Hearty Old-Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup

Vegetable beef soup with sliced bread.

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  • Total: 3 hrs 55 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 3 hrs 45 mins
  • Servings: 8 servings

This is a tasty vegetable beef soup recipe made with meaty soup bones—beef shanks—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 are good alternatives. 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 playing with your family. The comforting soup will warm everyone up when they come in from the cold.

Serve this delicious old-fashioned vegetable beef soup with ​homemade no-knead bread or Southern buttermilk biscuits.


  • 2 to 3 pounds beef shanks
  • 8 cups beef stock (unsalted or low sodium, or use a beef base and water)
  • 3/4 cup onion (chopped)
  • 3/4 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper (coarsely ground)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans tomatoes (diced)
  • 2 cups cabbage (shredded)
  • 1 cup carrots (thinly sliced)
  • 1 1/2 cups green beans (fresh cut or frozen)
  • 1 1/2 cups potato (diced, raw)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for old-fashioned vegetable beef soup.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, combine the beef shanks, beef stock (or beef base and water), salt, onions, celery, pepper, and bay leaf. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 hours.

    Cook the beef shank with the seasoning vegetables.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. Add tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, green beans, potatoes, and Worcestershire sauce to the pot, along with sugar, if using. Continue to simmer for about 45 minutes longer, or until vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings.

    Simmer the vegetable beef soup.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. Remove the bay leaf and ladle the soup into bowls.

    Hearty vegetable beef soup.
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  5. Serve the soup with crusty bread or rolls. Enjoy!


  • Cool leftover soup and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • The beef shanks can be quite fatty. To eliminate excess fat, prepare and cook the soup for a few hours before serving or 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.
  • 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 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-close freezer bags or freezer containers, leaving about an inch of headspace to allow for expansion. Freeze soup for up to 3 months for the best flavor.

Recipe Variations

  • For beefier 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.
  • Scale the vegetable additions up if you like.
  • 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.