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Ground Beef Vegetable Soup

This healthy spin on ground beef vegetable soup combines extra lean ground beef and a beaucoup of veggies with a spicy, tangy, umami broth that should rock your world. The recipe makes big ol’ servings with 14 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and only 185 calories each.

It’s perfect for Sunday meal prep and sneaking more veggies into your diet. Let’s get cooking!

two bowls of ground beef vegetable soup with grilled bread

As a quick note, this recipe is for an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, but I’ve included notes for stovetop prep in the notes of the recipe card.

How to Make Ground Beef Vegetable Beef Soup in an Instant Pot

I’m sure this isn’t your first rodeo. You know there’s a printable recipe card at the bottom of this post. But between here and there you’ll find a visual recipe walkthrough with what to look for in each step of the recipe, ingredient substitution notes, and general tips for cooking in your Instant Pot.

I promise there are no stories about my life or personal connection to soup.

1. Use the sauté function to brown a pound of ground beef before adding diced celery and onion.

sautéing ground beef, onion, and celery in an Instant Pot

At the end of this step, you’re looking for fully cooked ground beef and softened vegetables. It should take around 8-10 minutes.

Tips for Browning Ground Beef in the Instant Pot

The Maillard reaction (browning of meat) is an important part of cooking. The reaction between amino acids and sugars in meats creates unique, distinctive flavors you miss out on otherwise. Admittedly, the Instant Pot isn’t the ideal tool for browning, as the pot doesn’t get that hot, but here are some things you can do to help maximize browning:

  • Use a paper towel to pat the ground beef dry. (Moisture prevents browning.)
  • The pot should be as hot as it can get before you add the ground beef.
  • Gently press the beef into the pot, creating more surface area and contact points.
  • Avoid moving the meat around in the pot. Leave it untouched for at least 3-4 minutes before checking.

2. Add tomato paste or optional chipotle peppers and seasoning.

chipotle peppers, garlic powder, salt added to the Instant Pot

You’ll typically see tomato paste used in vegetable beef soups and stew, but I like to give my soup a kick by incorporating smashed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Adding the tomato paste at this stage lets the sugars caramelize, enhancing the flavor. Similar to browning ground beef, you need some contact with the hot pot without too many interferences.

If you’re a fan of spice, I mention using an entire 3.7 oz can of chipotle peppers instead of tomato paste. You could go that route or still add the tomato paste for its sweetness to balance the spice. Part of the beauty of recipes like this soup is that it’s quite difficult to mess them up.

3. Add potatoes, carrots, fresh thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and cooking liquids.

vegetables and remaining ingredients

I went with russet potatoes because of their starch content. This will thicken the soup and obviously make for great eating in the finished dish. Though if you wanted to make a low carb vegetable beef soup, you could swap the potatoes for daikon radish and/or turnips like in my Ninja Foodi pressure cooker pot roast. You’ll lose the thickening properties from the starch, but you could add a cornstarch slurry at the end if you decide you want a thicker broth.

I’ll also mention that I like larger bites of carrots and potatoes in my vegetable beef soup. If you want smaller pieces, feel free but you may need to slightly reduce the cook time (maybe 5 minutes) to avoid overcooking.

For the liquids:

  • soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • red wine vinegar*
  • chicken broth

*Balsamic vinegar also works great in a meaty soup or chili, as evidenced by my Instant Pot turkey chili.

vegetable ground beef soup before pressure cooking

Why chicken broth instead of beef broth?

This vegetable beef soup calls for chicken broth instead of beef broth. Here’s why:

What’s Wrong With It: Federal regulations for canned or boxed beef broth require a paltry 135-to-1 ratio of moisture to protein, and almost all options on the shelf hover around that point. The result is that most boxed or canned beef broth contains almost no beef at all, instead relying on yeast extracts to provide it with a savory aroma and flavor.

J. Kenji López-Alt, Serious Eats

So unless you’re using a high quality beef bone broth like the Kettle & Fire I used for my Smoked Pot Roast and pressure cooker pot roast recipes, go with chicken.

4. Pressure cook with high pressure for 20 minutes. Vent immediately.

ground beef vegetable soup after pressure cooking in an Instant Pot

The vegetables should be fork tender. If they’re not, you can cover and let everything simmer until they are. I’d caution against resealing and pressure cooking longer, as they could turn to mush.

5. Add frozen peas and cook for 5 minutes on the Instant Pot’s “Keep Warm” function.

frozen peas added to the soup

Be sure to remove the thyme stems and bay leaves before adding the peas.

And feel free to add other frozen veggies to your ground beef vegetable soup. Frozen green beans or corn were my first thoughts.

finished ground beef vegetable soup in the Instant Pot

Once the peas come up to temperature, salt and pepper to taste and you’re ready to rock.

How to Make This Vegetable Beef Soup without an Instant Pot

To make this soup on the stovetop, brown the ground beef in a soup pot or Dutch oven before adding the onion and celery all the same. Follow the recipe as written but instead of pressure cooking, bring the cooking liquid up to a boil before reducing to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots are tender. Add the frozen peas at the end all the same. 

If you’ve made our taco chili, treat this ground beef vegetable soup the same way.

Or if you have a Traeger, you could smoke this soup for about 3 hours, uncovered, at 325ºF just like our smoked cowboy stew. You could even make some southern smoked cornbread to serve with your soup.

What to Serve with Vegetable Beef Soup

Crusty bread is the perfect match here. I used the same grill pan I used for the crostini from my whipped feta dip recipe to make grilled sourdough slices. It provides texture while slowly soaking up the broth.

Mmm. Be right back—running to get another bowl of soup.

bowl of vegetable beef soup with grilled bread

Crackers are another classic soup pairing. For a lower carb option, you could go with something like parmesan crisps or other store bought crackers. Or you could make your own keto crackers. For more info on healthy cracker options, check out this guide to choosing healthier crackers.

I’m tempted to recommend my air fryer baked potatoes as a side, but that’s probably best if you make the turnip for potatoes swap. For more vegetable beef soup sides like corn muffins and cauliflower mash, check out this roundup of what to serve with beef stew.

I can’t wait to hear about your pairings and feedback on this recipe. Be sure to come back and leave a recipe review or comment below. Have a recipe question I forgot to cover? You can leave that in the comments as well.

And as a final note, if you love this ground beef vegetable soup you should check out more of my healthy soup recipes.

bowl of vegetable beef soup with grilled bread

Ground Beef Vegetable Soup

Yield: 8 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Extra lean ground beef and root veggies in a spicy, tangy, umami broth.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Ground Beef (96/4)
  • 1 Tablespoon (16g) Olive Oil, divided
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 4 Celery Stalks, diced
  • 1 pound Russet Potatoes, peeled and medium diced
  • 1 pound Rainbow Carrots, peeled and sliced to match potatoes
  • 3-4 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo, minced and smashed
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) Tomato Paste*
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon (15g) Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon (15g) Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) Red Wine Vinegar
  • 4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 3-4 sprigs Thyme
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 cup (135g) Frozen Peas

Instructions

  1. Turn on the Instant Pot's sauté function while you prepare the veggies and other ingredients. Once hot, add 1/2 Tbsp olive oil followed by the ground beef.
  2. Fully brown one side before flipping and moving to one side of the pot. In the other side of the pot, add the remaining 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, onion, and celery. Stir everything together and cook for 4-6 minutes until the veggies have softened and the beef is fully cooked.
  3. Add the smashed chipotle peppers, tomato paste, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook until fragrant, about a minute.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients, scraping any crispy bits off the bottom of the pot. Stir everything together, seal, and pressure cook with high pressure for 20 minutes.
  5. Vent, remove the bay leaves and thyme stems, and add the frozen peas. Let everything hang out for about 5 minutes to bring the peas up to temperature. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Notes

*For a spicy vegetable soup, use a full 3.7 oz can of chipotle peppers in adobo and omit tomato paste. For a milder soup, omit the chipotle peppers and use 1/4 cup tomato paste.

To make this soup on the stovetop, brown the ground beef in a soup pot before adding the onion and celery. Follow the recipe as written and bring the cooking liquid up to a boil before reducing to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes or until the veggies are fork tender. Add the frozen peas at the end and simmer for an additional 5 minutes or so.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Servings Serving Size: 1 1/2 cup (about 12 oz)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 185Total Fat: 4gCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 5gProtein: 14g

Sarah

Saturday 24th of September 2022

I made this tonight for dinner for my husband and I. Really, really good! I didn't change a thing except for halving the recipe (it's just the 2 of us) and adding a teaspoon of herbes de provence instead of the thyme. I just wish I had the same beautiful carrots you used! Will make this again and again. Thank you!

Dee Brown

Sunday 23rd of January 2022

Made this with venison that we harvested. It was outstanding!

Mason Woodruff

Sunday 23rd of January 2022

Thanks for the feedback, Dee! Perfect time of the year for some venison soup.

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