once cooled, refrigerate for 2-3 days.

When ready to cook, spoon away any fat that has solidified

on top of the broth.

In a medium-sized pot, boil the pasta until al dente.

Drain and add the hot broth strained through a sieve.

Divide the beef into pieces, removing any fat.

Serve the soup with a piece of beef, half a carrot and a good grating of Parmigiano and black pepper.

If you fancy, poach an egg in the soup and eat it with the soft yolk oozing out.