Farm Country Vegetable Beef Soup

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

In his James Beard’s American Cookery—which I have a 1972 copy of, published by Little, Brown—Beard titles my inspiration for this soup “A Hearty Main-Dish Soup,” noting that it is typical of the soups served in the farm country “when stockpots were kept going on the back of the stove and when one’s own garden provided vegetables in late summer and fall:”. Like many of the recipes he published, you got the idea that this soup was more of a blueprint than something written in stone, which has always been something I liked about his recipes. In that spirit, think of this list of vegetables as a suggestion and add whatever else you might like or have on hand. In Beard’s original recipe, he doesn’t even bother to sauté the vegetables, he just throws everything in the pot and brings it to a boil. I sauté them briefly, both out of habit and to speed the cooking along.

Makes6 to 7 servings

Cooking Methodsauteeing



Total Timeunder 1 hour

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Textureherby, salty, savory

Type of Dishhot soup, soup


  • 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium-size onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 medium-size carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and diced
  • Handful green beans, ends trimmed chopped
  • 1 large all-purpose potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups cored and thinly sliced green cabbage
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or ½ teaspoon dried
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup diced cooked beef (optional)
  • ¾ cup elbow macaroni or small shells


  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over fairly high heat. Add all of the vegetables and the garlic, and cook, stirring often, for 4 to 5 minutes.

  2. Add the stock, thyme, salt, pepper, and beef, if using, to the pot. Bring the soup a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are just barely tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Taste, adding more salt and pepper if desired.

  3. Add the macaroni or shells to the soup and continue to cook a few more minutes, until the pasta is tender. Serve piping hot.


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