Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vegetable Beef Soup

Printable Recipe

This soup is wonderful! When my son tried it for the first time, he declared it to be "extraordinary"! You can easily double the ingredients, and stretch the soup to go farther. It can be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth in place of the beef broth, and of course, omitting the meat. It can be made in the crock pot, or on top of the stove. I will include instructions at the end for making it in the crock pot. This soup really hits the spot on those cold winter nights. This is very good served with a nice, crusty bread.

Note: I recently made this and doubled the batch. Of course, I added a 2nd can of tomato sauce, but it made it too tomatoey, in my opinion, there wasn't enough of a beefy flavor to the soup. I didn't have any more Swanson Beef Broth, so I kept adding beef bouillon granules, until it tasted beefy enough to me. Bouillon has so much sodium in it, I wish I hadn't added that 2nd can of tomato sauce. So, if you're going to double the batch, wait until the very end to add that 2nd can, to see if you really want it or not, or maybe don't add the entire can.

For the Meat
1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat, sprinkled generously with paprika (I use a chuck roast that I trim of fat, and cut into small chunks)
a little vegetable oil, for browning the meat
2-4 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1-2 tsp beef bouillon granules, optional

For the Soup
2 (14-oz) cans Swanson Beef Broth (I use the sodium-reduced broth)
1 1/2 additional cups water
3-4 potatoes, cut into chunks (you can leave the skins on if you'd like)
3/4 cup onion, chpd
3/4 cup peeled carrots, cut into small chunks
1 small green bell pepper, membrane and seeds removed, and cut into fourths (not totally necessary, and you will remove this at the end, but it lends a real nice flavor to the broth if you include it)
2 cans (14 1/2 - oz each) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (8-oz) tomato sauce
dried thyme leaves, to taste (these seasonings, I don't measure - I just sprinkle them in until it tastes right, but if I had to guess on the amounts, it is probably 1 tsp or so, for each)
dried oregano leaves, to taste
dried basil leaves, to taste
additional salt and pepper, if needed
At the end, I also add the following (I don't exactly measure the amounts, but just dump them in):
3/4 cup frozen green beans
3/4 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup frozen corn

For the Stove-Top
Trim the meat of fat, and cut into even sized chunks. Sprinkle generously with paprika. Brown in batches, in a hot skillet in a little oil. Don't brown all of the meat all at once, or it will just steam it, and you won't get a nicely browned crust. Once all the meat is browned, place in a large skillet with a cover and add about 2-4 cups of water, about 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper. You can add about 1 -2 tsp beef bouillon granules, if desired. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender.

After the meat is tender, I set it aside in the broth and add it all back to the soup at the very end. (I do this because otherwise, if you continue to cook the meat along with the vegetables, it will dry out and get tough, as the vegetables cook. So just put it all in a separate saucepan and cover the pan). In another large soup pot, combine the beef broth, the additional water, potatoes, onion, carrots, green bell pepper, tomatoes, tomato sauce, thyme leaves, oregano leaves and basil leaves. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 20 minutes. Add the frozen vegetables, and cook for another 20 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender. Remove the green pepper and add the meat with its broth. Cook a few more minutes, until the meat is heated through.

For the Crock Pot
Add all of the ingredients (except for the frozen vegetables), in a 6-quart crock pot, reducing the amount of water to just 1 1/2 cups. You do not need to brown the meat first, but you certainly can if you wish to. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-9 hours, or on HIGH for 4-5 hours. About 30 minutes before the end of cooking time, cook all of the frozen vegetables on top of the stove, according to package directions, until tender, then add them to the crock pot. The original recipe calls for adding the frozen vegetables at the very beginning, but every time I've made this in the crock pot, they never seem to cook all the way through, and get tender enough. You might even find that the same thing happens to the carrots, so you might want to precook those too, and just add at the very end. You will find that you really do need a large crock pot, as this makes a lot of soup.

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