Hearty Old-Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup

Vegetable beef soup with sliced bread.

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

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

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.

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 pounds beef shanks
  • 8 cups beef stock (unsalted or low sodium)
  • 3/4 cup onion (chopped)
  • 3/4 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper (coarsely ground)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans tomatoes (diced)
  • 2 cups cabbage (shredded)
  • 1 1/2 cups green beans (fresh cut or frozen)
  • 1 1/2 cups potatoes (diced, raw)
  • 1 cup carrots (thinly sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 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, onion, celery, pepper, bay leaf, and salt. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 hours.

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

    Vegetable beef soup in a pot
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. Remove the bay leaf and ladle the soup into bowls. Serve hot and enjoy.

    Hearty vegetable beef soup served with bread
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Tips

  • Cool any leftover soup and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days.
  • The beef shanks can be quite fatty. To eliminate excess fat, prepare and cook the soup 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 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.

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 Do You Add Flavor to Vegetable or Beef Soup?

Flavorful ingredients will lead to a flavorful soup, to 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.