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Cyndi Allison

Vegetable Beef Soup Recipe

vegetable beef soup
Vegetable Beef Soup

Homemade vegetable soup just can’t be beat on a cold winter evening.

Heck. It’s hard to top homemade soup any time of the year.

When I hear someone say that he or she doesn’t like soup, then I’m pretty sure that person has only tried soup from a can. I eat canned soup, but it’s sure not as tasty as scratch soup. Now, it is easier to open a can. That’s true. But, it’s not terribly hard to make home cooked soup. It just takes a little time.

Vegetable Beef Soup Ingredients

I won’t give exact amounts here. Soup making is not a science. It’s an art. Still, you need to have a few items on hand to make a batch.

  • Stew beef
  • A little vegetable oil (if searing the meat)
  • Potatoes
  • Onion
  • Canned tomatoes (petite diced preferred)
  • Favorite vegetables (canned or frozen)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Favorite seasonings (parsley is always a good one)

First Cook the Stew Beef

Start off with the meat if you’re using meat. You can leave that out if you’re vegetarian or want low fat soup. You’ll need a pack of stew beef. Those are the little chunks of meat packaged at the grocery. An alternative is to use leftover roast beef if you’ve had roast during the week.

There are several ways to prepare the meat. The key is to cook it low and slow so that it is very tender. Tough meat in soup is not very tasty.

Here are three ways to prep the beef for the soup:

1. Put a thin layer of oil in a frying pan. Sear the meat. In other words, brown it. That seals in flavor. Then put the meat in a pot of water and cook for an hour or more. I like to have the meat fork tender.

2. Roll the beef chunks in seasoned flour. Just add salt, pepper and any seasonings to some flour and roll the meat in the flour mix or put the flour mix in a bag and shake the meat. Again, you want to brown the meat. When it’s browned, put it in a sauce pan with water and simmer until tender.

3. The most basic way to cook the beef is to just put it right in a pan of water and cook until tender. If I’m really busy, that’s what I do.

Once the beef is tender, pour off the cooking water but save 2 to 4 cups of the meat cooking water. Get the stock water under the fat at the top. You can use all the meat water as a base, but you really won’t miss that fat.

Potatoes and Onions Come Next

Get a second sauce pan. Cut up potatoes and an onion. Cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until the potatoes and onion are tender. Don’t overcook, since the potatoes and onions cook a bit more once the soup is put together.

If you have kids who say, “Oh yuck onions,” then don’t cut up the onion. Peel off the skin and put that in whole. You can fish out the onion before making the soup. You get the flavor but don’t have bites of onion in the vegetable beef soup.

Drain the water off the potatoes and onion once they’re done and get ready to assemble the soup.

The Soup Base is Ready

At this point you have tender beef, some stock, and potatoes and onion (or onion flavor).

The beef, stock and potatoes go into a pot. You can use either of the dirty cooking pots you’ve been using. The beef pot often has a film around the edge which doesn’t look too pretty. I’m more likely to use the potato pot, but either one is fine. If you love to wash dishes, you can just get out yet another pot.

Have the beef, stock, and potatoes in one pot - the final soup pot. Add a can of diced tomatoes. Pour in some extra water. The amount of water can vary. Don’t put in too much, or you won’t have room to add the vegetables.

That’s the base. You could eat the soup, but it’s much better when you add vegetables to the pot.

Doctoring Up the Soup

You want the base on low heat at this point.

Pick some cans of favorite vegetables or packs of frozen favorites. If you’re using canned, drain off the packing water. That usually has a lot of salt. The packing water also tends to be off in color when adding various vegetables together in one pot.

Some people go with a Veg-All can mix of veggies. I prefer not to do that. They cut all the vegetables in little squares. OK. Maybe not the peas. But, you get the idea. The homemade soup looks like canned soup instead of homemade when you throw in Veg-All.

One tip I’d note here is that you can save all those little portions of vegetables from meals in small freezer containers or zip lock bags. Then you don’t have to open fresh cans or get out frozen packs for the soup. You just use your various leftovers. This means a very low cost meal which is always great.

The key, at this point, is to have pre-cooked vegetables or quick cook vegetables. Let’s say you want carrots. You either need to back up and cook those with the hard vegetables (potatoes and onions), or you need carrots already cooked. This stage is heating and not really cooking.

Some of our favorite canned or frozen vegetables to add are:

  • Corn
  • Green beans (not French cut – too mushy)
  • Peas
  • Limas

Any vegetable you like or have on hand is just fine. Just be sure the ones you pick are at the heat-and-eat stage when you load up the soup stock with the extras.

As you pour the vegetables in the soup pot, check the water level. You may have to add water depending on how many vegetables you add. You know what soup should look like. Let your eye be your guide.

Once the pot is full of your favorite vegetable picks, let the soup simmer on low until everything is hot. I usually let it sit on the stove for a half hour or more. The soup is cooked, but the flavors blend with the low heat resting time.

Seasoning Soup

Different folks like different flavors when it comes to seasonings. With a basic vegetable beef soup, I tend to be conservative on the seasoning. Everyone can add favorite seasonings after the soup is served up in bowls.

I generally add a little table or sea salt but not a lot. For a southern chick, I’m not a big salt eater.

I also put in some fresh ground pepper. I go easy on that too. I adore pepper, but if I make the soup too spicy, some family members won’t eat it. I pepper it up in my own bowl.

Generally I sprinkle in a bit of parsley – fresh or flakes. Parsley is mild and adds a little color.

Another season I add is a bay leaf. Yum. That gives a touch of subtle flavor. I do take the bay leaf out before serving. Bay leaves are not meant to be consumed. Also, one of the relatives told my sister I somehow got a leaf in something I cooked. He’d never heard of bay leaves and must have thought I cooked outside or that my house is REALLY dirty. Anyway, I fish out the bay leaf now before calling the pot "ready."

On all these seasonings, I’m talking about perhaps a teaspoon. If it’s a really big pot of soup, then I might be leaning toward 2 teaspoons. It’s far better to be a little under-seasoned and let everyone add than to overdo it and then have folks sitting around hungry, because they can’t handle the soup. I still remember how the soup tasted on a Scout trip when someone went wild with the hot sauce. Ugh. That was NOT good soup.

Soup’s Done

Those are the basics for making homemade vegetable beef soup. You really can tailor this soup recipe to suit your fancy and to the amounts that work for your family. I generally make a big pot, and then we can have soup several times from one pot. It warms up fine in the microwave. I don’t suggest freezing. The potatoes in particular do not hold up well, and the thawed soup just tastes kind of stale and mushy.