Gosh, show one little photo on Facebook and suddenly I am inundated with personal requests for “Mommy’s” Homemade Beef Vegetable Soup. Okay, here it is. Allow me to introduce my grandmother’s (now mine) Homemade Beef Vegetable Soup. It is a hearty, filling, savory and often-requested comfort food if there ever was one, but in reality … it is a great way to use up leftovers. Sorry, no photos of the process here, but I will take photos next time I make it. I do have a better photo (better than the one I put on Facebook) of the finish product. Here ya go.
Preparing to Make Homemade Beef Vegetable Soup
It starts with a good leftover beef roast (pot roast, whatever you have) and a good mix of crisp (but not necessarily fresh) veggies. You can buy a bag of frozen mixed veggies or you can use your home canned or dehydrated veggies. Alternatively, if you want to use up leftovers, whenever you serve a veggie side dish of corn, carrots, peas, or green beans, drain the leftovers and stick them in a bag/container and stick it in the freezer. Over time, it will start to fill up with frozen mixed veggies. Personally, I prefer home-canned veggies (that is how my grandmother did it) but you can use any veggies in any form, so long as they are put in the pot at the right time. They need to be fairly crisp to get the right texture in your Homemade Beef Vegetable Soup. This is why you don’t add cooked potatoes, cabbage or other soft veggies to this frozen mix. Once cooked & frozen, potatoes & cabbage tend to turn to mush in the soup pot. So you will use those fresh. I generally use this mix of veggies in any of these forms:
- Corn, peas, & green beans: Frozen leftovers or blanched and frozen fresh from my garden. If desperate, I just purchase a mixed bag of frozen veggies or store bought canned veggies.
- Carrots & celery: Dehydrated (but you can also use fresh or frozen, just don’t use canned carrots. They turn to mush.)
- Potatoes, onions, garlic, & cabbage: Fresh — ALWAYS
- Tomatoes & tomato sauce: Diced and home canned (or store bought canned is fine, too!)
Now, make a beef roast that is purposefully too big for one meal. Use a nice tender cut that falls apart (no knife required). Eat that meal and save the leftovers. You need at least 1 1/2 to 2 cups worth of tender cooked beef roast. More is better. Save the meat in the largest chunks possible and all the drippings/liquid but without any of the potatoes, onions, or other veggies from that meal — they will be too mushy for Homemade Beef Vegetable Soup.
Unless you are making the Homemade Beef Vegetable Soup the very next day, freeze the beef and liquid. The day before you want to make the soup, remove the meat & liquid from the freezer and let it thaw. Do NOT thaw the veggies. They will go in frozen. (Isn’t THAT convenient?)
Once you have all these leftovers and veggies lined up and you know what forms your veggies will be in, follow the recipe. The key thing to remember is the ORDER they go into the pot …
- Canned tomatoes, raw veggies (except for cabbage), and dehydrated veggies go in first
- Wait 2-3 hours
- Frozen & canned veggies go in next
- Wait another hour or so
- Cabbage goes in last
- Wait another hour or so
Start in late morning. It should simmer for about 6 hours total.
I know you are thinking “So, how much of each veggie do I use?” Ha. The right/old fashioned answer is, “Use enough.” Trust your gut. If it looks like enough to you, then it probably is. But if you want me to be more specific, I would say a cup, maybe a cup and a half each of all the veggies except potatoes & cabbage. For those, use two cups each. They will cook down. If it looks too thick, add more broth or tomato sauce. If it looks too thin, add more veggies.
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups leftover beef roast and its drippings/liquid
- Extra quart of beef or chicken broth if needed
- 1 pint each tomato sauce and diced tomatoes with juice
- Diced onions
- Peeled & diced potatoes
- 2 cloves of garlic (minced) or garlic powder
- 1 bay leaf
- Couple splashes of Worcestershire sauce
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Any available veggie powders you want to sneak in on your kids
- Green beans
- Thaw the meat & liquid. Strain the liquid into at least a 6 quart crock pot or stock pot. I prefer a crock pot because I don't have to stir it as often. Set the meat in the fridge for now.
- If there is not at least a quart of beef liquid (which we will now call "broth"), add more beef broth (home canned or store bought). Substitute with chicken broth if you need to. It will be fine. I would not use water, but you could in a pinch.
- Add a pint of tomato sauce and a pint of diced tomatoes (sometimes I add two pints of diced tomatoes because I like a lot of tomatoes in mine). Turn the heat on to simmer on high (for a crock pot) or medium (for a stock pot) and let it start heating up. While it is heating up ...
- Wash, peel, and dice all of the fresh, raw veggies. Everything should be no bigger than bite size. You want to be able to get several different veggies on your spoon at one time. So slightly smaller than bite size is best. This step should include the onions, potatoes, garlic (minced) at the very least. If any of your other veggies are also raw, add those as well. This could include carrots, green beans, or celery but only if they are raw to start with. At this stage you are cooking down raw ingredients only (except the cabbage).
- Add any dehydrated veggies. I also like to add a tablespoon or two of kale powder to mine to raise the nutritional level. Feel free to add any veggie powders you have that sound good.
- Add a bay leaf, salt & pepper, a couple splashes of Worcestershire sauce, and stir. Allow to simmer on high (for a crock pot) or medium (for a stock pot) for 2-3 hours. If using a stock pot, stir every half hour or so. Don't let it boil! Just simmer.
- After 2-3 hours of simmering, add any precooked or semi-cooked (blanched & frozen) or canned veggies. Stir and let simmer another hour.
- Add cabbage and meat. Stir and let simmer until the cabbage is translucent but still slightly crunchy -- about an hour.