Many years ago, when I still lived in Maryland, my parents and I used to frequent a lot of craft shows, festivals, and the like. One of our favorite shows was the annual fall festival in Thurmont, MD. Invariably the weather would be cool and brisk, and there’d always be some vendor who was smart enough to serve a phenomenal beef vegetable soup.
Then I discovered that one of my co-workers, Liz Smith (are you out there, Liz?) regularly made this soup up at her farm in West Virginia. She had a big garden and did lots of canning, so she always made huge quantities of this soup. But she used a pressure cooker to cook the beef, and that always intimidated me, so I never got around to making it.
Years passed. I moved to California and lost touch with Liz (although thankfully I have reconnected with many of my other old buddies from the National Agricultural Library). And as I’ve become increasingly adventurous with cooking, I decided to see if I could recreate this soup – a dish I hadn’t tasted in over 30 years. I am convinced, however, that there is a distinct connect between taste buds and memories, and figured this would be a reasonable experiment. So I dug out Liz’s recipe and made some modifications. Here’s what I started with:
And then there was the beef…
The first potential problem was cooking the beef. I still didn’t have (or want) a pressure cooker, so I seasoned the beef with salt and pepper, and then opted to brown the chuck roast in a big pot and then finish cooking it in the oven. Liz’s recipe cooked the chuck roast in a cup of water with a bouillon cube; I opted for a can of consomme and about a half a can of water.
While the beef was cooking, I started prepping and assembling all of the veggies. Liz’s recipe called for quantities like “quarts of tomatoes” and “quarts of green beans.” I didn’t have any of that. So I took some wild guesses and started throwing ingredients together.
Once the beef was cooked, I took it out to rest for a few minutes on a cutting board. Then I skimmed off the surface fat from the broth.
Next, I chopped any veggies that needed to be chopped, and then added them to the broth.
Then came all of the veggies.
Next, I cut the beef into small pieces and added them back into the broth along with the remaining seasonings.
Oops! This pot wouldn’t hold everything AND the remaining liquid (still to be added)…how about another pot?
Much better! Finally, I added the tomato juice and mixed everything together.
Yup, that fit a LOT better!
I brought it all to a boil, and then let it simmer for an hour (it’s done once the potatoes are tender).
Liz and the various festival vendors always added some sort of noodles (e.g. elbow macaroni) to the mix at the end, but I decided to leave it out. I like it both ways.
Served with some crusty bread, it makes a great meal on a sloppy winter’s day.
- 2 lb. chuck roast
- 1 can consomme
- ½ can water
- 1 package frozen green beans
- 1 package frozen corn
- 1 package frozen peas
- 4 handfuls baby carrots, sliced
- 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- tomato juice
- 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
- handful of dried parsley
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 can lima beans, drained
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 cups elbow macaroni noodles, cooked (optional)
- Brown chuck roast in 2 TBSP oil in a dutch oven. Add consomme and water. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours, or until tender. Remove beef from broth, skim fat from surface. Chop/shred beef, return to pot.
- Add remaining ingredients to the pot.
- Bring to boil, then turn down heat and simmer for an hour or until potatoes are tender.
- Optional: add cooked noodles at the end of cooking time.