Hearty Old-Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup

Bowls of chunky vegetable beef soup and sliced white bread on a plate

The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 3 hrs 45 mins
Total: 4 hrs
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 10 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
435 Calories
11g Fat
19g Carbs
63g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 435
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 15%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 133mg 44%
Sodium 805mg 35%
Total Carbohydrate 19g 7%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 63g
Vitamin C 35mg 176%
Calcium 143mg 11%
Iron 8mg 45%
Potassium 1413mg 30%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This tasty vegetable beef soup recipe is made with meaty soup bones and a variety of vegetables. The soup is a fabulous cold-weather meal, and the fact that it is made with beef shanks means it is easy on the budget. The bones from the shanks add flavor to the soup, but stewing beef or cubed beef chuck can be used instead. For a meatier soup, add about 1/2 pound of cubed beef to the soup along with the beef shanks.

Simmer this soup on the back burner or on a wood stove while you enjoy a snowy day with your family. The comforting soup will warm everyone up when they come in from the cold. Serve old-fashioned vegetable beef soup with ​crusty bread or buttermilk biscuits.

"This is the perfect soup on a cold winter’s day or when you’re not feeling well. Slowly simmering the meat coaxes out maximum flavor, thereby fortifying the broth. Everyone in my house commented on how wonderful the kitchen smelled. I’m freezing a batch for a future feel-good meal." —Diana Andrews

Hearty Old-Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 to 3 pounds beef shanks

  • 8 cups unsalted or low-sodium beef stock

  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped onion

  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

  • 1 bay leaf

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen green beans cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 1/2 cups diced potatoes

  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots

  • 3/4 cup chopped celery

  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 teaspoon sugar, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for vegetable beef soup recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray

  2. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, combine the beef shanks, beef stock, onion, pepper, bay leaf, and salt. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, and skim off and discard any foam. Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 3 hours, or until the meat is mostly tender.

    Beef shank in a large pot with beef stock, chopped vegetables, and bay leaf

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray

  3. Remove the beef shanks from the soup. Skim excess fat from the surface of the soup with a ladle or spoon. Remove the meat from the bones, cut it into small pieces, and add it back to the broth. Add the tomatoes, cabbage, green beans, potatoes, carrots, celery, Worcestershire sauce, and sugar, if using. Continue to simmer for about 45 minutes longer, or until the vegetables and meat are tender. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

    Vegetable beef soup with pieces of cooked meat in a large pot

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray

  4. Remove the bay leaf and ladle the soup into bowls. Serve hot and enjoy.

    Bowls of vegetable beef soup and slices of white bread on a small plate

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray


The beef shanks can be quite fatty. To eliminate excess fat, prepare and cook the soup a day in advance. Refrigerate the soup in the cooking pot and skim off the fat when it congeals on the top. Reheat the soup over medium heat until hot.

Alternatively, you can cook, cool and refrigerate the beef shank broth the day before. The next day, remove the hardened fat from the surface and bring the broth to a simmer. Proceed with adding the chopped beef and vegetables and continue cooking the soup.

Recipe Variations

  • Beef base and water can be used in place of the stock. For soup with a stronger beef flavor, add some beef broth concentrate or beef base before you add salt, and then add salt, as needed.
  • Add diced rutabaga to the soup along with the carrots and potatoes.
  • A savory garnish can make an ordinary soup look and taste extra-special. Top this vegetable beef soup with croutons, chopped chives, parsley, or grated cheese.

How to Store and Freeze

  • The soup will keep for 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • This soup freezes well, so there's no need to worry that the recipe makes too much for your family. You might even want to double the recipe if you have a giant pot (or split it between 2 pots) so you'll have plenty of soup in the freezer for the next few months. To cool the hot soup quickly, pour it into a large bowl and place the bowl in a pan of ice water. When the soup has cooled, pour it into serving-size or larger zip-top freezer bags or freezer containers, leaving about an inch of headspace to allow for expansion. Freeze soup for up to three months.

How do you add flavor to vegetable or beef soup?

Flavorful ingredients will lead to a flavorful soup, so be sure to use high-quality broth or stock (homemade is best) and good ingredients. For extra flavor, add dried spices like thyme, oregano, or red pepper flakes, a little tomato paste, or a touch of soy sauce to your vegetable beef soup.