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Homemade Vegetable Soup: A Nutritious Pot of Love For Your family

Updated on August 22, 2017
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Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes... one ingredient at a time.

I woke up this morning craving the vegetable soup of my childhood.

It was the 1950s. We lived frugally, but I don't think we ever considered ourselves poor. We had a house and clothes to wear. Daddy had a car, and we had nourishing food every evening. Our meals weren't gourmet--they were frugal, but they were homemade and cooked with love. Back then there was no "Hamburger Helper", we hadn't heard of McDonalds, and frozen dinners were still relatively new--and a luxury we really couldn't afford.

Mom never measured her ingredients, so there's no written recipe. But in the afternoon, when I got home from school, I usually sat at the kitchen table puzzling over homework while the evening meal was prepared. I was an inquisitive little kid, and liked to observe what was going on in the kitchen.

As I think back to those days I am amazed at how well Mom did with so little. A pound of beef for stew (which is a cheap, tough cut of meat) was stretched to make several meals for a family of 4. Dried beans were a blessing—a one pound sack of beans today costs only $2.00 (and it was much cheaper 60 years ago). Two pounds of dried beans equal about 2 cups uncooked but expand to 6 cups!

I'm proud of my Mom--her frugal nature gave us wholesome, healthy, natural food to eat and saved us countless dollars.

Cast your vote for Carb Diva's Vegetable Soup

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 2 hours 30 min
Ready in: 3 hours
Yields: 6 servings


  • 1 pound beef for stew
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry navy or white beans
  • 1/2 cup dry red kidney (brown) beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 cup dry lentils
  • 1 medium (about 1 cup) onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small stalk celery (no tops), finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped cabbage or kale, optional
  • 3 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 medium (about 1 cup) potato, diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. In a large stock pot sauté the beef in olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until browned on all sides. Remove from pot and set aside.
  2. In the same pot add white and brown beans and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low. Return sauted beef to pot. Cover and simmer about 2 hours or until beans and beef are tender.
  3. Add lentils, onions, carrots, celery, cabbage or kale, bouillon cubes, tomato sauce, and potatoes.
  4. Cover and simmer until vegetables and lentils are tender (about 20 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste

Why Dried Beans?

There are many reasons to use (and love) dried beans instead of canned. (I'll save the best for last):

Nutritional Value
Beans are high in protein, low in fat, and a great source of soluble fiber. What does that mean? Fiber helps lower your cholesterol--reducing the risk of heart disease and some cancers.

Basic Ingredients (no additives)
Most canned beans are simply beans, water, and salt. But some also contain "extras" such as sugars, and calcium chloride (which keeps the beans firm). Do you really need or want those in your diet?

And (drum roll please)--cost
Anyone who has listened to Dave Ramsey knows that he talks of a "beans and rice, rice and beans" diet. I know that Dave is speaking metaphorically. He means that when times get tough you need to live on the cheap, to recognize the difference between a "want" and a "need". My parents and my husband's parents certainly knew that. They were young adults during the Great Depression of 1929. Canned beans can be found for as little as 2 cans for $1.00 if you are lucky, but dried beans cost even less.

© 2013 Linda Lum


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