It’s a cold, miserable day. You are exhausted from work, and the traffic is terrible as you drive home through the drizzling rain. The wind cuts right to the bone when you open the door, taking your breath away. Goodness. It’s so cold. And wet. And miserable. You struggle with your groceries, trying in vain to shield yourself from the sheets of rain that seem to seek you out from every angle. You fumble with the key at the door. Goodness. If you had soap and a washcloth, you could just take a shower. A bag breaks. Oh goodness– was that the eggs? Grrrr!
And then . . .
You step inside your front door. The cold and frustration melt away, and you are enveloped in the most inviting, warming smell– an aroma that seems to whisper of warmth and coziness and comfort. Yes. It’s your homemade vegetable soup that you’ve had simmering all day– a mouthwatering mixture of vibrant vegetables and succulent, fall-apart tender beef. You slice a loaf of crusty bread and ladle up steaming bowls, and your family members, noses still running from the cold day, dig in eagerly. Your kids ask for seconds. Excuse me . . . did you hear that? The kids are asking for seconds of vegetables. Hold on, because I think the world just stopped spinning.
My Mom is a soup making master. When I was growing up, she made a different kind of homemade soup almost every week, for us to taste, and vegetable beef was one of her specialties. She grew an enormous garden and constantly filled her soups with the beautiful colors of fresh vegetables, ripe from the summer sun. My Mom still grows a huge garden. And she still heads out back to her garden to pick a ripe, juicy tomato for her sandwich, or a snip of fresh basil for her pasta salad. And she still makes absolutely incredible soup.
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Comforting Vegetable Beef Soup
(adapted from my Mom’s original recipe)
1 15 oz. can seasoned diced tomatoes
3 cups water
2 potatoes, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 onion, finely diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 cups cabbage, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (these will be added at the end)
2 cups cooked and diced beef (leftover roast beef, steak, or even chuck roast work well)
1-2 tbsp. beef bouillon, depending on taste preference (add 1, and the other, at the end, if you feel it isn’t enough)
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp. dried basil)
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2-1 tsp. salt, depending on taste
3 bay leaves (simmer with soup but remove before serving)
Mix everything but the frozen mixed vegetables, together, in a large Dutch Oven or Crock Pot. Cover and simmer 4 hours, or until beef is fall apart tender. Remove from heat and mix in frozen vegetables. Allow to sit 5 minutes before serving to thaw the vegetables and cool the soup to a comfortable eating temperature.
Now, in pictures! 🙂
To begin with, the beauty of this recipe is that you throw everything together in a crock pot or Dutch oven, and then walk away and come back, hours later, to something totally glorious. You can also make a big batch and freeze half, for another day. Yessssss . . . two great meals for the price of one. Sign me up.
To begin with, get yourself a nice big crock pot or Dutch oven. Get yourself a small (15 oz) can of seasoned diced tomatoes. I usually grab the kind with garlic and basil, but any kind of seasoned diced tomatoes will work. Of course, regular diced ones will work, but you may have to up your seasonings, a bit, to compensate. Soup is all about tasting and tweaking it to your own tastes. So pour in those tomatoes, and let’s get started! 🙂
Go ahead and chop your vegetables and add them and the beef broth to your tomatoes. Sometimes I add in other vegetables, if I have them– sweet potatoes or butternut squash are really tasty in there. However, they tend to be softer than these carrots and potatoes, so if you want to add softer vegetables, put them in after the harder vegetables have simmered for an hour or so, so they don’t end up mushy.
Add in your meat and seasonings. What in the WORLD is that???? That looks like you put a couple of big ice cubes in there!
So glad you asked. When I make roast beef, or steak, I cube any leftovers and freeze them. Steak, to me, tastes very tough after it is reheated, but it makes amazing vegetable beef soup when it is simmered down to fork tenderness. Just get yourself a freezer safe bag and save the leftover beef that you can’t “sell” at suppertime, and when you get a sandwich bag’s worth, it’s time for soup 🙂 The light green ice cube is cabbage. When I make soup, I use 1/3 of the cabbage for a recipe, and then I blanch and freeze the rest of the cabbage in 2 separate bags for the next 2 times I make soup. That way, no cabbage is wasted, and I can do my prep work all at once, ahead of time, for the next time I need a quick and easy supper.
The leaf you see is a bay leaf. They add an awesome flavor to vegetable soup, but make sure you remove them before serving.
So easy. Just throw everything in there, cover it, and simmer on low for about 4 hours. Don’t put the frozen vegetables in, yet. Those basically just need to be defrosted– and if you put them in at the beginning, they will be mush by the time the meat and vegetables are tender. After several hours of simmering, taste your soup and see what you think. Sometimes I add a little more seasoning if I feel it needs it. Since we all have vegetables that are different sizes, each pot of soup will be a little different. It’s your kitchen, and you’re the boss– so your tastes are the ones that matter. Just make it how you like it– add a little more or less pepper or salt, if you want. Add a little beef bouillon. Or just leave it just the way it is. It will be delicious however you want to make it.
During the 4 hours your soup is simmering, an amazing thing happens. Your flavors meld, your vegetables become delicious and tender, and your meat gets so tender that it will literally melt in your mouth. This is why you shouldn’t adjust the spices, too much, at the beginning– your soup will change flavor, as it simmers, and you may end up adding too much salt if you season completely, at the beginning. You know that old saying about too many cooks salting/spoiling the broth . . .
When you’re ready to serve the soup, dump in your frozen vegetables. This part is neat– the heat from the soup warms the vegetables just enough that they are crisp and delicious (and still colorful), and it cools the soup enough that you don’t melt your face off when you take a bite. It makes the entire dish a delicious, just-right temperature.
Ladle up bowls. Inhale the aroma. It smells delicious! And you did this– you put a warm supper on the table and fed your family, even on the busiest of days. Grab a crusty loaf of bread or a green salad, and dinner is served.
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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