Beef and Oat Soup

• 1 lb. lean ground beef
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
• 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped/shredded
• ½-1lb Spinach, shredded
• 1 large carrot, shredded
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or ground
• 1 cup oats
• 4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
• 1 cup water
• ¼ teaspoon salt
1. Bring 3-4 cups water to boil. Place oats in the boiling water. Reduce heat, let simmer 30 minutes or more. (Refer to exact cooking direction on oats package).
2. Sprinkle beef with 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the beef and cook, stirring often, until browned on all sides, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil, onion to the pot and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add carrot and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Add thyme and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Add oats, broth, water, salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; about 15 minutes. Return the beef and any accumulated juice to the pot and heat through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in vinegar to taste.