In my ongoing quest to be one of those organized home cooks who doesn’t come home from work late every night and panic about what’s for dinner, I spent several hours yesterday in the kitchen. I decided to plan my meals as soon as I saw the grocery store ads and the coupons, then make two big batches of food for the week.
Knowing that we often get tired of a meal when there are a couple of servings left, I immediately separated out two meals’ worth of each and put them in the freezer for later. How organized is that! I’m still stunned, frankly.
One of the dishes I decided to make was vegetable beef soup. I haven’t made that in soooooo very long, and I noticed that both ground sirloin and shoulder roast were on sale at Kroger yesterday. I find that some folks like to use ground beef for their veg-beef soup while others prefer roast. I won’t turn down either version, but with both being on sale yesterday, I went for the roast, which I cut in small chunks.
Because the second meal I made was a chicken Marsala casserole that required more work, I decided to make the soup in the Crock Pot. But I can rarely follow a Crock Pot recipe to the T, so I adapted this one. And if ever there was a recipe that called for adapting, it’s veg-beef soup.
Instead of water, I used some frozen tomato water that I processed back in the summer when tomatoes were in. I tossed in bits and pieces of several bags of frozen vegetables I had in the freezer, including broccoli, cauliflower, corn and carrots. Because I always liked beans and barley in my veg-beef soup, I added 1/2 cup of SooFoo, which is a blend of lentils, brown rice and hearty grains.
Full disclosure: I received a sample bag of this SooFoo in the mail and would have raved about it on this blog if I hadn’t discovered that it’s mail order only in these parts and is really expensive ($46 for 12 1-lb. bags or $72 for a 25-lb. bag). If you are looking for such a product and don’t mind paying that much, I recommend it. If not, you can just toss in a small handful of barley and lentils when you start your soup in the Crock Pot.
In the end, the soup had a wonderful, hearty flavor and the beef was incredibly tender and yummy. The one problem with Crock Pot vegetable-beef soup is that the vegetables tend to be really mushy if you leave them in the whole time. As a result, if I make it in the Crock Pot again, I will probably make it on a weekend when I am at home and add the vegetables about halfway through the cooking process.
My way of making the soup this weekend is one version in 100. Mushrooms would be good, as would kidney beans. And the seasoning possibilities are endless. I used thyme and a bay leaf, added a tablespoon of ketchup for sweetness and a dash of Srirachi for a little bite, but you can do so much more.
What’s your favorite way to make vegetable-beef soup? I’ll share my recipe below in case anyone is interested. And later this week, I’ll share the recipe for chicken Marsala casserole if anyone would like to see that.
Crock Pot Vegetable Beef Soup
Note: If you are home while this is cooking, you may wish to add vegetables halfway through the cooking process so they don’t turn to mush. Also, in order to make vegetarian soup, substitute vegetable broth for the water, leave out the beef and add some more veggies.
1.5 lb. beef pot roast, cut into small chunks
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large bag frozen mixed vegetables (more or less)
3 cups water or beef broth*
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, juice and all
1/4 cup lentils
1/4 cup barley
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. hot sauce (if desired)
* If using water, also use 8 cubes of beef bouillon, dissolved in some of the water
Salt and pepper to taste (note that bouillon will add some saltiness, so taste before salting)
Stir together all ingredients in a large slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 6 hours.