Old-Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup

Old-Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 3 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 10 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
453 Calories
13g Fat
16g Carbs
64g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10
Amount per serving
Calories 453
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 5g 23%
Cholesterol 145mg 48%
Sodium 443mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 64g
Vitamin C 12mg 58%
Calcium 102mg 8%
Iron 8mg 44%
Potassium 1242mg 26%
*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.)

Our old-fashioned vegetable beef soup is a flavorful and satisfying dish that will feed 10 people, make great leftovers, if you have any, and freeze beautifully if you want to double the amounts and have soup ready at any time. The combination of beef, vegetables, rice, and potatoes, cooked with a little fatty and smokey bacon drippings, makes this beef soup a special one, great for cold nights.

Beef shanks, also called soup bones, add excellent flavor to soups and stews and are also the irreplaceable base for making beef stock. Beef shanks usually offer a generous amount of meat and add texture to vegetable soups like ours. If the bones you're using seem to be low on meat, add a pound of diced beef chuck or round and sear it along with the beef shanks.

Filled with onions, carrots, green beans, potatoes, and rice, the recipe can easily be adapted to your liking, adding other vegetables in lieu of the ones we suggested or replacing some amounts with other ingredients like parsnips, rutabaga, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, corn, or leafy greens like kale or spinach. If you are using store-bought beef stock instead of water, buy unsalted or low-sodium, and taste the stock before you add any additional salt into the soup. Serve this dish with biscuits or crusty bread on the side and a good amount of grated Parmesan cheese on top.


  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings (or vegetable oil)

  • 4 pounds beef shanks

  • 2 quarts water (cold)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)

  • 1 small onion (chopped)

  • 5 carrot carrots (peeled, sliced in 1/4-inch thickness)

  • 1/2 pound green beans (fresh or frozen, cut into 2-inch pieces)

  • 1 pound red-skinned potatoes

  • 2 stalks celery (thinly sliced)

  • 1 14.5-ounces can diced tomatoes

  • 1/4 cup long grain rice (or pearled barley)

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Old-Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup ingredients

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. Heat the bacon drippings or oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat.

    oil in a pot

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. Add the beef shanks and cook, turning, until well browned on all sides.

    beef shank cooking in a pot

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. Cover the beef with the water or stock. Bring to a boil over high heat.

    beef and water in a pot

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  5. Add salt, pepper, and onions to the beef pot. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.

    Add salt, pepper, and onions to the beef pot

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  6. Add the carrots, string beans, potatoes, celery, tomatoes, and rice into the beef-and-onion mixture. Cover the pot and simmer for about 1 more hour.

    Add the carrots, string beans, potatoes, celery, tomatoes, and rice into the beef-and-onion mixture

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  7. Remove the bones from the soup and retrieve all the meat. Discard the bones, dice the meat, and add it back to the soup.

    Remove the bones from the soup and retrieve all the meat

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  8. Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings, as needed. Stir the parsley into the soup and serve hot.

    Old-Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup, with parsley, salt and pepper

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

How to Store the Soup

This soup keeps well for a few days and is a great dish to freeze:

  • Store the soup in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze it for up to 2 months in individual containers. If you know you will be freezing the soup, cook the vegetables until just tender. They'll be less likely to fall apart on reheating. Make sure the soup is completely cooled before you freeze it.

Make a Gluten-Free Soup

Either because of a health concern or because it's a dietary approach many like to follow, some people choose to avoid gluten, which can be problematic if you're hosting a group meal and don't have time to make additional dishes. Our soup can easily be made gluten-free by swapping a couple of ingredients:

  • If using store-bought stock, check that there is no wheat in the ingredients; many stocks have wheat and additives that contain wheat.
  • Choose rice and not barley as your grain. Barley contains gluten and should be avoided in gluten-free diets.
  • Serve the soup with corn chips, cornbread (without wheat), or gluten-free bread or crackers.