Vegetable Soup (with or without Beef)
Here's a warm, comforting stew/soup to cook up on a cold winter day. I always make a big batch, so it'll last a few days. Perfect for around this time of year because it's easy to make, and it'll give you a break from your standard holiday leftovers.
Vegetable Beef Soup
(for vegetarians, simply leave out the beef)
- around 1 lb. of lean beef suitable for stewing (buy organic, grass fed if possible), cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 2 large potatoes, washed & cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 3 carrots, washed and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
- 2-3 stalks of celery, washed & chopped
- 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups low sodium, natural vegetable broth
- veggies of your choice: definitely add more here. I typically throw in 1 or 2 cans of kidney beans (low sodium, rinsed, of course), a bag of frozen corn, a bag of frozen, cut green beans, sometimes a bag of frozen lima beans, sometimes chopped spinach or kale, and sometimes mushrooms. Don't be afraid to experiment!
- seasonings: salt & pepper, of course.
Other good seasonings, thyme, sage, oregano. I frequently add a pinch of red pepper flake to recipies, to enhance the flavors. If you add just a pinch into a big pot, it doesn't add heat, just lifts up the other flavors. Approximate amounts: 1/2 t. salt, 1/4 t. pepper, 1/2 t. dried thyme, 1/2 t. oregano - I eyeball my seasonings and taste as I go.
Also, try adding a shake or two of Worchestershire.
Swirl a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a large soup pot. With the heat on medium high, toss in the beef chunks (if you're using meat) and the onions. Sauté for a few minutes, until the meat starts to brown.
Toss in the chopped garlic, potatoes and carrots. Saute for a few more minutes.
Then add celery, crushed tomatoes, broth, and water to fill the pot up about 3/4 full. Bring to almost a boil, then turn down to medium low. Add your seasonings. Start out with just a little seasonings, you can always adjust later. Cook for 40 - 50 minutes.
Toss in the frozen/canned/extra veggies, after you've given them a quick rinse in warm water. You may have to turn up the heat a bit again to medium or medium high. Cook for another 20 minutes. That's it!
Sometimes I add pasta, in which case, I cook the pasta separately and add it in. Same thing with brown rice. Experiment. I obviously do. Make this recipe your own by changing it up and adding what you like - and even try some things you don't like. Just make sure it's packed with veggies!
One more note. Some people might be surprised that I mentioned frozen vegetables, but unless you live in a warm climate where truly fresh veggies are available year round, frozen is often more fresh than the "fresh" veggies from your supermarket's produce isle. The only canned veggies I would recommend are beans like kidney, black, or garbanzo, and even then, buy the low sodium and rinse thoroughly. Ideally, you'd buy dried beans and cook them yourself, but canned ones are a time saver.