A few weekends ago we had a dreary, rainy, overcast Sunday. It really felt like Fall was on the way. Living in the South, though, I should know better. Fall is a real tease. She shows up for a day, maybe two, then Summer takes over again and the temperatures shoot back into the 90’s. Fall and summer compete for our attention for weeks, sometimes months, before Fall ultimately wins out and summer fades away. Those rare Fall-is-coming days always get me thinking about all the delicious, comforting soups and stews that come with that time of year.
One of our favorites is a good, old-fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup. It’s a dish that will satisfy the strongest need for comfort food. With the added bonus of the wonderful smells that fill your home while the soup simmers away on the stove.
I’ve tried my best to write up an actual recipe of my vegetable beef soup. However, it’s usually a little of this and a little of that. A way to use up some vegetable leftovers…just whatever you have on hand. So, here’s my “un-recipe” for vegetable beef soup. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
1 lb. beef (stew beef, oxtails, short ribs)
2 tblsp. cooking oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
4 cups potatoes in bite-size pieces
1 cup carrot slices
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with their juice
1 14.5 oz. can cut green beans with their juice
1 quart beef broth or stock
1 tsp. mustard seed
1 tsp. celery seed
1 tblsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
Cut the beef into bite-sized pieces. I was using short ribs this time so I removed the meat from the bones and cut it into pieces. I also put the bones in to brown with the meat for a little extra flavor. If you do the same, remember to remove the bones before serving. If you use oxtails, leave them whole and remove the meat from the bones before serving. Heat the oil in a very large dutch oven. Add the beef and cook until browned.
Chop a large onion (or 2 or 3 small onions) into about 1/2 inch pieces. Add the onion to the pot. I just happened to have half a red onion left over in the fridge, so I used that with some regular yellow onion. See? Just use what you have on hand!
Chop the celery and toss it in, too.
Next up…potatoes! I like lots of potatoes in my veggie-beef soup. The ones in the photo are called “Dutch Yellow” in our grocery store. They’re very small. About 2-3 inches long at the most. The tiny ones I just cut in half and the larger ones in quarters. I don’t even bother to peel them. Just make them bite-size and throw them into the pot.
Add the rest of the vegetables. I had some carrot slices on hand, so I used those. I also added a can of cut green beans, with their juice (it adds a lot of flavor). Use whatever your family likes. If you like peas, add them! If you want some turnip roots in your soup, then add those. The one thing I always include is tomatoes. At least one can of diced tomatoes with their juice.
Add the quart of beef broth and enough water to cover all the vegetables and make it, well…soupy.
And last, but not least, the seasonings. I know most of you are going to say, “Huh?” when I say that I add mustard seed and celery seed to my soup. I don’t remember why I started doing that but it sure is good. Just gives a little extra something in the background. Sometimes I’ll add thyme or a bay leaf. Whatever you like, add that! Also, go ahead and add the salt and pepper. Remember this is a big pot of soup so it’s going to need a good amount of salt.
Stir everything togehter well. Bring it all to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 1 hour or longer.
So good with some garlic bread or, my favorite, cheese toast on pumpernickel. Or just plain old saltine crackers. Even better after sitting overnight in the refrigerator!
Other vegetable soup recipes you might enjoy from around the internet:
- Roasted Tomato Soup on lifescript.com
- Old Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup from Southern Food on About.com
- Paula Deen’s Lady & Sons Beef Vegetable Soup