How to Cook : Vegetable Beef Soup

I’m not that into football, unlike my husband and son. Somewhere about Friday night Matt asked, “What are you making for the Superbowl?” “Superbowl?”, I replied. “Is that this weekend?”

So I set about trying to come up with Superbowl food that I could make without a trip to the grocery store, and without a lot of effort. (I think I should be titling my cooking posts “Lazy Cooking from Scratch”!)

A can of black beans and a can of organic diced tomatoes already seasoned with garlic & herbs made for a quick, easy, and delicious salsa of sorts. Popcorn seasoned with parmesan, garlic, and Italian seasoning = pizza-flavored popcorn! My mom & dad came bearing cheese curds, crab salad, carrots and crackers. (Wow, they were on a “foods that start with C” kick, weren’t they?) I pulled a cheesecake out of the freezer that I’d purchased from the school choir’s fundraiser, and baked a beer bread mix purchased at Becky’s recent Tastefully Simple party. Things were shaping up nicely! And for something of substance I decided on vegetable beef soup.

In years past I used to get the beef soup bones and keep them in the freezer to feed starving doggies when I accidentally ran out of dog food. I had no idea what to do with them. Once I tried throwing one into a pot of vegetable soup, but it turned out nasty and tough. So they were relegated to dog food status.

Instead I used stew meat, or leftover roast beef. And this is certainly a fine way to go, especially when short on time. But using real soup bones gives you health benefits that just using the meat doesn’t. Boiling bones releases minerals in a form that we humans can easily absorb. It also breaks down the tendons and cartilage into things like chondroitin and glucosamine – a now-popular dietary supplement. Of course getting these things from “real” food instead of factory-produced supplements is always going to do you more good. And you’ll know when you eat this soup. It just makes you feel so well.

Enough chatter…on to the recipe!

Use 3 to 5 pounds of meaty beef soup bones. I think I used even a bit more here. If frozen, defrost appropriately. (I’m not sure why I always take a picture of the packages! Not terribly useful, but I just like the classic look of the crisp, white butcher paper. Weird, I know.)

Put them in a pan and put them in the oven. You’ll want to preheat the oven to 350 degrees first. Roast them for about an hour.

When they come out of the oven they’ll be nice and brown and carmelized. According to Sally Fallon, roasting the bones first “forms compounds that give flavor and color–the result of a fusion of amino acids with sugars, called the Maillard reaction.” She would know.

Then throw those bones into your largest soup pot, salt well, and cover with cold water. I used a 10-quart stock pot. Bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down until you have a slow rolling boil. Boil for a couple of hours. Or more, to keep that good smell permeating your house all day! As it boils some “scum” will form on top. Just spoon it off. It will stop doing that eventually.

Getting the meat out of the broth can be an adventure. I have a small strainer/colander with a handle that I use to scoop the meat and bone out of the broth.

Set one daughter to work shredding the meat.

Set the other daughter to work dicing vegetables.

This is another one of those recipes where you can just use whatever vegetable combination you see fit. We used 2 carrots, 2 stalks celery, 3 or 4 potatoes, 2 cups frozen corn, 2 cups frozen green beans, a palmful of dehydrated onion flakes, and a pint of diced tomatoes. I didn’t season with anything but sea salt, but you could try basil, oregano, garlic, Worcestershire sauce. Go crazy, get creative!

I would think this soup would freeze just fine. But no matter how large of a vat of it I make, ours never lasts long enough to find out!

Vegetable Beef Soup
3 to 5 pounds meaty beef soup bones
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 onion diced or 3 T. dehydrated onion flakes
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups or 1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups frozen corn or 1 can corn
2 cups frozen green beans or 1 can green beans
sea salt to taste

Roast soup bones 1 hour at 350 degrees. Place in large stock pot, salt to taste, and fill pot with cold water. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat to a slow rolling boil. Spoon off any scum that forms on surface of the stock. Boil 2 hours. Carefully remove meat and bones. Shred meat and return to pot. Add vegetables and cook until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

Okay, I know this recipe is already of epic proportions. But just a few more things in parting:

* If you make a vat of beef broth, like I did in my 10-quart stockpot, but don’t want that much soup, just take some of the broth out and freeze it for later. Same with the meat off the soup bones – freeze part of it for making soup later. Then just reduce the amount of vegetables accordingly.

* I referenced this wonderful article by Sally Falon for some of the health info. Go read the article, lots of good stuff there. Sally is the author of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats which I highly recommend.

* Does anyone have a copycat recipe for Tastefully Simple’s beer bread mix? That stuff is wicked delicious and I’ve never found a recipe that comes close to it.

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10 Responses to How to Cook : Vegetable Beef Soup

  1. karl says:

    tabitha has been making beef stock over the last winter storm. it warms the soul.

  2. frugalmom says:

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Did I say thank you? Now I know what to do with all the soup bones we get when we get our share of beef. So, can you pass along any thing good for the beef short ribs? They always seem to fatty to me. hard to eat like a regular pork rib.

  3. That looks so yummy – I’m going to have to try it this weekend – as I have tons of soup bones sitting in the freezer. Thank you,Kris

  4. Patti says:

    Nice looking soup bones! I think you show pics of the packages to show off your honest to goodness, real food, I can sell it for money and people actually buy it, real label. 😀 Hugs

  5. fm – you read my mind! I’ve got a ribs post coming, just have to find the time to actually cook the things. Hopefully this weekend?

  6. farm mom says:

    Thanks for the recipe Kelli. I’ve made soup with soup bones before and while it smelled devine it lacked a real beefy flavor. I’m wondering if maybe the roasting first helps bring out the flavor. Will have to try it this way. Thanks.

  7. fm – I think that’s what I did wrong when I first attempted to use soup bones. I didn’t roast them, and I threw them right into the pot with the vegetables. I think you’re right about roasting bringing out the flavor. And I think the soup bones need that long boiling time to both extract the flavor and get the meat nice and tender.Let me know how yours turns out when you try it!

  8. Jana B says:

    Mmmm… this sounds really good!!!

  9. jana – be sure to let me know if you try it!

  10. Sonya says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I have many soup bones from our beef and I had no idea what to do with them. I’m going to try this today and I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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