Beef & Vegetable Soup

Thursday 15 February 2018

I have read a lot  lately about the photographic "value" of brown foods in the blogosphere.  I read a column recently in the Guardian in which Nigella Lawson said the following (In speaking about platforms such as Instagram):

”Of course, Instagram is a visual medium, no less than television, so it’s always going to favour photogenic food, but still, it can make a cook despair. When I post a picture of a stew, I feel I have to remind people – who find the messy brownness unappealing – that 1) stews are brown and 2) brown food tastes the best. It doesn’t really matter to me whether people post pictures of stews on Instagram or Pinterest, but it does worry me if they stop cooking them. Not because it would be a bad thing, but because it would be a sad thing”.

Personally, I happen to like "brown" food . . .  and this is "brown" food season . . .  these last days of Winter, when we all like to warm the chill off of our bones with a tummy warming soup or stew.  We, here in the North West, have been treated to finger knumbing, bone chilling weather as of late, and I took the opportunity today to fix us a delicious Beef & Vegetable Soup, which . . .  whilst not totally visually appealing, was mighty tasty, and fulfilled the main purpose of a hearty bowl of soup in that it both warmed us up and filled our bellies beautifully!

I think I have shared with you before that my mother was a "Master" at creating wonderful soups.  Everything I know about making a good soup, I learned at her knee.  I don't think we ever had a roast dinner the whole time I was growing up that wasn't followed in the days afterwards by a steaming hot and delicious potage!  She used to make huge potful's and our home freezer always had several large plastic ice-cream buckets filled with the fruits of her labours, at the ready when they needed to be.

That is not to say that every soup you make needs to begin with the leftover bones or scraps from a roast dinner . . .  sometimes you can make a really tasty soup with nothing but what you happen to have in your refrigerator.  One thing you do need however is a good stock to build upon. This is the critical basis of any good soup. If you make it a habit to keep really great basic stocks and broths in the freezer you will never be very far from a tasty bowl full of heart and soul warming soup.

For this soup today I used mainly some good beef stock that I had frozen, (you can use cubes in a pinch and it will still be okay), a piece of good lean rump steak, and the vegetables that I found in my refrigerator's vegetable bin . . .  carrots, parsnips, turnips, cabbage and of course onions (which I do not keep in my fridge, but in a net basket beneath the stairs, in the dark.)

I had been going to also throw in a handful of barley, but once I got all the vegetables into the pot, there was very little or no room.  You certainly could add some barley if you wanted to, but it really wasn't necessary.

I used a savoy cabbage, about six of the bigger, larger outer leaves, that some might be tempted to throw away, but really . . . .  the greener the leaf the higher the nutritional value, and in a soup, they work perfectly.  Washed really well, and trimmed of any tougher stems, I simply shredded them into large shreds crosswise  I think any cabbage would work, but visually you will have a nicer looking, more interesting soup with the savoy.

I added a splash of tomato ketchup because I like the slight sweet/spicy note that it adds to any soup or stew. It also adds an additional bit of colour to the soup and renders it less transparent and more full bodied.  Todd loves pureed soups, but I like my soups filled with lots of lovely texture and chunks.  We differ somewhat in that respect and that's okay.  There is a time for smooth . . . and there is a time for texture, and to my mind when you are making a soup such as this Beef & Vegetable Soup, you want texture.  It went down a real treat.

*Beef & Vegetable Soup*
Serves 6
Healthy and delicious.  Very simple to make and containing several of your five a day. You can serve with a crusty roll or some seeded crackers. 

2 TBS light olive oil
1 large brown onion, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 large stick celery, trimmed and chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1 white turnip (about the size of a small ball) peeled and chopped
6 largish leaves from a savoy cabbage, trimmed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 pound beef rump steak, trimmed of all fat and then thinly sliced crosswise,
then slice the slices in half again.
7 cups good beef stock
several small sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 TBS dried parsley
1/2 tsp each garlic and onion powders (not salts)
fine sea salt and coarse black pepper to taste
1 TBS tomato ketchup 

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the beef, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown nicely.  Add the onions, carrots, celery, parsnip and turnips.  Cook and sweat over medium low heat for about 5 minutes or so, then stir in the garlic.  Cook, stirring until quite fragrant.  Add the beef stock, sliced cabbage, sprigs of thyme, bayleaf, parsley, garlic and onion powders and tomato ketchup.  Bring to the boil, then reduce to a very slow simmer, cover tightly and cook on low for 40 to 45 minutes, at which time the vegetables will all be nicely soft and the beef very tender.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Serve hot.

Note - feel free to add a small handful of pearl barley to this if you wish.  Add when you add the stock.  Cook for 45 minutes, until everything is tender.

Back home if you order soup when you are in a restaurant you will more often than not be presented with a bread basket containing a few rolls, and a variety of crackers.  Todd is a roll or a bread person. Mom always served our soups with crackers and that is still how I prefer to enjoy them for the most part.  This was really, really good, very healthy, and I had the added bonus of some leftovers to freeze and enjoy at a later date.  Bon Appetit! 


  1. Love soups like this..and you photographed it perfectly!

    1. Thanks so much Monique, from you I will take that as a real compliment! You are the master photographer! xo

  2. I have never given any thought to the color brown regarding food, i suppose we eat a lot of brown food lol, soups and stews are a mainstay here lol,, this soup looks amazing, the broth you achieved is wonderful, I can only imagine the taste of it,, I think my Northern Canadian is showing lol in winter and fall its soup and stew, in spring its lighter soups and stews summer is the only time we set aside the soup stew pot lol,,

    1. I like soup anytime Laurie. I don’t like cold soups so in the summer soups get shelved here also. I do love a good salad! Xo

  3. I hadn't thought about it but she's right. Although your photographs do look mighty nice! And I love brown food, too. Maybe a stew would be good this weekend!

    1. Thanks very much Jeanie! I love a good stew. I need to get me some lamb or beef to do one soon! xo

  4. Brown background with lots of color from wonderful vegetables. It looks yummy.

  5. Made this soup on Thursday and had it with bread rolls. We had the second half as a stew on Friday, thickened with a bit of cornflour, and served with mashed potatoes and green veg. Lovely!

    1. Oh, I am so very pleased it was enjoyed Sara, and I love your idea for the leftovers! Thanks so much for sharing! Yum! xo


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