Growing up, we went to my Grandmama Newberry’s house about once a month for the weekend. We’d leave right after school and drive the two and a half hours up to Gray, Georgia, where we’d spend the weekend playing with cousins (some of the most amazing fun I had as a kid) and spending time with my mom’s side of the family – which always meant eating delicious food. When we’d arrive Friday evening, there was almost always a pot of vegetable beef soup and cornbread waiting. Grandmama called it “vegetable soup” but I’m going to call it “vegetable beef soup” because there’s always stew beef in it – just wanna be clear.
The soup is very rich in flavor and good for the soul. You have to cook it the way she did, or it won’t taste the same. And that familiar taste is what makes it so great for me.
Grandmama Newberry’s Vegetable Beef Soup
Trim a pound of lean stew beef, chop into bite-sized pieces, season generously with salt and pepper, and brown in a little oil in a big soup pot. Add a diced onion, a 14.5-oz can whole peeled tomatoes chopped by you, a beef bullion cube or two, and water to cover well. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer on low for an hour or until the meat is very tender.
Now you can begin adding vegetables gradually, in order of cooking time. Add about three quarters of a cup (eyeball it) of frozen baby butterbeans first. They’ll need about twenty minutes. Then add two medium diced carrots. Add about half a cup (eyeball it) of frozen corn and four small peeled and diced red potatoes last, after everything is about done. You may need to add a little more water or bullion along the way. Once the potatoes are tender, stir in a tablespoon of butter and the soup is ready.
Serve with cornbread or corn muffins. I prefer slightly sweet, buttery cornbread because that’s how my grandmother and mom usually made it growing up. In fact, I’ve made cornbread from scratch many times but I really prefer this mix. Please don’t tell my husband I said that. He is very loyal to the original Southern way of making cornbread – without sugar!
UPDATE: Grandmama sometimes added okra and a little thinly sliced cabbage, too, I think along with the carrots.