This is my mom’s beef vegetable soup recipe, and it’s The Best. It’s cozy and hearty, with tender beef and tons of vegetables. And you know how soups can be kind of same-y? I love all the different textures here, and that you can really taste the sweetness of the carrots and corn in the savory broth. I love making soup on a weekend so Jay and I can eat the leftovers for lunch the next week (this is one of those the-leftovers-are-even-better meals), but I also make it during the week since I can get it started in peace when my kids are napping and let it gently simmer until dinnertime. It’s also great if you only cook it long enough for the veggies to be tender!
You start by browning bite-sized pieces of beef. The meat browns better if you don’t crowd the pot, so I suggest doing it in two batches. The color on the bottom of the pot equals lots of flavor in the broth! I add onions and garlic with the second batch of meat, and as they start to release moisture you can scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. You end up with lovely, caramelizing onions, too!
Broth next! I love, love, love using Better Than Bouillon for delicious soup – this recipe uses the beef base, and plenty of dried herbs for all kinds of good savory flavor. Now stir in chopped celery, carrots, and potatoes – just add them to the simmering broth as you get them cut up. Then add frozen peas, corn, and green beans (or whatever veggies you like). I measured the veggies to give a suggested amount in the recipe, but I usually just eyeball it and then stir to see how the ratio looks. Cover the pot and keep the soup at a simmer until the potatoes and carrots are tender, and it’s ready to serve!
Most of the cooking time for beef vegetable soup is unattended, so it’s also easy to make on a night you’re hosting people! It produces almost no dishes (you can wash your cutting board and knife before anyone arrives – and concentrate on vacuuming dog-hair tumbleweeds and hiding clutter in the guest room…hmm, just me?) and doesn’t require last-minute attention so you can enjoy your friends. Serve it up with some crusty bread…or biscuits…or pumpkin bread…or a grilled cheese sandwich! With a salted caramel pretzel sundae for dessert? #pleasesayyes #andpleaseinvitemePrint
- 1 Tablespoon oil, for browning
- 1 lb stew beef, cut into small cubes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 to 6 cups beef broth (or 5 cups water + 5 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon beef base, or more of each in that ratio, depending how broth-y you want the soup)
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large potato, scrubbed (peel it if you want!) and diced
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 4 stalks celery, sliced
- 1 cup each frozen corn and frozen peas (if I’m also using green beans, I do about 3/4 cup each – but use whatever you like!)
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Pat meat cubes dry with a paper towel, and brown in two batches. Try to resist the urge to stir too much – the meat will brown better. I usually let it go for a minute and half or so, then stir to brown the other side of the cubes a bit. Remove the first batch to a bowl, then repeat with the rest of the meat (add a little more oil if the pot seems dry). When the second batch is almost browned, add the onions and garlic and let them cook for a few minutes, stirring and scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Note: if the bottom of the pot is getting too dark, or the onions and garlic are getting brown too fast, you can add a tablespoon or two of water at any point to slow things down and help you scrape up the browned bits during the cooking process.
- Add the water and beef base (or broth) and seasonings, and bring the broth to a simmer. Add the potatoes, carrots, and celery as you get them cut up.
- Stir in the frozen vegetables and simmer until the potatoes and carrots are tender, 20-40 minutes (or soup can continue to cook on low until you’re ready to serve). Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
This recipe is from my mom, Barb Ingram. She taught me the simple joy of sitting down to dinner as a family – and many of my favorite recipes are hers!
I don’t typically freeze this soup, because potatoes don’t tend to freeze well. If you’d like to freeze it, I suggest skipping the potato, or adding a leftover baked potato to the portion you’re serving right away.
This recipe was originally published on November 11, 2014 and was updated with new photos, improved recipe instructions, and fresh commentary!1