This old fashioned vegetable beef soup is loaded with tender chunks of beef and slowly simmered to perfection just like your grandma would have done. However, that doesn't mean this recipe is hard. Actually, it is an incredibly easy soup to create layers of flavor using simple ingredients. So slow down, and ladle up a comforting bowl for you and your loved ones today.
Soups like this were popular with my grandma's generation because they could easily be customized as "everyone in the pool" type soups, that allowed the cook to use whatever variety of vegetables may be ripe in their garden, or fresh in the pantry. Feel free to add and subtract your favorite flavors to make this old fashioned soup a staple in your kitchen.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Beef stew meat - I like using a cut up beef chuck roast because it has fat that will add to the soups flavor, while still transforming into wonderfully tender beef during the long simmer. Alternatively, this recipe can also be made with ground beef.
- Cooking oil - Olive oil, canola oil, or your favorite vegetable oil will work.
- Onion - I recommend a yellow onion or sweet onion.
- Garlic cloves - One teaspoon of garlic powder can be substituted.
- All purpose flour - This thickens the broth slightly.
- Tomato paste - Tomato paste sweetens the broth while adding body.
- Beef stock - Beef broth will also work well as a substitution.
- Worcestershire sauce - This can be omitted, or you can use soy sauce instead.
- Canned diced tomatoes including liquid - Since grocery store tomatoes are rarely ripened properly, this is one instance where canned is better than fresh.
- Yukon gold potatoes - Other waxy potatoes, such as red potatoes are an equally good substitute.
- Carrots - Fresh carrots are best, but frozen works well too. Avoid canned carrots. Whole baby carrots also work well.
- Celery ribs - Fresh is best.
- Sweet corn kernels - You can use frozen corn or canned corn.
- Peas - Frozen peas are far better than canned peas.
- Green beans - You can use frozen green beans.
- Bay leaf - One or two bay leaves work well.
- Fresh thyme - Other fresh herbs can be substituted.
It is worth noting, fresh ingredients are almost always best, followed by frozen veggies, while canned veggies should be avoided in most cases for the best texture and flavor.
How to make it
Begin making my old fashioned beef and vegetable soup by first searing the cubes of beef stew meat in a large pot, or Dutch oven, with cooking oil set over medium-high heat. Once the beef is well browned, remove it from the pot and set it aside. You will be sauteing the onion next, so reduce the heat to medium. You can add additional cooking oil if needed.
Once the chopped onion has turned golden brown, add in the garlic and cook for an additional two minutes. At this point, the flour can be sprinkled into the pot along with the tomato paste. Stir this around and cook for a minute or two, being careful not to scorch the flour. This will cook out the raw flour taste and coax more flavor out of the tomato paste.
Next, add a couple of splashes of beef stock to the pot to loosen any burnt on brown bits at the bottom of the pot. Use a wooden spoon to scrap these bits free so they are able to incorporate into the broth. Then add the remaining beef stock, and Worcestershire sauce.
The stew meat can now be returned to the pot, along with canned tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, celery, bay leaf, fresh thyme, and black pepper. Bring the soup to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium low. Let the soup simmer while covered for two hours, or until the beef is tender. Add the corn, peas, and green beans in the final 15 minutes so they don't get mushy. Finally, taste the soup for saltiness and adjust as needed.
How to store leftover soup
The leftovers of this homemade vegetable beef soup store really well. You can place the soup in an airtight container in your refrigerator and reheat leftovers in the microwave over the next five days. The flavor will actually improve the next day when made in advance.
This hearty soup also freezes well. You can make a big batch and store it in freezer bags or other freezer-safe containers and place them in the freezer for up to three months. When you are ready to enjoy it, remove it from the freezer, let it thaw, and then microwave individual servings, or warm everything up in a large pot.
Ideas to customize this recipe
This delicious old fashioned vegetable beef soup recipe can be customized in many different ways. In reality, this easy recipe is only limited by your imagination, and what is available in your pantry. Try any of these ideas.
- Add fresh oregano with the fresh thyme for a more complex flavor.
- Add additional vegetables such as mushrooms or leeks.
- Add a splash of red wine to add more flavor to the rich broth.
- Use lean ground beef rather than stew meat. (Personally, I think stew meat is a far better option.)
More Old Fashioned Recipes
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Old Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup
- 1.5 pounds beef stew meat cut into ¾" cubes
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 7 cups beef stock
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes including liquid
- 2 cups chopped Yukon gold potatoes chopped into 1" chunks
- 2 carrots chopped
- 2 celery ribs chopped
- 1 cup sweet corn kernels You can use frozen corn
- 1 cup peas You can use frozen peas
- 1 cup chopped green beans You can use frozen green beans
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Salt to taste
- Add cooking oil to a large soup pot or Dutch Oven and set over medium high heat. Once oil is shimmering add cubed stew meat and brown on all sides.
- Once meat is well browned, remove it from the pot and set aside. Reduce the stovetop to medium heat and add chopped onion. You can add additional oil if needed. Saute the onion until tender and turning golden brown, then add minced garlic and cook for an additional two minutes.
- Sprinkle in flour and add tomato paste. Stir it well in the pot and allow it to heat through so the raw flour taste cooks out and the tomato paste flavor develops more., being careful not to allow the flour to scorch
- Add a couple of splashes of beef stock to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pot and scrape them with a wooden spoon to remove them and allow them to incorporate into the liquid.
- Add the remainder of the beef stock and Worcestershire sauce. Return the beef stew meat back into the pot along with canned tomatoes, potatoes, celery, bay leaf, sprigs of thyme and black pepper.
- Stir everything together and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and let simmer, covered, for 2 hours or until the beef is tender. Add the corn, peas, and green beans in the final 15 minutes to prevent them from getting mushy.
- Taste for salt and adjust as needed, then ladle into soup bowls and serve.