Mom’s Vegetable and Ground Beef Soup Non-Recipe Recipe

Mom made a vegetable and ground beef soup for as long as I can remember. It’s one of the few things I’d cook for myself when I moved out, even though I’m not much of a cook. I tweaked her recipe a bit, but even she said her recipe wasn’t really a recipe so much as an outline. I made a batch tonight. I tweeted a picture of it and was asked about the recipe. So, here it is.

As you can see, I’m not a fan of brothy type soups, so this is more chunky than soupy. You can adjust everything according to your preferences.

Ingredients & Prep

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3-4 potatoes
  • some carrots
  • canned tomatoes (whole, diced, or petite diced). Mom used a can of whole tomatoes and an equal amount of water. I use two cans of diced tomatoes.
  • other vegetables such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, yellow squash, and/or green beans.
  • extra bits like canned black beans (rinsed and drained), canned corn (rinsed and drained), frozen corn, frozen peas, and/or frozen lima beans
  • salt, pepper, and maybe basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, and bay leaves

Cut the vegetables to appropriate sizes for soup. For the onion, I dice part of it and cut part of it into very large pieces. I enjoy cooked onion, but my husband sometimes prefers to pick them out of things, so leaving them large helps with that.


  • Brown the ground beef. I cook the diced onion with the beef to add some good flavor to the beef. Add salt and pepper. Drain off excess fat.
  • Add the chunks of potatoes, onions, carrots, and anything else you have that will take a long time to cook.
  • Add canned tomatoes (and water if you’re using it). The liquid should cover most of the meat and veggies.
  • Season
  • Cover and let cook for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are starting to get tender
  • Add the next round of vegetables that take less time to cook, such as zucchini, yellow squash, and green beans
  • Season
  • Cover and let cook
  • When everything is cooked to your liking (not too crunchy, not too mushy — these are technical terms), add the extra bits. Lima beans will take a few minutes to heat through. Canned black beans, canned corn, and frozen peas or corn will not take as long.
  • Check once more for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  • Eat.

As I said, this is not really a recipe but more than an outline. Try it a few times and take notes about what you like and what you don’t. After a few tries, you’ll have found a recipe that you like and can make over and over without having to put much thought into it.

Tonight I used 1 lb of ground beef, about one medium onion, 4 red potatoes, however many carrots my husband chopped up (probably about the same amount as the potatoes), one zucchini, one yellow squash, a handful of fresh green beans, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 1 can of black beans, 1 can of corn, and salt, pepper, basil, thyme, and 2 bay leaves.