Hamburger soup is a classic, easy, fast and affordable soup to prepare. And it has a flavour that’s loved by young and old. This is a soup you can serve anytime, anywhere to anyone!
I love when food tastes great, is easy to prepare, makes use of what’s in the fridge or garden and is budget friendly. A classic homemade hamburger soup fits the bill!
What Else Can I Add to Hamburger Soup?
Garden Fresh Vegetables
My mom used to call this soup “Across the Garden Soup” (except she’d say “Quer durch den Garten”). She would literally go through the garden, pick whatever veggies were ripe and make this soup. In other words, you can add just about whatever vegetables you have on hand. In the summer add fresh garden veggies, in the winter, add your favourite frozen vegetables.
Add fresh garden vegetables based on how long they will need to cook in order for them to be as tender as you wish. Carrots will take longer than fresh beans, which take longer than fresh peas.
This hamburger soup is a great way to experiment with root vegetables that you or your dinner guests may not be familiar with. In addition to potatoes and carrots, consider adding sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips or rutabaga. You may discover a new favourite!
Pro Tip: Rutabagas and turnips both grow as roots and are members of the cabbage family. Turnips are usually the brighter of the two with purple on top and white on the bottom. The inside flesh is very white. Eaten raw, turnips have a sharp, almost radish like flavour. Rutabagas are usually bigger and rougher on the outside with a dark purple top and yellow/brownish bottom. Their flesh is more yellow and is milder and sweeter than turnips.
Leftover, Canned or Frozen Vegetables
Last night’s leftover cauliflower or frozen vegetables like peas, corn, green beans can be added towards the end of cooking just to heat through.
Canned beans like kidney beans, lima beans, white beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, etc. add more protein and fullness to your soup. Rinse them well and add towards the end just to heat through.
Leftover Tomato Sauce, Pasta Sauce, Salsa, etc.
If you have leftover tomato product in your fridge, maybe a little bit of tomato salsa, go ahead and add it to this soup when you’re adding the canned tomatoes. It’ll incorporate nicely into this soup.
Pasta, Rice or Barley
You can add macaroni or other types of pasta, rice, barley or other grains, just be aware that they will soak up extra liquid and when left in the fridge overnight will absorb most of the broth.
To avoid bloated pasta or rice, consider cooking them separately from the soup. That way you have the perfect consistency and you can store the soup and the add-ins separately in the fridge or even the freezer.
If you plan to eat the soup all at once or don’t mind swollen noodles or rice, go ahead and cook them directly in the soup. Add 1/2 cup pasta or rice and an extra cup of stock, water or tomatoes when you add the stock and cook 15 to 20 minutes to cook them until tender (instead of 8 minutes as in the recipe).
How Can I Make My Soup More Flavourful?
If you find your soup a little lack lustre here are a few ideas to boost flavour – try this in just about any soup you’re making.
- Adjust the seasoning to your liking just before serving with more herbs and spices already used in the soup. For this soup, add more thyme, basil, oregano (Italian seasoning), chili powder, cayenne pepper.
- Add a rind of Parmesan cheese when you add the bay leaf.
- Add soy sauce, dried mushrooms, miso paste, fresh mushrooms, nutritional yeast, bouillon powder or fish sauce to boost the umami flavour.
- Add a little acid (vinegar, red wine or lemon juice) to brighten the flavour.
- Chop fresh herbs and add to each bowl just before serving.
- Add a touch more salt and pepper, but if there’s enough salt try onion powder, hot sauce or garlic powder.
- Add some freshly grated Parmesan to each bowl of soup
What Kind of Potato is Best for Broth Soup?
I’m a big fan of “use what you got”! So the best potato is the one you have, especially if it needs to be used up!
That said, there is a quite a difference between potato varieties. You may not notice a big difference between yellow or red potatoes but you will notice a difference between those types and a russet potato.
Starchy potatoes like russet potatoes get pillowy with soft edges when cooked for a long time. In soup, they’ll start to crumble a little. This can make soups a little cloudier and provide a little bit of thickness. In fact, you can use this to your advantage, simply mash or puree these potatoes to thicken your soup.
Waxy potatoes like red, white or yukon gold potatoes will hold their shape when cooked. You will continue to see the distinct shape of the potatoes as you cut them. Of course, they will soften the longer you cook them, but it takes longer and if you want to use these potatoes to thicken your soup, you’ll have to squish harder.
For a broth soup like this hamburger soup, I prefer red, white or Yukon yellow potatoes so I can have distinct chunks of potatoes.
What Kind of Stock or Broth Should I Use?
Choose according to taste. Whether you choose homemade or store bought, beef, chicken, veggie or ham stock – it has to taste good to you. Remember that homemade stock won’t have the intense flavour that most store bought stocks or broths do. Store bought options come pre-loaded with salt, seasoning and preservatives. With homemade stocks you have the opportunity to season the final soup as you like.
In the retail world, the line between STOCK and BROTH is very blurred, there is no consistent standard or definition from one brand to the next. These terms have become almost meaningless.
In the culinary world, a STOCK is made with bones and is considered a base to be seasoned when used in different dishes. Because of the high collagen from the bones and the extended simmering time to draw out all the goodness from the bones, stocks often become thick and jelly like. Meanwhile BROTH is made with meat and vegetables and is often seasoned and finished to be used as is.
Ironically, the popular term “Bone Broth” should actually be called “Bone Stock” since it is touted to offer the benefits of collagen and bones simmered for a long time – um – that’s STOCK! Confusing, right!
In the end, it’s the taste that matters. Choose what you love then taste and season your soup according to your taste preferences.
How Long Will This Soup Last?
A good rule of thumb for most soups is about 3-4 days in the fridge. This hamburger soup is no exception, store in the fridge in an airtight container once it’s cooled for 3-4 days.
Can I Freeze Hamburger Soup?
Well, it depends on what type and how many veggies you’ve added to this soup. Let me be clear, it’s perfectly safe to freeze this soup regardless of what veggies, but the texture of some vegetables may change. Potatoes, for example, will get a little grainy when frozen and other veggies may get quite soft. If your version has more potatoes than any other vegetable and your sensitive to texture changes, make a smaller batch and enjoy it all in a couple of days rather than freezing.
If you want to freeze this soup, place in an airtight container and freeze for 3-6 months.
Hamburger Soup Recipe
Classic Homemade Hamburger Soup
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 1 carrot diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lb lean ground beef 454g
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning*
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 3 potatoes peeled and diced
- 1 small parsnip, turnip or rutabaga optional
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 8 cups beef or vegetable stock
- 1 can diced tomatoes 28oz/798ml
- 1 whole jalapeno or other hot pepper sliced open
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 Parmesan rind (optional)
- 1 cup frozen green beans
- 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
- 1/2 cup frozen green peas
- salt to taste
- 3 green onions chopped
- 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- In large soup pot, heat oil over medium high heat.
- Sauté onions, celery and carrot until onions are clear, 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
- Add beef and cook until no longer pink, stirring and breaking up beef with spoon, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add Italian seasoning, chili powder, black pepper and potatoes (and/or any other root vegetables), cook another 2 minutes.
- Stir in tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce, cook another 2 minutes.
- Add the stock, diced tomatoes, hot pepper (remove seeds for milder flavour), bay leaves and Parmesan rind. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
- Add green beans, peas and corn (and/or any other tender veggies); cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Remove bay leaf and hot pepper. Stir in half of the green onions and parsley.
- Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with remaining fresh herbs.
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
Do you have any questions about making hamburger soup, do you have favourite add-ins that I’m missing out on? I love getting reader’s questions and the opportunity to swap tips and info. Leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram @getgettys and Facebook @GettyStewart.HomeEconomist.
Getty Stewart is a Professional Home Economist, speaker, frequent media guest and writer dedicated to putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of several recipe books on enjoying and preserving fruit, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener. Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this.