Have you ever made something that tastes waaaaay better than it looks? You know, when you have to bribe people just to try. Then when they love it you have to bite your tongue from saying, “I TOLD YOU SO!”. This soup is kinda my ‘I told you so’. Veggie soups can be so bland but this hearty Midwest vegetable stew is far from it. You won’t believe a few key ingredients that blows this traditional soup out of the water.
Ok so I admit this isn’t my recipe. It’s my mom’s. But moms never say, “I told you so”, they just say, “of course you can take my recipe and claim it as your own because I’m a mom, and that means I’m selfless”. And while that’s awesome when you are the kid, it sometimes blows when you are the mom. I love my son to the moon and back, but when I can’t go #2 without him clawing at the bathroom door, sometimes I yearn for my old selfish days. *Note to my future self – never talk about #2 in a post featuring food. Moving on….
So we’ve established that moms are selfless. Vegetables can also be selfless. There isn’t one single ingredient in this homestyle soup that overpowers the other. We could all learn a thing or two from vegetables.
But then there is always the star of the show. Kind of like the favorite child mom never admits to having (I only have one kid, so I’m safe saying that for now). There are two unconventional ingredient ‘stars’ that you absolutely cannot skip. If you want the BEST broth base for this stew, just follow the directions. TRUST ME.
Drumroll please. The stars of this ‘I-told-you-so, hearty, famous-mom-soup” are….pickling spice and beef soup bones! Absolutely clutch. Here’s why…
As great and selfless and colorful as vegetables are, let’s be real – they are just vegetables. It’s not like they have magical flavor powers that knock you off your feet. So while veggie soup can be warm and good and all that jazz, if the broth is not bomb dot comb, it’s basically like eating soft veggies in water. Broth = life. Can I get an amen?
By adding pickling spice and beef soup bones to the water in this soup, I can say with complete confidence that it may be the best, most flavorful, most crave-worthy vegetable stew you’ve ever had in your life. If you’re reading this wondering what the heck pickling spice is, let me explain.
Pickling spice can be found at any grocery store in the dried herbs and spices section. Literally look for ‘pickling spice’. Nothing crazy or DIY peeps. I like easy.
Don’t be skeptical about the flavor of this soup based on the photos. After one spoonful, you’ll never go back to the canned store-bought stuff, or your old ‘vegetables with boxed broth’ soup ever again. Plus it’s approved by Midwesterners (hence the name). You know it has to be good when hard-working folks that battle sub-zero temps give this meal the thumbs up!
To start, fill a large stockpot with 5 quartz water. Submerge your raw soup bones (you can buy soup bones at most grocery stores) and add the diced onion, herbs, bay leaves, and spices. My trick for adding the pickling spice is to pour them in the center of a coffee filter, fold up the sides of the filter, and secure tightly with a wire bread tie (or steal a few ties from the grocery store by the plastic product bags). I like to secure mine to the side of the pot so it’s easy to take out before serving. You could also use a tea infuser.
Bring the water to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Continue simmering for four to five hours.
One to two hours before serving, add the the potatoes, carrots, kale, tomatoes, and cabbage. Continue simmering until the vegetables are soft. Remove the soup bones, pickling spices, and bay leaves. If there are meat on the bones, you can shred and add to the soup if desired.
I love making this soup on a cold Sunday when the only thing on the agenda is watching movies and filling the house with the smell of mom’s classic recipe. It’s packed full of vitamins and minerals, is paleo, and Whole30 compliant. Just set and forget this meal on your stovetop and wait for the dinner magic to happen!
Time Saver Tip
Cut the carrots, cabbage, and onions beforehand and store in the refrigerator. You can also cut the potatoes, but make sure you submerge in a bowl of water to store (in order to avoid browning). This recipe will likely yield leftovers which are even BETTER the next day!
- 5 quartz or 20 cups of water
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 2 teaspoons celery salt
- 3 tablespoons pickling spice
- 5-6 sprigs of fresh dill
- 2 pounds beef soup bones
- 4-5 medium russet potatoes
- 4 cups chopped carrots
- ¼ head of cabbage, or one small bag, shredded
- 2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes, drained
- 2 cups chopped kale
- Fill a large stockpot with 5 quartz (or about 20 cups) of water. Add the diced onions, bay leaves, spices, dill sprigs, and raw soup bones. Make sure the pickling spices are enclosed in a sealed coffee filter or tea infuser.
- Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer on the stovetop for 4-5 hours.
- Add the potatoes, carrots, cabbage, diced tomatoes, and kale to the broth. Let cook an additional 1-2 hours.
- Before serving, remove the soup bones, bay leaves, and pickling spices. As an option, you can shred any meat off the soup bones if there is any. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.