This simple hamburger soup is loaded with vegetables and is an incredibly easy weeknight comfort food dinner because more than likely you’ll have all of the ingredients on hand and ready for soup thanks to your pantry, fridge, and/or freezer.
The first time I had this totally solid, totally comforting, hamburger soup was when my mother-in-law made it for a family gathering of which I was not yet part of the family. My husband and I had just started dating and it was dinner at mom’s house and I was invited to go.
No pressure. Nope. None at all.
One of the things I learned that night—along with the fact that as a teen my husband used to wear a nylon over his head so his wet curly hair would dry straight—is that getting friends and family together to share a meal doesn’t have to be over-thought or overdone.
Good food means good times, and that’s really all you need.
How to Make Hamburger Soup
This recipe couldn’t be more basic, which makes it all the better, especially because if you keep a semi-stocked pantry and basically stocked fridge, you’ll have everything at your soup cooking fingertips.
The namesake in this recipe is the centerpiece, good old fashioned ground beef aka hamburger. I use an 85% lean 15% fat ground round but you could always go more lean with the 91% lean 9% fat. Any more fat and you’ll be draining most of it and the flavor from the pan.
Chop your onion and celery in a similar size dice so they cook evenly. I like my carrots big and chunky but if you prefer a more uniform look, you can always dice them smaller too.
For the corn and beans, you can certainly use fresh or canned, but frozen would be perfectly fine too. In fact, you could use all frozen vegetables if you’d like because given that the vegetables are flash frozen, they hold all of their nutritional content just as well as fresh.
Bay leaves and tarragon give the herbed flavor to the soup, along with an herb I feel simply doesn’t get enough attention: marjoram. Similar to oregano, marjoram is more of a floral flavor and not as intense as oregano, and is a delicious accent for vegetables and beef.
Hamburger Soup in the Slow Cooker or Instant Pot Pressure Cooker
While I typically make this soup on the stove top, it can easily be adapted for slow cooker cooking too. Simply brown your beef, onions and celery in a skillet or on the Sauté function of an Instant Pot, then add the rest of the vegetables, herbs, wine and broth and cook for 4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.
For pressure cooker cooking, brown the beef, onions and celery on the Sauté function, place the lid on the Instant Pot and set the vent to the sealed position. Use the manual setting and set a 5 minute cooking time. Allow for a natural pressure release for 10 minutes then vent for quick release.
Variations on Hamburger Soup
Beyond making my Cheeseburger Soup or adding in macaroni to this classic recipe, I don’t think I’ll ever get my husband to switch from this rendition of his favorite soup, but if you’re interested in experimenting, here’s a couple of ideas of where to start.
Switch up the vegetables by mixing and matching any of these ingredients:
- Green beans
- Butternut squash or pumpkin
- Fire-roasted stewed tomatoes
- Spinach or kale
- Bell peppers
Also consider switching up the protein and try these alternatives to ground beef:
- Ground turkey
- Ground bison
- Ground chicken
- Lentils for you non-meat eaters who still crave a bigger bite
This recipe freezes well, making it a natural to make a double batch and freeze half. I freeze my soups in gallon freezer bags, lying them flat so they can be easily stacked when frozen.
- 1½ pound ground beef (I use 85% lean)
- 2 cups diced yellow onion (1 medium)
- 1½ cups chopped celery (about 4 ribs)
- 1½ cups sliced carrots (about 3)
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 14-ounce can corn, drained (or 2 cups frozen or fresh)
- 1 14-ounce can green beans, drained (or 2 cups frozen or fresh)
- 1 cup new potatoes, cut in a large dice
- 2 beef bouillon cubes
- 1 cup red or white wine
- 2 cups water
- 2 quarts beef broth
- 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
- 1 tablespoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- In a large dutch oven over medium high heat, brown the ground beef, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink about 7-8 minutes. Add the diced onion and celery and cook until tender, another 3 minutes or so. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a bubbling simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes or until the carrots are tender and the flavors have combined. Season with more salt and pepper if desired.
More Hearty Soups That Make a Meal
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