Vegetable Beef Soup

I’ve never been one for grand New Year’s resolutions, but I do love a challenge. And after a season of extravagance — extra glasses of wine, treats taunting me from every corner of the house and enough butter-based goodies to open my own shop — it’s time to rein in the extravagance and settle into a healthier routine.

I refuse to diet, but after a season of “more” I can appreciate focusing on the simple nourishment of what I put on the table for myself and my family. So my challenge is to get back to basics: fresh, whole food. I’m weaning off the sugar and remembering that food is fuel. I feel my best, as does my family, when we stick to fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and whole grains.
This soup recipe has been in my family for years. We used to joke that it’s a “detox soup,” and while it doesn’t have the benefits of a “detox,” it will make you feel good from the inside out.

Vegetable & Beef Soup
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 3 carrots, chopped
• 3 stalks celery, chopped
• 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 3 red potatoes, chopped
• 1 head green cabbage, chopped
• 1 28-oz. can organic diced tomatoes
• 1 lb. beef stew meat or round steak, sliced into bite-sized pieces
• 8 cups beef stock (homemade if you can, organic and low-sodium if store-bought)
• Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Chop all the vegetables so they are as uniform in size as possible. The cabbage can be shredded or sliced lengthwise and then chopped into thirds.

In a large oven-safe pot, brown stew meat in ½ tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the meat is seared on all sides. Remove from pot and set aside. Add another ½ tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter to the pot. Sauté onion, carrot and celery for 5 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften and onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute until garlic is fragrant. Salt and pepper vegetable mixture.

Add potatoes, tomatoes and green cabbage. Cook all vegetables for an additional 5 minutes. Mix in stew meat and pour beef stock over the vegetables. Salt and pepper again.

Cover the pot with a lid and put the pot into the oven. Cook for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. When the vegetables and meat are cooked through, take a potato masher and break up the vegetables and meat. (The meat will naturally shred as it cooks, but I prefer the texture of the vegetables all broken up.)

To serve, ladle soup into bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese. Our family likes this soup with a peppery bite, so we add plenty of fresh cracked pepper throughout the cooking process, up to a full tablespoon sometimes. Also, this soup cooks down quite a bit, especially in the oven, so don’t be surprised if you need to add an additional cup or two of stock to thin the soup. Simply add the stock to the pot, taste and add a little salt and pepper if necessary.

*Previously published in The Yakima Magazine

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