14 January 2012

Vegetable Beef Soup - A Bowl of Classic Comfort

Vegetable beef soup, served with nothing more than some good bread, makes a satisfying meal any time of year, but never more so than in winter. Nothing warms me up faster than a steaming bowl of homemade soup. They don't call it Soup Weather for nothing!

My basic recipe, delicious as is, has endless variations. Add in whatever fresh vegetables are in season in your area. Or throw in some frozen peas. You might skip the tomato paste and add in diced or stewed tomatoes instead. There are no rules.

You might season it according to the bread you'll be serving. With focaccia or ciabatta, add Italian herbs to the soup. With warm flour tortillas, add some Mexican seasonings. Don't like Worcestershire sauce? Use soy sauce instead. As always, I look forward to reading your comments. (Apropos of absolutely nothing is the kitty photo at the end of this post! Meet Lionel from Cranberry Morning.)

Vegetable Beef Soup

(Makes 4 main-dish servings)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound stew beef, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (Rocky Mountain Organic Meats)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups beef broth (I use Pacific organic)
2 cups water
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large stalk celery, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1/8 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Any other seasonal vegetables you have on hand

1 In large pot (I use a Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French Oven), heat olive oil. Season meat with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Over medium heat, brown meat well on all sides, about 10 minutes. Add onions and cook for a few minutes until softened. (If you have time, cook for a lot longer until onions are at least on their way to being caramelized.) Stir in tomato paste and cook for a minute to "toast." Stir in broth and water. Simmer for 30 minutes.

2 Add carrots, celery, 1/4 teaspoon each salt, pepper and marjoram and 1/8 teaspoon each thyme and crushed red pepper flakes. Maybe throw in a bay leaf. Simmer for 30 minutes.

3 Add potatoes and any other seasonal vegetables you like. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. If you add extra vegetables, also add another cup of broth and another cup of water. Taste and adjust seasoning. Sometimes I like to add in a cup of frozen peas during the last 5 minutes.


Cranberry Morning said...

That DOES look wonderful! I love making soups, and we probably eat a soup once a week in the wintertime.

What a gorgeous cat!! ;-) Lionel says he appreciates the plug. He's quite vain, you know. He often bathes next to my head at night. When I give him 'a look,' he stops and looks at me as if to say, 'You have a problem with this??'

Unknown said...

That looks so good right now.. it's a cool, dreary day here. I could use a nice big bowl of it right now!
(p.s. I had no trouble seeing or commenting! yay!)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Jenn. I do love putting on a big pot of soup on a dreary day, taking in the warmth and aromas while settling in with a good book.

Charles said...

Oh, it's definitely soup weather. It just made one yesterday, with a bit of extra heat inside in the way of curry. My wife makes a soup quite like this. It's actually one of the best soups I know, so if yours is anything like it I just know it'll be as delicious as it looks! :)

Sandra Wilkes said...

I know this would be good! And healthy. My soup tends to taste best when I don't use frozen veggies. Is it just me? BTW, I had to download Chrome too...and FireFox. My IE just stopped working well with Blogger! So frustrating until I found the solution. Good luck with yours too.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Sandra! The only frozen vegetable I ever put in soup is peas. For some reason, they don't give the soup a "phony" taste.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Judy! Lionel probably appreciated the fact that I linked to HIM at Cranberry Morning!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Yes, I do like to put a little hot stuff in a soup once in a while, especially if I have a cold. But other times, just the warmth of the soup is all I need to warm and comfort me.

Richard Sheppard said...

You are right Jean, It's cold outside! But it's the best time for a hot bowl of soup. I made this soup on Saturday night and it was tasty! It was even more delicious as leftovers on Sunday night after sketching and painting downtown Healdsburg.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Richard, thank you! I'm looking forward to seeing those sketches. Whenever I visit your blog and view your work, it's like a mini-vacation right in the middle of the day!

Sully said...

You mean the cat isn't the entrĂ©e? Bummer. Oh well, I do like quality soup. Beyond my range to have actual fresh ingredients on hand, but Wolfgang Puck and Amy's soups are a step up from the salt-in-a-can that other brands disseminate. Eating fresh soup makes me feel holy and self-righteous (I obviously need this…). Sort of basic to the point of feeling disciplined, especially after a hard workout. Slurp, slurp.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

No, Lionel is not on the menu! He looks like he enjoys eating, doesn't he? A lot! At least you are buying the better store-bought soups (which rather surprises me). Even I, yes I, have eaten them in a pinch!

Unknown said...

An awesome bowl of comfort in this type of weather!! Soup is very tempting:)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Malli. I plan to make some more this rainy weekend.

The Dashing Chic said...

I was too distracted by the kitty with it's tongue sticking out to fully read the recipe, but im sure its good!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

I understand completely! Maybe you can come back to the recipe later, after you stare adoringly at Lionel for a while!

Oregon Kimm said...

Oh, this looks so much like my grandmother's soup. I love it with a good hearty piece of bread.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Kimm! I think I could live on soup and bread. I'm a breadaholic--you shouldn't even mention bread to me! :D