American Chop Suey

This is a lovely, feel-good, easy to make, crowd pleaser of a meal.  American chop suey is basically pasta,

normally elbows, cooked in a thick tomato based sauce with peppers, onions and beef.  I love to substitute the elbows with cavatappi, which is more like a spiral tube pasta with ridges on the sides.  The shape and texture work so well, and really stand out with dishes like American chop suey.  Other that that, my version is about as classic as you can get.  Why change a classic?  But what makes mine ‘special’?  I’ve found that cooking the sauce with tomato soup instead of stewed or diced tomatoes lends a better, heartier flavor.  Otherwise the difference is in the details.  Make sure to brown the beef until almost crisp.  Slightly reduce the sauce until its perfect.  Make sure the pasta is in fact al dente.

This recipe is truly a trip into classic American cuisine.  It’s wonderful.  We, as professional chefs, absolutely love it.  We love anything that’s so easy, fast to make and yet pleases so many people.  We, like the rest of the country, love American chop suey.

American Chop Suey

Prep time:  5 minutes
Cook time:  15 minutes
Yield:  4-5 portions


2 lb Cavatappi (or elbow macaroni)
2 lb ground chuck (85%)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small green pepper, small dice
1 small red pepper, small dice
1 small yellow onion, small dice
1 bunch green onion, thin cut
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups prepared tomato soup (campbells is best)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp italian seasoning
1 tbsp chili powder
kosher salt
black pepper


Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente.  Drain well.  In a large heavy bottom saute pan, begin browning the ground beef in the oil.  Take the time to thoroughly brown, breaking it up as it cooks.  Carefully drain the excess fat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the onion and peppers and continue to sauce until the vegetables become tender and translucent.  Turn the heat down to medium and add the tomato paste and dry spices.  Mix well.  Add the tomato soup mix well.  Let thicken, which will happen quickly, and reseason with salt and pepper.  Add the cooked cavatappi, green onions and parmesan cheese.  Serve piping hot.


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