Hot soup and sandwich on a cold winter day makes a heart-warming, soothing meal. Savory Vegetable Beef Soup reminds me of a soup served at a small restaurant, Ludwig’s Center Stage Cafe, in upstate New York.The deli shoppe at the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester serves sandwiches and wraps named after composers and musical compositions. Their vegetable beef soup was full of healthy vegetables and beans.It has been over a year since we visited the Eastman School of Music campus and the restaurant, so I’m making the soup from recall. The idea is to cook a savory soup full of hearty vegetables, beans, herbs and beef. It’s a healthy, low fat soup. My version is quick and easy to make–a welcome change when cooking soups. This soup is the first thing we reach for when looking for a quick frozen meal to defrost and heat up in a hurry.
The flavors of this soup blend together well and the soup is delicious. Not to brag, but it is a very tasty soup. To speed up the preparation time, I used canned tomatoes, canned kidney beans and ground beef rather than stew meat (which can take several hours to cook) and dried beans. There are plenty of fresh vegetables, too, in the soup–these cook quickly.I have made the recipe for the soup several times with variations. As long as the basic proportions of broth, ground meat and tomatoes are kept constant, the vegetables can be varied depending on what is available. This time I doubled the ingredients filling a 6-quart (5.7 liter) cast iron pot to the rim. There were plenty of leftovers to freeze.
Here are the ingredients from my first batch and some suggestions for ingredients from both my variations.
- I used Yukon Gold potatoes in some of the soup variations. These potatoes are “waxy” potatoes and hold their shape when cooked. Russet potatoes, for example, are mealy and tend to fall apart when cooked. Small new red potatoes can be substituted for the Gold Brand potatoes.
- I like to add dried beans to soups. Dried beans beans add fiber and nutrition. Soups are a good way to incorporate beans into meals. I used canned kidney beans rather than dried ones to speed up the cooking time. Trappey’s began as a local Louisiana brand of foods. Drain the beans first in a colander.
- I added both green bell pepper and a jalapeno pepper to the soup. Bell peppers are nutritious adding Vitamin C and A. The Jalapeno pepper adds a little “bite”.
- For tomatoes, I like diced tomatoes plus the juice. The chunks are small enough to blend with the other vegetables and the mild tomato flavor doesn’t overwhelm the taste of the soup.
- I always add generous amounts of onions and garlic. Fresh carrots are plentiful adding color and nutrition (Vitamin A and fiber). Many other vegetables can be added to the soup. The grocery store was featuring fresh greens so I added these to my last batch. Other vegetables that could be added are corn, Lima beans, celery. Cut the vegetables in bite sizes pieces.
- For the broth, I like Swanson brand of chicken broth. This brand is consistent in flavor and often I use the sodium-reduced cans. However, keep in mind that even sodium-reduced canned soup has lots of sodium; so extra salt in the soup really isn’t needed.
- Lean ground beef works well in the soup and helps cut down on the fat.
- For savory seasonings I used celery salt (or seed), oregano, paprika (not chili powder) and red pepper flakes. And my Hungarian-ancestry neighbors would say–make sure the paprika is fresh (not old) for the best flavor. I also added Worcestershire sauce and black pepper. This added just the right amount of savory flavor the soup–it doesn’t have to be “hot”.
Making the soup
Use a large soup pot or 6-quart cast iron pot for this recipe.
Saute the onions until transparent and bell pepper to reduce the “raw taste”. Add the garlic for a minute or two.
Transfer these to another bowl and brown the ground meat in the same cast iron pot. Drain off any excess liquid or fat. Return the onions and bell peppers and add the vegetables and drained kidney beans to the ground meat.
Add the canned tomatoes with the juice and the seasonings.
Add the chicken broth and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. If desired, add additional water as this makes a very thick soup–almost a stew. But there wasn’t much room left in the pot!
Here’s the soup!
I made this soup several times with variations. The last batch makes a huge recipe yielding 12 cups of soup. It is easy to halve the recipe using only 1 pound ground meat, for example, rather than 2 pounds if you want a smaller batch. Most of the preparation time is peeling and dicing the vegetables and potatoes.
Savory Vegetable Beef Soup
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped finely, (2 cups)
- 1 small green bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
- 1 jalapeno pepper, diced finely
- 2 garlic cloves, minced finely
- 2 lb lean ground beef (93/7 lean to fat)
- 1 15.5-oz can red kidney beans, drained
- 1 lb Gold potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks (3 cups chunks)
- 8 oz carrots, peeled and sliced in bite size pieces (2 cups)
- 8 oz green beans, sliced in bite size pieces (2 cups)
- 2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes plus juice
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp ground oregano
- 1 tsp celery salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 48 oz carton Swanson chicken broth
Method and Steps
- Add oil to a 6-quart cast iron pot or large soup pot and heat to medium high. Add the onions, bell pepper and jalapeno pepper and saute for about 5 minutes until onions are translucent. Reduce heat, if needed, to avoid burning.
- Add the garlic to the pot and cook 2 minutes longer. Transfer these to a bowl and reserve.
- Add the ground meat to the pot and saute until browned. Drain off any liquid and fat.
- Return the onions, peppers and garlic to the ground meat. Stir to combine. Add the drained kidney beans, potatoes, carrots and green beans. Cook and stir a minute or two.
- Add the diced tomatoes plus juice, Worcestershire sauce, ground oregano, celery salt, crushed red pepper flakes and black pepper. Stir to combine.
- And a carton of Swanson chicken broth, bring to a boil while stirring. Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer for 15 minutes until the potatoes, green beans and carrots are tender. Stir occasionally. If desired, continue to simmer the soup for up to an hour.
- Taste for seasonings, adjust if needed.
- Freeze leftovers, the soup is tasty the next day, too.
Enjoy this hearty and savory soup on a cold winter day!