Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Vegetable Beef Soup

My personal take on a comfort food favorite: vegetable beef soup. Slow-simmered and full of flavor.

It's New Year's Eve and what am I doing? I've got my sweat pants on and am snuggled up in my favorite blanket watching cooking shows. Yep, New Year's Eve is a pretty uneventful holiday in our house. There's no staying up until midnight for us. Just food, TV, Wii games, and to bed at a normal time.

I was fortunate to take this week off of work. My husband is a teacher so I always try to plan to take some time off during his breaks. It's been a much welcome break this week to have some time to rest and recharge.

Lady has loved the extra snuggle time
I love having the time to cook more when I'm off and away from work. But, in case we make plans, I like to have plenty of leftovers so we can make a quick meal. I made a pot of this vegetable beef soup at the beginning of the week for us have on hand.We had it for dinner one night and will probably get two lunches out of it.

I've had many different kinds of vegetable beef soup. Most everyone I know has a rendition of it with some of the ingredients varying. It's the kind of soup you can make with whatever you have in your pantry/refrigerator. I've been known to make the soup without one or two of the vegetables and it still turns out great.

I wasn't always a fan of this soup. I've had a few versions that were awfully bland, so I have tweaked my version to be flavorful and satisfying. Start by browning the beef and sauteing the onions, celery, garlic, and tomato paste. Assemble the rest of the soup and throw it in the oven for a little over an hour. I like to simmer mine in the oven, but you can easily simmer it on the stove top or throw it in the crock pot and it will turn out just as good.

One thing I've discovered, is that it is best to let the soup rest after cooking for the best texture. I'm not sure if there is a scientific explanation behind it, but I have found that if I serve it immediately, the potatoes tend to fall apart. Once you've take it out of the oven, allow the soup to sit covered for about 20 minutes and uncovered for an additional 5. This allows the soup to cool to a more manageable temperature and the potatoes absorb some of the liquid and firm back up.

Soup always seems to taste better the second day, so this makes great leftovers!

Vegetable Beef Soup

  • 1 lb. ground chuck
  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely minced
  • 1 large stalk of celery, finely diced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, smashed and finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1-14.5 ounce can cut green beans
  • 1-14.5 ounce petite diced tomatoes
  • 5-6 medium to large size potatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 32 ounces (4 cups) low-sodium beef broth
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4-5 bay leaves 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a dutch oven (5 quart size or larger), brown chuck over medium high heat. Break into small pieces as it browns (I like to use a potato masher to break it into even size pieces). Season with 1 teaspoon of salt. Pour beef into strainer and wipe dutch oven clean. Return dutch oven to stove top and heat canola oil over medium-low heat. Saute onions and celery until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and saute for another minute or until the paste deepens in color.

2. Stir in green beans (including the green bean water from the can), diced tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, corn, peas, bay leaves, sugar, and pepper. At this point, I don't think it is necessary to add additional salt (since we seasoned the beef and the broth is already lightly salted). Taste at the end and see if it needs extra salt. Add in ground chuck and beef broth. Make sure everything is submerged under the broth and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, cover with the lid and transfer to preheated oven and bake for one hour and fifteen minutes.

3. Carefully remove the dutch oven from the oven and allow the soup to sit, covered for 15-20 minutes. Uncover and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if needed. Serve with biscuits or crackers.

Yields: 6-8 servings

Source: Tasteful Cuisine (and adapted from the many vegetable beef soup recipes I've tasted).

Happy New Year! I wish you a happy and prosperous 2015.

1 comment :

  1. This is just my kind of soup Hailey! Have to try it with ground beef. Happy New Year!