Hamburger Soup

HAMBURGER SOUP IS COMFORT FOOD AT ITS MOST ADDICTIVE!

This Hamburger Soup is quick, easy and inexpensive AND deeply satisfying. It is wonderfully hearty loaded with ground beef, potatoes, carrots, celery, diced tomatoes and bell peppers in a complex tomato broth spiked with a hint of smoky barbecue goodness. This Hamburger Soup recipe is make ahead friendly, reheats beautifully and wonderfully versatile. Say hello to your new family favorite soup!

top view of Hamburger Soup with noodles

Hamburger Soup Recipe


Hamburger Soup has many other names such as goulash, poor man’s soup, bachelor’s stew, etc., but I just call it DE-licious. This Hamburger Soup is one of my favorite easy weeknight meals. It boasts spoonfuls of juicy beef and tender veggies so it’s easy to please everyone, it’s easy to make, it’s easy to customize and it’s easy to clean up after!

To make, simply toss hamburger and veggies into a pot, saute for a few minutes then leave the soup to do its thing. No roux required, just hands off simmering while the soup fills your home with the robust smoky aroma of comfort.

All Hamburger Soup recipes share a few common characteristics: hamburger, veggies and tomato broth but THIS Hamburger soup isn’t just tomat-y, it boasts a notes of smoky barbecue as well.

I borrowed the barbecue flavor profile from my Smoky Barbecue Chicken Chili (an all time readers fav), and toned it down a little. The resulting Hamburger Soup is rich, complex with layers of tangy, smoky flavor all cradling juicy beef, tender potatoes and veggies. It’s one pot of soup you will have to pry yourself away from. Then pry some more.

Ingredients for EASY Hamburger Soup

This Hamburger Soup uses pantry friendly ingredients for the sauce and then you can mix in all sorts of veggies. Here is my favorite combination:

  • Lean ground beef: I like to use lean ground beef but I’ve include other protein options below as well.
  • Potatoes: potatoes are the other star of this Hamburger Soup recipe. While you can make it without potatoes, I think potatoes elevate it to a whole new level of yum. I like to use red potatoes because they don’t require peeling and they retain their shape well. Yukon gold potatoes would also be buttery delicious. You can also use Russet potatoes but you will want to peel them first and they can get a little mealy. In the end, however, you can use whatever potatoes you have on hand.
  • onion: use one small onion or substitute with 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder.
  • carrots: you will need about 3 medium carrots to equal 1 ½ cups.
  • celery: you will need about 3 stalks of celery to equal 1 ½ cups. Chop both your carrots and celery into about 1/4″ pieces. Alternatively, you can purchase pre-chopped mirepoix by the jar that contains chopped celery, carrots sand onion.
  • bell pepper: I use a green bell pepper but you can use whatever color you have on hand or substitute it for zucchini or green beans.
  • diced tomatoes: I like to use fire roasted diced tomatoes that are located next to the traditional diced tomatoes. Fire roasted tomatoes are NOT spicy – the fire simply means they have been roasted which gives them a complex smokiness. If you can’t find fire roasted diced tomatoes, than traditional diced tomatoes work just fine.
  • beef broth: please use REDUCED SODIUM beef broth so we can control the salt.
  • tomato sauce: one plain 15 oz. can tomato sauce will do the trick. Make sure it doesn’t have any added seasonings.
  • spices: we season our Hamburger Soup with chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, and pepper. The chili powder adds earthy chili flavor and the smoked paprika adds a little smokiness. 
  • herbs: we add dried basil, dried parsley, and dried oregano to round out the earthy flavor. I use dried herbs for convenience, but you are welcome to use fresh if you prefer. If using fresh, you will need 3X the amount of dried herbs and want to add them at the end of cooking so they remain poignant.
  • barbecue flair: just one tablespoon each of yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar as well as a splash of liquid smoke mingle with the tomato based broth to give our Hamburger Soup a rich, complex tangy, smoky flavor all cradling juicy beef, tender potatoes and veggies.
side view of hamburger soup with a gold spoon

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU ADD TO HAMBURGER SOUP?

Like I mentioned earlier, this Hamburger Soup is a goulash of sorts- it is completely customizable as far as the add-ins. Just keep in mind, for whatever you add, you may want to eliminate one of the existing ingredients to keep the correct proportions – or just add more water!

  • Ground Turkey: If you substitute the beef for turkey, you may want to add additional beef bouillon – my secret ingredient when using turkey like in my turkey chili and turkey tacos. It makes your turkey taste like beef! Just be sure to add additional beef bouillon at the end of cooking so you can add to taste and ensure your Hamburger Soup doesn’t taste too salty.
  • Other proteins: Although this is “Hamburger Soup,” the flavorful seasoned broth is too good not to savor with other proteins! You can add shredded rotisserie chicken, ground chicken, sliced sausage, mini meatballs, etc.
    Pasta:  you can substitute the potatoes for 2 cups of uncooked pasta. Add the pasta to the soup after all of the other ingredients and bring it to a simmer. You will need to babysit your pasta and cook just until al dente. You will want to use a smaller pasta like in my Minestrone Soup that is roughly the same size as your chopped veggies. Macaroni, small shells, rotini, etc. are all great pastas for soup.
  • Rice: you can substitute the potatoes for cooked rice, specifically wild rice or brown rice for the best texture. You will want to cook the rice separately to ensure proper cooking of the rice and not overcooking of the veggies.
  • Zucchini: add zucchini at the same time as the potatoes. The zucchini takes the least amount of time to cook, so cut it on the thick side, at least ¼” chunks.
  • Green Beans: add fresh or canned green beans at the same time as the potatoes.
    Corn: add canned corn, frozen corn or fresh corn at the end of the cooking, cover, and heat through for about 2 minutes.
  • Cabbage: add 2 cups cabbage at the same time as the corn (if using), at the end of cooking, cover and simmer for 2 minutes, just until wilted.
  • Beans. Add one (14.5 oz) can of kidney beans or cannellin beans, rinsed and drained, at the end of cooking, the same time as the corn
    and/or cabbage (if using), and heat for approximately 2 minutes.
    Spinach: add spinach, Swiss chard or baby kale at the end of cooking once the potatoes are tender and just stir to wilt, about 1 minute.

What toppings for hamburger soup Recipe?

We love to top this Hamburger Soup with freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream and fresh parsley. You could also add cheesy bread, croutons, hot sauce, bacon, and/or chives,

How to Make Hamburger Soup

This Hamburger Soup is very simple to make but the complex flavors taste like its been simmering for hours!

You will start with our star ingredient – hamburger- and brown it with onions, carrots and celery. Cooking the hamburger with veggies infuses them with all that fabulous flavor instead of just cooking them with olive oil.

Next, add all remaining soup ingredients and bring the soup to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, and continue to cook, uncovered, for approximately 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

showing how to make hamburger soup by adding beef broth, tomato sauce and diced totmatoes

That’s It! How easy was that Hamburger Soup?!

showing how to make best Hamburger Soup with cabbage by simmering until thickened

Crockpot Hamburger Soup

For an equally easy version of Crockpot Hamburger Soup, you can use your slow cooker! I don’t think it saves any effort because you still need to brown the beef in the skillet, so it is best for occasions when you won’t be around and want to come home to a warm dinner waiting in the crockpot.

To make Hamburger Soup in the slow cooker, following the same instructions of browning the hamburger, onions, celery and carrots in a skillet, pour off any excess grease and add to the slow cooker. Add all the remaining ingredients, cover, and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or on LOW for 6-8 hours or until the potatoes are tender. Cooking times can vary based on your slow cooker and the size of your potatoes.

What Can I Prep Ahead of Time?

This Hamburger Vegetable Soup recipe has relatively little hands on cooking time, so if you prep the ingredients ahead of time, the soup pretty much makes itself! You can prep some or all of the below ahead of time:

  • Veggies: You can chop all of your veggies in advance and store the in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
  • Potatoes.  If you chop your potatoes in advance, you will need to keep them refrigerated submerged in water so they don’t discolor. Instead, I wash and chop my potatoes while my beef is browning.
  • Buy/pre-chopped mirepoix.  As previously mentioned, you can eliminate much of the chopping by purchasing mirepoix by the jar. I know many friends who swear by the mirepoix from Trader Joes and keep it reedy to go in their fridge for dump and simmer dinners like this Hamburger Soup.
  • Everything else: You can mix together all of the remaining soup ingredients that get added after the veggies and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

HELPFUL TIPS for HAMBURGER SOUP

  • Can I use freezer veggies? For an easy shortcut, you can use frozen vegetable medleys and add to the soup with the potatoes.  No need to defrost.
  • How long does this Hamburger Soup Take to Cook? I like to chop my potatoes larger for this Hamburger Vegetable Soup recipe, so for 1″ chunk potatoes, it take about 25 minutes to simmer. You are welcome to chop your potatoes smaller so the soup will take less time to cook.  
  • Can I half this recipe? Certainly!  But honestly, this Hamburger Soup is going to be a family favorite or personal favorite, so even if you have leftovers, they will disappear in a flash!  And bonus, this Hamburger Soup makes FANTASTIC leftovers!
  • Can I make it cheesy? To make cheesy Hamburger Soup, stir freshly shredded cheddar cheese directly into the soup.
  • Can I make it thicker? Yes! You can thicken up the soup to more of a stew-like consistency with a cornstarch slurry. Make a cornstarch slurry by mixing 2 tablespoons cornstarch with ¼ cup of cold broth or water until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Slowly whisk into the Hamburger Soup over low heat. Bring to a simmer for 5-10 minutes until thickened.
top view of Hamburger Soup with ric

WHAT CAN I do with lefover hamburger soup?

Hamburger Soup can be thickened into more of a stew-like consistency and served as a sauce. Try it:

  • stirred into rice
  • stuffed into peppers and baked
  • served over zoodles or spaghetti squash
  • served over baked potatoes
  • stuffed in zucchini boats, topped mozzarella and baked
  • stuffed in savory crepes
  • on top of cheesy bread

What to Serve with Hamburger Soup?

I love topping my Hamburger Soup with sharp cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream. As far as sides go, it is delicious with a big green salad, crusty bread, dinner rolls or cornbread.

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT this recipe 

  • Storage: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 
  • Stove: Reheat large batches on the stove over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally – about 10 minutes.
  • Microwave: Transfer individual servings to a microwave-safe dish and cover with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel. Microwave for 90 seconds, stir, then continue to microwave at 30-second intervals, if needed.

Can I Freeze Hamburger Soup?

I personally don’t care for the texture of frozen potatoes as they can become mealy, but if that doesn’t bother you, than you are welcome to freeze this Hamburger Soup.

To freeze Hamburger Soup:

  1. Cool: Cool Hamburger Soup completely before freezing.
  2. Package:  Transfer soup to an airtight freezer safe container or freezer bag.  You can even use sandwich size plastic bags for individual soup portions.  Squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn and label
  3. Freeze. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  4. Defrost/Reheat. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator then reheat in the microwave, crockpot or stove.

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up close of a ladle full of easy hamburger soup

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top view of Hamburger Soup with noodles

Hamburger Soup

This Hamburger Soup is quick, easy and inexpensive AND deeply satisfying. It is wonderfully hearty loaded with ground beef, potatoes, carrots, celery, diced tomatoes and bell peppers in a complex tomato broth spiked with a hint of smoky barbecue goodness. This Hamburger Soup recipe is make ahead friendly, reheats beautifully and wonderfully versatile. Say hello to your new family favorite soup!
Servings: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 small yellow onion chopped
  • 3 medium size carrots chopped (1 ½ cups)
  • 3 stalks celery chopped (1 ½ cups)
  • 3 cups (1 pound) red potatoes chopped into 1” chunks
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 7 cups reduced sodium beef broth
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes with juices may sub regular
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsps EACH chili powder, beef bouillon/better than bouillon
  • 1 tsp EACH ground cumin, garlic powder, salt
  • 1/2 tsp EACH dried basil, dried parsley, dried oregano, smoked paprika, pepper
  • 1 tablespoon yellow deli mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke optional

Garnish

  • cheddar cheese
  • parsley
  • green onions

Instructions

Stove Top Directions

  • Brown beef with onions, carrots and celery in large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. While the beef is cooking, you can prep the potatoes and bell pepper. Drain all excess grease from beef.
  • Add all remaining soup ingredients and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and continue to cook, uncovered, for approximately 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.
  • Once potatoes are tender, you can thin soup to desired consistency by adding additional water or broth, but this soup is supposed to be chunky. Garnish individual servings with cheese if desired.

Crockpot Hamburger Soup

  • Brown beef with onions, carrots and celery in large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. While the beef is cooking, you can prep the potatoes and bell pepper. Drain all excess grease from beef.
  • Add beef contents and all remaining soup ingredients to a 6 quart slow cooker but use only SIX cups broth (instead of 7 because the liquid won’t evaporator like simmering on the stove).
  • Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or on LOW for 6-8 hours or until potatoes are tender. Thin soup to desired consistency by adding additional water or broth, but this soup is supposed to be chunky.
  • NOTE: Crockpot versions don’t have as concentrated of flavor because none of the liquid evaporates while cooking so they generally need more seasonings – you may need to doctor the final product.

Notes

recipe variations

This Hamburger Soup is a goulash of sorts- it is completely customizable as far as the add-ins. Just keep in mind, for whatever you add, you may want to eliminate one of the existing ingredients to keep the correct proportions – or just add more water!
  • Ground Turkey: If you substitute the beef for turkey, you may want to add additional beef bouillon – my secret ingredient when using turkey like in my turkey chili and turkey tacos. It makes your turkey taste like beef! Just be sure to add additional beef bouillon at the end of cooking so you can add to taste and ensure your Hamburger Soup doesn’t taste too salty.
  • Other proteins: Although this is “Hamburger Soup,” the flavorful seasoned broth is too good not to savor with other proteins! You can add shredded rotisserie chicken, ground chicken, sliced sausage, mini meatballs, etc.
  • Pasta:  you can substitute the potatoes for 2 cups of uncooked pasta. Add the pasta to the soup after all of the other ingredients and bring it to a simmer. You will need to babysit your pasta and cook just until al dente. You will want to use a smaller pasta like in my Minestrone Soup that is roughly the same size as your chopped veggies. Macaroni, small shells, rotini, etc. are all great pastas for soup.
  • Rice: you can substitute the potatoes for cooked rice, specifically wild rice or brown rice for the best texture. You will want to cook the rice separately to ensure proper cooking of the rice and not overcooking of the veggies.
  • Zucchini: add zucchini at the same time as the potatoes. The zucchini takes the least amount of time to cook, so cut it on the thick side, at least ¼” chunks.
  • Green Beans: add fresh or canned green beans at the same time as the potatoes.
    Corn: add canned corn, frozen corn or fresh corn at the end of the cooking, cover, and heat through for about 2 minutes.
  • Cabbage: add 2 cups cabbage at the same time as the corn (if using), at the end of cooking, cover and simmer for 2 minutes, just until wilted.
  • Beans. Add one (14.5 oz) can of kidney beans or cannellin beans, rinsed and drained, at the end of cooking, the same time as the corn
    and/or cabbage (if using), and heat for approximately 2 minutes.
    Spinach: add spinach, Swiss chard or baby kale at the end of cooking once the potatoes are tender and just stir to wilt, about 1 minute.

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT 

  • To store: store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 
  • To freeze: transfer cooled soup to an airtight freezer safe container or freezer bag.  Squeeze out any excess air to prevent freezer burn.  Freeze for up to 3 months.  Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • Stove: reheat large batches on the stove over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally – about 10 minutes.
  • Microwave: transfer individual servings to a microwave-safe dish and cover with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel. Microwave for 90 seconds, stir, then continue to microwave at 30-second intervals, if needed.
 

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26 Comments

  1. Gina says

    Looks wonderful. I will be swapping Textured Vegetable Protein or Butler Foods Soy Curls for Protein. Better Than Bouillon No Beef Base. Thank you for the great recipes. Have a great weekend.

  2. Paul W. says

    2 tsp of Beef boullion OR 2 tsp beef bouillon powder or beef soup base?

    • Jen says

      Yes, they are all the same, enjoy!

  3. Shirley Waddle says

    How much is a serving? Any calorie count on one serving….or maybe it’s so delish that we don’t want to know?! I always enjoy your postings. Thanks.

  4. 2pots2cook says

    It seems we have our four seasons favourite 🙂 Thank you so much !

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome, I’m excited for you to try it!

  5. Kathy says

    This sounds wonderful and I am going to try it. But since I am only cooking for one person, I do like to freeze individual portions to enjoy later. Can the recipe be frozen since it includes potatoes, or should some other ingredient be substituted? I so enjoy reading your postings!

    • Jen says

      Hi Kathy, I don’t personally like freezing soups with potatoes so I would suggest only adding potatoes to whatever you aren’t freezing or substituting them. Enjoy!

  6. Jude says

    It’s a rainy 47 degree day in Maine! This soup is resting on the stove and will be served shortly for lunch along with Bakewell Cream biscuits! It’s going to be a hit! It smells so good! Thanks for another great recipe!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Jude, thanks for taking the time to comment! It sounds absolutely perfect to warm everyone up!

  7. Kate Braun says

    I found this recipe when hunting for a hamburger soup recipe. I made it tonight and LOVE IT!! this recipe is a keeper. Thank you so much!!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome, I’m thrilled you love it, thanks Kate!

  8. Garrett says

    I’m confused… smoked paprika is mentioned under spices (“the smoked paprika adds a little smokiness.”), but isn’t listed as an ingredient anywhere…

    • Jen says

      My apologies – it should be 1/2 teaspoon. Enjoy!

  9. Jessi says

    Delish! My family and I loved this soup. (Didn’t have any bouillon so I skipped it and it was still wonderful.)

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Jessi! I’m so happy it was a winner with the entire fam!

  10. judi says

    OK my boys are very picky eaters – once I started cooking this dish they were in and out of their rooms wondering what smelled so good until they got to the point they had to sit by the pot watching it simmer and tasting it every 5 minutes! Needless to say we always have left overs but not today!! So delicious ❤️

    • Jen says

      You made my day, thanks so much Judi! I am thrilled even your picky eaters loved this Hamburger Soup recipe!

  11. CL Williamsen says

    This looks yummy but I’m on a strict diet. Do you have the nutritional information for this?

  12. Marie says

    I followed everything to a tee except the liquid smoke for the crackpot version and mine looks more watery than the picture.

    • Jen says

      Hi Marie, the crockpot version will be slightly more watery because liquid doesn’t evaporate when cooking like on the stovetop.

  13. Jennifer says

    I made this exactly as written and it was perfect. The blend of spices and liquid smoke made an amazing broth. I thought I might miss some of the standard vegetables you put in typical vegetable soups, but I didn’t at all. Delish.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Jennifer! I’m so pleased this hamburger soup was such a winner!