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Robert St. John

Restaurateur, author, enthusiastic traveler, & world-class eater.

Zing Zang Vegetable Beef Soup

November 5, 2013



I’m not a soup guy.


I didn’t grow up in a soup family. We were devoted disciples of all

types of gumbo, but that’s where it ended. My only exposure to soup as

a kid was mostly the chicken-noodle variety when I was sick. Even then

is was some type of add-water instant soup or the occasional serving

of canned soup. Nothing memorable.


I learned how to make soup in 1987 from the original chef at the

Purple Parrot Café. The corn and crab bisque that is on the menu today

is his recipe.


The first soup I created was the shrimp bisque we have served for 25

years. I followed up that creation with crawfish bisque, potato soup,

oyster and artichoke soup, and black bean soup— each of which are

still in regular rotation in our soup-of-the-day program.


Customers love all of our homemade soups, but I rarely order them.

That is, unless we are serving vegetable beef soup. I order the

vegetable beef soup every day during its run.


I am typically not a fan of vegetable beef soup, never have been,

never will be. Yet I love our recipe. It is, I believe, the best

vegetable beef soup on the planet and it’s easy to make. The recipe

accompanies this column and you shouldn’t let fall turn into winter

without having made it at least once.


I developed the recipe on one of those rare Hattiesburg snow days

about 10 years ago. My daughter was home from school, she and I were

building a snowman, and the only lunch that made sense that day was

vegetable beef soup.


Due to the weather and slippery roads, I didn’t want to go to the

grocery store. I had no stew meat, but I did have a ribeye steak in

the refrigerator left over from a recent cookout. I chopped it into

small pieces and it made a huge difference in the outcome of the final

product. I also substituted V-8 juice for tomato juice. In future

versions I stepped it up another level and substituted Zing Zang

Bloody Mary mix for the V-8.


We only serve this soup every eight weeks or so. We have to save up

enough prime rib and filet mignon trimmings to make a large batch.


You can use typical stew meat and the flavor will be fine. But if you

use real steak, it bumps the flavor profile (and especially the

texture of the beef) up immensely. You can also use tomato juice or

V-8, but if you opt for Zing Zang it’ll be like vegetable beef soup on



Another key is to make a homemade beef stock. The key to all great

cooking is in the basic components such as stock. The better the

stock, the better the soup. Use a weak stock or a canned broth and

you’ll get a weak soup.


You are now three components away from making the best vegetable beef

soup of your life— Zing Zang Bloody Mary mix, a hearty beef stock, and

filet mignon or ribeye steak trimmings. Go bold if you want to eat






Vegetable Beef Soup



3 Tbl                           Olive oil

1 1 /2 lbs                     Filet mignon or ribeye steak trimmings

(cut into 3/4-inch cubes)

1 1 /2 tsp                     Salt

1 tsp                            Pepper

1 cup                           Onion, small dice

1 cup                           Carrot, small dice

1 cup                           Celery, small dice

1 Tbl                           Garlic, minced

1 /2 tsp                                    Dried Thyme

2 tsp                            Steak Seasoning

1                                  Bay leaf

15 oz can                     Tomato, diced

1 1 /2 quart                  Beef stock

1 cup                           Corn, fresh, scraped from the cob

1 cup                           Potato, peeled and diced to ¾” cubes

1 cup                           Zing-Zang Bloody Mary Mix

1 Tbl                           Kitchen Bouquet

1 Tbl                           Worcestershire sauce


Heat 1 tablespoon of oil over high heat in a large skillet. Season the

meat with half of the salt and pepper. Brown the meat in olive oil. Do

not overload the skillet. Over loading the skillet will cause the beef

to steam instead of brown. Brown meat in batches, add more oil when

necessary then place cooked meat in a large stockpot.


Add one tablespoon of oil to skillet and sauté the onions, carrots,

celery and garlic for five minutes over medium heat. Add thyme, steak

seasoning and bay leaf. Deglaze the pan by adding the canned tomatoes

(with the juice) using a wooden spoon to remove any stuck-on proteins.

Cook five minutes on high, and add to the meat in the stockpot. Place

beef broth in the stockpot and cook over low heat. The soup should

just barely simmer. After 1 hour, add Zing Zang, corn and potatoes.

Continue cooking another 45 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in

remaining salt, pepper, Worcestershire and Kitchen Bouquet. Yield:

approximately one gallon

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