Cold Weather = Crock Pot Vegetable Beef Soup

It’s almost December, and as recent as last week we were having highs in the upper 60’s and 70’s.  Really?!?!  Our winters in southern Missouri are somewhat mild, but this is SO unusual uncharacteristic for this time of year. I have been patiently waiting dieing to make my vegetable beef soup in the crock pot.

There is one thing you should know about me. I am in NO way, shape, manner, or form, a gourmet cook! If a recipe has 10 or more ingredients, I usually won’t even read through the directions. If a recipe has ANY “unusual” or hard-to-find ingredients…YEP!  You guessed it…I don’t bother to read any further.  I’m a no frills, throw-it-together kind of cook.

This past Tuesday the forecast high was barely going to make it to the 40’s.  YES!!  I finally felt like it was “soup” weather.  I had purchased all the needed ingredients over the weekend hoping the long-range forecast was going to be correct.  I had planned Tuesday as the day to kick-start my Christmas shopping (that meant an all-day shopping marathon), so it was the perfect day to have supper ready-to-eat when my husband and I arrived home after a long grueling day.

I thought I’d share my simple, easy to make, can’t fail soup recipe with you.  Here are the ingredients you will need:

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I must admit, over the years, as I’ve purchased new, larger, and better crock pots, I have added more of each ingredient.  So, I don’t follow this recipe exactly.  However, it still turns out good each and every time.

I’ve had this recipe for 37 years.  It came with the very first crock pot we received as a wedding gift.  The crock pot “bit the dust” long ago, but I have kept that little recipe book.  It has held up pretty good for all these years!

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First, I spray my crock pot with Pam (any no-stick vegetable spray will work).  This makes the clean-up so much easier.

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Next I put the beef bouillon (I use the granules instead of the cubes) in the three cups of hot water, so it can dissolve while I’m working.  (Yes, that is a 2 cup measuring cup.  I don’t have a 4 cup measuring cup because I broke it!  lol!  😉  I’ll add another cup of hot water later.)

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Then I trim the fat from the meat and cut it into smaller bite-sized pieces if needed.  Some crock pot recipes tell you to brown the meat before putting it in the crock pot.  To tell you the truth, I’ve tried it both ways.  I couldn’t really tell much difference, so I just throw the meat in without browning it (less work–YES!!).  I would only brown the meat if it had a lot of fat in it (that is unless you like greasy soup) and drain the excess fat off.

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Next I cut up and put in the onion, carrots, celery, and potatoes.  I salt and pepper to taste as I insert ingredients.  Just be careful not to overdo the salt!

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Add the frozen mixed vegetables, hot water with bouillon, can of diced tomatoes, and small can of tomato sauce. DSC01450

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Cover and cook for 10 hours on low (give or take an hour or two – crunchier veggies=less time; softer veggies=more time).  The crock pot I have now has a setting that will start on “High” and automatically switch to “Low” in an hour (or two…I can’t remember because it’s been SO long since I read the manual!).

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When I was working full-time, I would cut up all my vegetables the night before and store in the refrigerator until morning.  That way I would just “throw” everything in when I got up which only took about 5 minutes or so.

I shopped WAY longer than I intended that day, so my husband enjoyed his soup by himself.  He was very understanding, though, because he didn’t have to go Christmas shopping with me!  I had a successful shopping day, and he had a delicious supper.

P.S.  This soup is even better the next day!

INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs. beef shanks, oxtails, short ribs or veal bones (I’ve always just used beef stew meat)

1 can diced tomatoes (1 lb.)              3 stalks celery, sliced

2 carrots, sliced (or baby carrots)   2 onions, sliced (I use one)

2-3 potatoes, diced                             3 cups hot water

1 tsp. salt  (I salt to taste)                 4 peppercorns (reg. pepper works)

3 beef bouillon cubes                         1 pkg. frozen mixed vegetables (10 oz.)

1 small can tomato sauce

DIRECTIONS: 

Put all ingredients in crock pot, cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Serve with crackers or cornbread.  YUMMY!

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