This comforting family soup recipe will satisfy everyone at the table (don't forget the cornbread!)

Soothing, warm and filling, this soup is exactly what you want to come home to at the end of the day

By Bibi Hutchings


Published October 26, 2023 3:30PM (EDT)

Vegetable Soup (Getty Images/Marieclaudelapointe)
Vegetable Soup (Getty Images/Marieclaudelapointe)

I think in today’s world, or even by the time I was a young adult, my mom’s Vegetable Soup would be renamed to make two things clear: It is NOT a vegetarian soup and also not a soupy-soup. It is rather more substantial — thicker and heartier, like a stew — cooked low and slow, with chunks of seared stew meat that fall apart in the best way while it simmers.

Once you try it, I think you will agree that it is absolutely the best of its kind.  

You may be surprised by the minimal seasonings and overall simplicity of the recipe, but trust me, all you need is what is listed . . . nothing more. At the risk of being pushy, however, you really must serve it with cornbread. I have honestly never eaten it, or served it, without a skillet of piping hot cornbread alongside. I believe it is the perfect complement.   

Mom’s original recipe is foolproof and requires very little hands-on time, especially if you purchase beef already cut for stew. Over many, many years of trying (and failing), I have finally created a vegetarian version that I am proud of and am including it as well. It has more seasonings (to make up for the loss of flavor when you take away the meat and broth), but it, too, is quick to pull together. 

The tomato base of this soup is not tangy or acidic; instead, it is mellow with a wonderful depth thanks to all the flavors coming together as it simmers. Until recently, I had been unsuccessful at creating this most important element in my vegetarian version, but I figured it out! I think you will be surprised at the two ingredients that finally made it work if you decide to go sans meat when you make this most gratifying soup.

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Regardless of which version you make, you and your family (young and old) will be so happy! Despite having no cheese, pasta, cream or butter, this soup is a full-on comfort meal. Plus, it is packed with nutrition. From the vitamin and lycopene-rich tomatoes to all the protein and minerals from the butter beans alone, you will get a lot of what you need from just one bowl.

Best of all, it will be appreciated by all. I am sure of it.   

Mom’s Vegetable Soup (original recipe)
8 to 10 servings
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
2 hours


Pre-cut stew beef cubes or a small roast cut into pieces


Black pepper

Garlic powder

Enough flour to coat meat

4 to 6 carrots, peeled and cut large

2 medium onions, chopped

1 bag frozen butter beans

1 bag frozen corn

3 to 4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut large

1 carton beef broth or stock or beef bouillon of choice

2 cans tomato paste

1 can tomatoes

1 tablespoon sugar



  1. Season beef pieces with salt, pepper and garlic powder and coat lightly with flour.

  2. Coat heavy bottom skillet/iron skillet with a little oil and brown meat. Set aside and let rest.

  3. Put all of remaining ingredients in soup pot, along with skillet drippings. Add a bit of water or more, if necessary, to just cover vegetables.

  4. Bring to a boil. Add meat. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  5. Reduce to a low-simmer and cook an additional couple of hours.

  6. Serve with cornbread.

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Vegetable soup (Vegetarian version)
8 to 10 servings
Prep Time
15 minutes
Cook Time


In place of beef and beef broth, you will use:

1 container portobello mushrooms 

2 to 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoons paprika, plus more to taste, if desired

1 teaspoon thyme

Hefty shake of celery salt

Pinch of sugar

Dried parsley


Flour of choice (I like sorghum)

Olive, avocado or oil of choice

1/8 to 1/4 cup strong black coffee

A dash of Bragg’s Aminos, coconut aminos or soy sauce

4 to 6 carrots, peeled and cut into large dice

2 medium onions, chopped

1 bag frozen butter beans

1 bag frozen corn

3 to 4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice

2 cans tomato paste (I use “double concentrate” Pomi brand in a tube, about 2/3 of the tube)

1 can tomatoes (I use Pomi in a carton)

2 to 3 bay leaves


Black pepper



  1. Clean mushrooms and slice in half or quarters if large.

  2. Place mushrooms in a shallow bowl and add seasonings: nutritional yeast, onion power, garlic powder, paprika, thyme, celery salt, dried parsley and a pinch of sugar. Stir gently to coat well. 

  3. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of flour and continue to stir and coat mushrooms. 

  4. In a skillet over medium heat, add about 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil. Once hot but not smoking, add mushroom/flour mixture. Stir constantly and lower the heat.  

  5. Add coffee and and a dash of aminos or soy sauce and cook until pasty and the mushrooms have softened. Taste for salt and other seasonings and adjust. Set aside.

  6. Put onions, carrots, potatoes, butter beans, corn and bay leaves in a soup pot. Add water to just cover vegetables and a little salt.

  7. Bring to a boil. Then add mushrooms and scrape everything from the skillet, making sure all of the browned, seasoned flour goes into the pot. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 30 minutes. Stirring occasionally.

  8. Reduce to low-simmer and cook an additional couple of hours. Because you are not using bouillon or packaged broth, you will most likely have to add additional salt. 

  9. Serve with cornbread.

Cook's Notes

-The vegetarian version of this recipe has taken me years and years to figure out. You can use it as written, but if you have a faux-beef broth or bouillon you like, feel free to use it in place of the water and reduce the other salt/salty ingredients called for.

However, you will still need to add the following to create the depth of flavor that will still be missing:

  • Mushrooms, mushroom powder or the liquid from reconstituted dried mushrooms
  • Brewed coffee
  • You will also need to add the seasoned “roux” (the browned flour and oil) to give the soup the right thickness.

-What is nutritional yeast? Also known as nooch, nutritional yeast is a deactivated type of yeast that is sold as a food product. It has been popular in the vegetarian/vegan community for as long as I can remember because it is a “complete protein,” it can be a source of vitamin B12 (in most instances) and it naturally tastes like cheese (if you add a little salt to it.)

By Bibi Hutchings

Bibi Hutchings, a lifelong Southerner, lives along a quiet coastal Alabama bay with her cat, Zulu, and husband, Tom. She writes about the magical way food evokes memories, instantly bringing you back to the people, places and experiences of your life. Her stories take you all around the South and are accompanied with tried-and-true recipes that are destined to become a part of your memory-making as you share them with your friends and family.         

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