As the air turns cooler in the fall, the food on the table turns warm. From then til spring, soup it is, a couple of times a week. I make it in big batches; the leftovers are perfect for quick lunches and light suppers. Often, some goes into the freezer.
This is a flavorful soup, all about the vegetables but with enough meat to feel substantial. Make it over a couple of days if you can, so that the fat can be removed from the beef stock and the flavors can meld.
And it's a 'concept recipe' - more a starting point, really, than a recipe to follow so never the same twice. I use a combination of fresh vegetables and frozen vegetables. For convenience, you could use all frozen but skip the frozen mixed 'stew' vegetables except in a pinch, they can be gummy. But frozen green beans, corn and and peas are real winners. For a low-carb soup, omit the potatoes, corn, carrots and peas, then double up with the other vegetables or add other low-carb veggies such as broccoli or cauliflower.
Ketchup is a low-brow but quick and reliable way of inserting a dollop of flavor.
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VEGETABLE BEEF SOUP
Time to table: 48 hours recommended but could be as little as 4 hours
Makes 10 cups
DAY ONE ~ MAKE THE STOCK 10 minutes hands-on, 2 hours total
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 pounds meaty soup bones
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
6 cups water
In a Dutch oven, brown the soup bones a bit in the water, just enough to create a bit of crustiness on the meaty parts. Add the onion and garlic as they're prepped, then the bay leaves. Add the water, bring to a boil, cover and cook for about 90 minutes at a slow simmer. Refrigerate overnight.
DAY TWO ~ MAKE THE SOUP 25 minutes hands-on, 1 hour total
15 ounces canned diced tomato
8 cups vegetables - 1 cup each, diced if needed (I used potato with skins on, carrot, celery, cabbage, okra, frozen corn, frozen green beans, frozen green peas)
1/2 cup ketchup or to taste
Salt & pepper to taste
Scrape off the fat layer and discard. Remove the soup bones and set aside for the moment. Remove the bay leaves from the beef stock and bring to a boil. Add the vegetables as they are prepped, the ones that take the longest to cook first, the frozen ones last. (Tip: to maintain their bright green color, add the green beans about 10 minutes before serving, the green peas about 3 minutes before serving.) Remove the meat from the soup bones and cut into small pieces. Add to soup. Add the ketchup and salt and pepper to taste. Return to a boil, then cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are cooked.
DAY THREE ~ SERVE & ENJOY, FINALLY!
Return to a boil. Taste and adjust seasoning.