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Beef Vegetable Soup and Homemade Rolls

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Now that the days are shorter, the nights longer and the weather is cooler, nothing can warm you up like a bowl of homemade soup. I have several soup recipes that I use but the one that seems to be my family favorite is my beef vegetable soup. It’s my favorite because it lets me use all the wonderful vegetables that I had canned or put into the freezer during the summer months.

I consider myself very lucky to have a husband and children who love vegetables and never complain about what I make them for dinner. My husband always said, “Why go out for dinner when we can get a better meal at home?” That is a great and appreciated compliment from him. 

When my girls were little, I always tried to make dinner a family affair. I would sit my girls on the counter next to the stove to help me prepare the family meal. Yes, with the stove on, they learned what hot was right away. I would give them the wooden spoon and put them in charge of stirring whatever it was we were making. We would talk about the colors of the vegetables and count how many different vegetables we were putting in the soup. They would be inquisitive about herbs and spices and wanted or taste them, so it gave us the opportunity to experiment and cook dinner at the same time. I was a working mom and felt that I didn’t have enough time with my girls; I had that guilty mom voice in my head, the little one that nags you about everything you do in life. To keep myself sane, I calmed that little annoying voice in my head by trying to include my girls in the preparation of the family meals. Family meals were important to me because of all the time we were apart during each day. Ask my girls today and they will tell you that I only had one real rule and that was we all ate dinner together. It was our family time to reflect on the day. By the time my girls were in high school they could cook a dinner or at least start it before I got home from work, so that little nagging voice turned into a big time-saver for me when they got older. It also produced two great cooks. The only thing that hasn’t changed is when we are all together, dinner is still eaten at the kitchen table.

Years ago, I would start my soup with stew meat or round steak that I would cut into one-and-a-half to two-inch pieces. Stew meat is already cut into chunks, but I still cut each of those pieces in half before cooking. When we started our catering business, one of the things we were well known for was our barbecued marinated tri tip. It was rich with beef flavor and seasonings with some lemon juice for tenderizing. Sometimes we would have a whole unsliced tri tip left over; we would bring it home and I would freeze it in a zip lock bag. These were marinated and cooked, so it cut down the time needed to get a pot of soup started for dinner. I would bring out a frozen tri tip in the morning and by the time I got home from work it would be ready to be cut into chunks so I could start dinner. This step saved time and was very convenient for making my soup. We no longer cater but I still have my husband cook an extra tri tip every so often so I can freeze it and be ready for making this scrumptious dinner. Whatever you choose, whether it’s leftovers or a fresh package of stew meat, this soup will be a winner for dinner tonight.

You will need a Dutch oven with a heavy bottom. Make sure you have stew meat or round steak ready for the base of your soup. If you’re using a leftover piece of meat, cut it into pieces and start as if you have already browned the meat. Check your cupboard, refrigerator and freezer to see what you have to use for vegetables. Some of my favorite items are my homemade stewed tomatoes, frozen corn, green beans and zucchini. Let’s put it all together and be prepared for a fantastic soup.

Beef Vegetable Soup

2 lbs. stew meat, cut in 1½-inch pieces
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
3 carrots, sliced in rings
5 stalks of celery, sliced
6 medium red potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 large can stew tomatoes
1 48-oz. beef broth
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen green beans
1 cup zucchini (optional)

After you have cut the stew meat into 1½-inch pieces, salt and pepper the meat. Place the meat a zip lock bag and add the flour. Close the bag and shake, covering the meat pieces with flour; set aside. In the Dutch oven, heat the oil. Place each piece of meat into the hot oil. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, flipping, cooking another 2 to 3 minutes until the meat browns on all sides. Once the meat is browned, add onions, carrots, garlic and celery cook for 4 more minutes, stirring until the onions become translucent and the celery and carrot start to soften. Add beef broth, Italian seasoning, stewed tomatoes and potatoes. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Add the remaining vegetables and cook until tender, about 30 minutes.   

This soup is great the next day when the flavors have had time to marry and the richness of the broth thickens a bit. This soup is easily frozen for later use, but I’ll bet that it won’t ever make it to the freezer. The family will devour the entire pot.

This soup is best served with French bread or my quick dinner rolls, which take only an hour to make. These rolls are great with soups or for your upcoming Thanksgiving dinner. They are made with instant yeast, which rises faster than regular yeast. I was surprised when I first made these to see how close they were to tasting like my original bread recipe.

One Hour Dinner Rolls

1/2 cup warm water
1½ tablespoon instant yeast
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3 cups flour

In a large bowl, combine warm water, yeast, buttermilk, oil and sugar. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes or until bubbly or until the yeast starts working. Add the salt and egg with 2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough flour to make a soft smooth dough. Let the dough rest again for 5 minutes. This lets the gluten in the flour start to work. Form 12 rolls by shaping the dough into balls. Place the dough balls into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350 degrees. When the dough has doubled in size, remove the plastic wrap and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and brush with softened butter while still hot.  

This combination of tender beef and soft vegetables in a delicious rich broth and warm butter rolls that practically melt in your mouth is sure to become one of your new family favorites to warm you up on a cold night. From my recipe card box, I hope, to yours.