Hearty Vegetable Soup with Hamburger

By: The Local Palate

Crystal Wilkinson’s shares this hearty vegetable soup with hamburger in her cookbook, Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts (Clarkson Potter, 2024). “This is a poor woman’s version of my grandmother’s vegetable soup that I made when my children were young. I prefer fresh vegetables, but the recipe can work with whatever’s in your pantry. It’s a savory, satisfying meal while balling on a budget, which I think is at the heart of soup-making.”

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Serves 8 to 10

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
  • 2 medium onions, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • Table salt
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 (14-ounce) can corn kernels, drained and rinsed, or kernels from 2 ears of fresh corn (2 cups)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat a little oil in a large soup pot over medium heat, until shimmering. Add ground meat in pinches and cook for a few minutes, until no trace of pink remains. Drain off most of the rendered fat, but keep some in the pot for extra flavor.
  2. Stir in onions with a pinch of salt and a small pinch of red pepper flakes (if using). Cook 8 to 10 minutes, until onions are mostly translucent. Add vegetables, beans, and tomatoes with their juices, stir, then pour in broth. Add water as needed to cover vegetables and meat.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, until carrots and potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally and adding water if needed. Taste and season with salt and/or pepper. Serve hot.


  • Recipes reprinted and adapted with permission from
    Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts: Stories and Recipes from Five Generations of Black Country Cooks by Crystal Wilkinson copyright © 2024. Photographs by Kelly Marshall copyright © 2024. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

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