Start to Finish: 90 minutes
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Beef vegetable soup is a classic comfort food that people appreciate for its heartiness and rich flavors. The seasonings and broth are responsible for most of the familiar tastes diners associate with the dish. The soup is quite versatile for a classic recipe, because it can accommodate a variety of vegetable ingredients without losing its familiar savor. Beef vegetable soup is also a reliable make-ahead dish that does not decline in quality if you freeze it for future use.
- 4 to 6 red-skinned potatoes
- 3 carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 large yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 pounds lean stewing beef
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 6 cups beef stock or broth
- 6 cups water
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons butter, optional
Rinse and chop potatoes, carrots, celery and onion. Cut the vegetables into pieces that are roughly the same size -- about 1/2 inch wide -- so that they cook evenly. Set the vegetables aside.
Place a stockpot or Dutch oven on a burner set to medium heat. Add olive oil to the pot.
Blot the cubes of stewing beef with paper towels to remove surface moisture, which can prevent meat from browning.
Add the beef to the pot. Stir it occasionally so that the cubes brown on all sides, which should take approximately 5 minutes.
Add the chopped vegetables to the pot, stirring the contents periodically so the vegetables cook evenly. Cook the ingredients until the vegetables start to become tender and the onions start to become translucent, approximately 3 to 5 minutes.
Add flour, salt and pepper. Toss the ingredients gently in the flour and seasonings with your spoon to coat the pieces as evenly as possible.
Add broth and water. Stir the ingredients, gently scraping the bottom of the pan with the spoon to free any flour that has stuck to the bottom.
Add garlic, tomato paste, tomatoes, thyme, parsley and bay leaf to the soup. Increase the heat to bring the soup to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot with a lid. Cook the soup until the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Stir butter into the soup to enrich the flavor, if desired. Remove the pot from the heat. Discard the bay leaf.
Include other vegetables based on your preferences. Peas, green beans, lima beans, chopped cabbage, corn, peppers, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, squash, turnips and leeks work well in beef vegetable soup. Add about 1 cup of any vegetable, depending on your taste.
Incorporate tender, porous vegetables such as squash later in the cooking process to prevent them from becoming too soft and falling apart.
Fresh and frozen veggies are both suitable for soup.
Flavor beef vegetable soup with 1 to 2 cups of red wine or beer, if desired.
Add an extra teaspoon of flour and a can of tomato sauce to make the soup more hearty. Include the extra flour when you initially add flour to the meat and veggies. Pour in the tomato sauce when you add the other tomato-based ingredients.
It is fine to cook the soup for a longer time, which concentrates its flavors but reduces the volume of soup.
Serve beef vegetable soup in a large dinner bowl or soup bowl with warm, crusty bread on the side.
Freeze the soup in plastic freezer bags or rigid plastic food storage containers for up to 4 to 6 months.
For the best results, omit the onion, garlic and herbs from soup you plan to freeze. Freezing alters the flavors of those ingredients, which may negatively affect the soup. Sauté the omitted ingredients in 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil prior to reheating the frozen soup. Add them to the soup when you start to reheat it. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to blend the flavors.
Potatoes tend to fall apart after freezing and reheating. Reserve the potatoes and add them halfway through the initial cooking process if you plan to freeze the soup. Remove the soup from the heat while the potatoes are still too firm to eat, which will essentially parboil them. Simmer the thawed soup until the potatoes are tender, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
- Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images
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