When you make your own soup, you take control of the sodium, fat and overall nutrition of the finished product. Make the soup in a crock pot and take control of the timing for the hearty comfort food, as well. With a few moments prep time, a combination of lean beef, fresh veggies and light seasoning becomes a make-it-and-forget-it shortcut to a satisfying meal. Suitable for a gluten-free eating style, slow-cooked vegetable beef soup may be customized for your family's taste preferences by including different vegetables and seasonings.
Trim the fat from a lean cut of beef such as eye round or top round roast, or top sirloin steak. Cut the beef into 1/2-inch pieces. Prepare up to 2 cups of beef and place in the crock pot.
Cut 1 cup each of carrots, celery, onion and potato into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces. Place the vegetables in the crock pot along with 1 cup fresh or frozen green beans and 1 cup frozen or canned corn kernels. Add a can of low-sodium stewed or chopped tomatoes, if desired.
Pour 1 to 2 cups of beef stock or beef broth into the pot. Add enough water to fill the crock pot half full.
Drop one bay leaf, a sprig of thyme, a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs, or a tablespoon of fresh chopped herbs into the pot. If you use salt, add no more than a teaspoon as flavors will concentrate during the cooking process.
Turn the crock pot on to its highest setting to facilitate bringing the temperature up to safe cooking levels for the meat. After an hour, turn the setting down to medium or low and allow to slow-cook for up to eight hours before serving.
Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems before serving. Add a half-cup of pearl barley or brown rice, plus an extra cup of hot water, to the crock pot two hours before serving. Turn your soup into an Italian-inspired dish by substituting a dried Italian seasoning for the mixed herbs, adding a can of cannelloni beans and a cup of chopped kale or spinach to the soup an hour before serving.
Wash your hands, the counter or cutting board, and all utensils that come into contact with raw beef, with hot, soapy water to prevent foodborne illness. Check the label on prepared beef stock or broth for salt content if you are on a sodium-restricted diet. Use homemade, if possible, or no-sodium packaged broth and increase the amount of herbs to add flavor to the soup.