Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Favorite Hamburger Soup

A cafeteria lunchroom favorite, this soup from days long gone by and my all time favorite, made with a tomato and beef broth base, ground beef, a mixture of veggies and seasonings, and flavor boosters - all pantry staples. Make a double batch because this freezes nicely.

My Favorite Hamburger Soup

I love all kinds of soups, but this soup, made with ground beef, has been in my recipe box for years and is hands down my most favorite soup. If you are anywhere near my age, you probably remember something similar to this from school days of years past, when meals were homemade from scratch and we kids actually looked forward to what was for lunch that day, from the first aroma of it wafting through the school hallways.

Mama was a cafeteria lady at my elementary school where, because she had to go in so early, I got my first training as a sous chef back then in first grade, helping to punch milk cartons, push dishes into the big dishwashers and butter those wonderful homemade rolls when they came out of the oven. Oh but what I wouldn't give to have that exact roll recipe - they were the best! Trust me, I've tried a bunch. Not a one has been right.

Hamburger Soup is a basic beef broth and tomato base, mixed with a mirepoix of veggies and then really, whatever other vegetables you have on hand - corn, green beans, peas, whatever is in the pantry. I like to keep a container of tail-end veggies that are leftover from meals in the freezer - you know those couple of tablespoons that always seem to be left behind? I just continually top off the freezer container with leftover veggies and then when it comes time for soup, I just dump it in!

The addition of pantry staples - a good beef base like Better Than Bouillon, a bit of Worcestershire sauce and some Kitchen Bouquet - all help to add a fantastic richness to the soup. Add a few flavorful herbs and you have a soup that is simple and comes together quick, yet is loaded with flavor and tastes like you simmered it literally all day long. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Recipe: Mary’s Favorite Hamburger Soup

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 5 min |Cook time: 40 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 cup of chopped or sliced carrots
  • 1-1/2 cups of chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup of chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1-1/4 pounds of ground beef
  • 2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced or stewed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups of beef stock or broth
  • 4 teaspoons beef base, like Better Than Bouillon
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Splash Kitchen Bouquet, optional
  • 2 to 4 cups of frozen, canned and drained, or leftover mixed vegetables
  • Egg noodles or other medium cut pasta, cooked
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, for garnish, optional
  • Dried parsley flakes, for garnish, optional

In a large soup pot, sauté the carrots, onion, celery and garlic in oil over medium high until veggies soften. Add the ground beef and cook through; drain off any excess fat, if needed.

Add the tomatoes, along with the juice, salt, both peppers, basil, and oregano; cook and stir over medium high, about 5 minutes. Add the water, stock, beef base, Worcestershire and Kitchen Bouquet, if using. Increase to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vegetables, bring back up to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and continue to cook until veggies are cooked or warmed through. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Soup can be served at this point, or reduce heat to low and let it slow simmer an hour or more, stirring occasionally, until you are ready to eat! Cook egg noodles, or your favorite pasta separately, according to package directions; drain. Spoon noodles into soup bowls, ladle soup over top of noodles and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with homemade bread, or crusty rolls.

Crockpot: Sauté veggies, brown and drain ground beef, transfer to slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients (except for noodles and garnishes) down to the veggies, cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

Tip: You can save leftover bits and pieces of vegetables from meals in a small container in the freezer. As you have leftover veggies, continue layering them into the container. This works perfect for soups like this!


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on November 19, 2008

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  1. try a jar or two (depending on how much y'all are making) of Hernadez salsa for an extra kick.

  2. We love all kinds of soup too! But this one is very similar to one that we called "bear" soup when I was growing up. I think the name came from the story of the 3 Bears but I have no idea. The only difference is we had macaroni noodles instead of egg noodles.

    1. That's interesting! I don't know why I have always used egg noodles for this soup but really any pasta would work just fine.

  3. I love this soup, I grew up on it . very comfy food for sure. just add a slice of cornbread in it and you got the perfect soup. Jeanette detert

  4. Hey Jeanette - it's an oldie but goodie isn't it?!

  5. This was delicious! Even my picky eaters loved it. I used macaroni because I know they like it then added some zucchini, french style green beans, peas and carrots. I did everything else like the recipe. Thanks for great recipes.

  6. You're welcome Dawn - glad everybody enjoyed it! Thanks for taking the time to come back and let me know!

  7. I made this for dinner tonight with a big iron skillet of cornbread. Yum, it was an immediate success...hoped to have leftovers but afraid it was all eaten. My family and friends LOVED it. Thanks so much for the recipes.

  8. You're welcome Becky - so glad everybody enjoyed it! It's been a favorite of mine for many years and is regular in our rotation. Thanks so much for taking the time to come back and let me know your friends and family enjoyed the soup! Happy Holidays!!

  9. I make pretty much the same exact soup, but I used cubed potatoes rather than noodles... So simple, but sooo good:)

  10. My husband absolutely love this recipe. I am on bathch #3 in a weeks time.

  11. I love this soup, but I usually chop up a small head of cabbage and add it. Taste's great.

  12. My daughter is on her usual pre-Christmas diet and I made this yesterday, without the noodles.. It was so good, I didn't even bother freezing the leftovers. Tonight I added another can of low sodium broth and it was even better than yesterday. Thanks.

    1. You're so welcome! I just love this soup too & mine never makes it to the freezer. I just eat on it till it's gone! I'm so glad y'all enjoyed it too & thanks so much for taking the time to stop back by to let me know. I really appreciate that!

  13. Making this again tonight. I'm using a small can of hot and spicy v-8 in place of one can of tomatoes.

  14. I'm making this tonight. Last time I used a small can of hot and spicy v-8 in place of one of the cans of tomatoes. Yum!

  15. We love this soup, I always add a couple teaspoons of light brown sugar, I learned this when I substituted in the lunch room cafeteria years ago. One of those old ladies added brown sugar to just about everything she cooked!

  16. Making this for the first time this season - I see it was Dec.3, 2013 when I made it last year. Going to use the V-8 juice and a spoon of brown sugar - suggested since I last made it. Thanks to Mary and all you great cooks. Happy Holidays from a Canuck that loves to cook Deep South. Cameo50

  17. I live in UT....but love southern foods. I LOVE your website and recipes! Thank you!

  18. Thank you Mary for sharing YOUR FAVORITE soup with me!!

    My step-mother and I recently talked about how much we enjoyed the meals we ate in elementary school. I don't know when they changed them (or why) but I'm glad they were good when I was going to school.

    This recipe sounds VERY GOOD because I like all the ingredients called for. I've never used Kitchen Bouquet though. Do you think it adds to it? If so, I'll try it. Also, I can't help myself...I will probably add Spicy Hot V-8. I like to use it in place of some of the water when I make hamburger soup. I made your Chili and it was delicious!! Looking forward to making this! Pinning it!!

    Thank you for the tip about freezing left overs. I'll choose a container and start doing that!

    1. It's been years but back in my day, school lunches were all home made and they were good!!

      You can leave out the KB unless it's something that you keep on hand. We use it a lot down here in soups, stews, gumbo, gravy etc that it's pretty much a kitchen staple. It adds a little color & bit of depth of flavor but it's still good without it! Please let me know what you think Kim!

    2. Hi Mary, I know I let you know on FB that I tried this soup and loved it but I thought I'd mention it here for anyone thinking of making it.

      With this soup you have left it up to us to "make it our own" by adding the 2 to 4 cups of frozen, canned and drained or leftover mixed vegetables.
      I added 1 can green beans, 1 can corn and 2 cups diced potatoes. Then I realized I had a little bit of cabbage left so I cut it up and threw it in too. The store was sold out of KB so I just skipped that but I do plan to get some and try using it. I remember my mother having it in the pantry but I don't remember how it tasted.

      I am the one who found SLAP YA MAMA at WalMart and got all kiddy over it. Caught a few stares as I cried out OMG...SLAP YA MAMA and grabbed it up!!!!

      I will be making this again! I pinned it to my TRIED IT & LIKED IT board!!

      Keep em' coming!!!!!

    3. Thanks Kim & you probably had a few people curious & bet they went over to pick it up too thinking "I'll have what she's having' lol!!

  19. Mary, I love this and make it when I’m in the mood for some Italian Wedding Soup, but am too lazy to make the little meatballs. I use a frozen vegetable medley, toward the end, rather then canned. It’s a texture thing. I also use Ditalini pasta, the same as in wedding soup.
    I like your instruction pertaining to cooking the pasta, or whatever, separately. So many times I see, even some so called professionals, instructing people to cook pasta, noodles or rice in with the dish. That throws an extreme variable into the dish. Not only screwing up the timing, but they absorb moisture at extremely different rates. And putting these ingredients into a tomato based sauce, can quickly turn it into an unappetizing tomato paste. Trust me, I’ve suffered a number of those “D’oh” moments.
    God bless.

    1. Yeah, I like to retain the texture of the noodles too which is why I do that.

  20. I love this mommas secret ingredients were hominy and the juice of a lemon.

    1. That's certainly different & interesting AmberDawn! Thanks for sharing!!

  21. I made this tonight by the recipe. I even doubled it. I did add cooked elbow pasta at the end. It was great! This recipe is a keeper for me.

  22. I was just looking for a yummy hamburger soup and your recipe came up in my newsfeed! So excited to make it! Nettie


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