My Vegetable Beef Soup is a Filipino Dish which is a version of “Nilagang Baka” or in literal English translation BOILED BEEF. This Nilagang Baka dish is one of the Filipino food staples. It is a dish that is easy to make and requires simple ingredients. It’s a very comforting dish and this comes from the ever tender and rich beef cube slices and satisfying texture of the vegetables.
There are a lot of different vegetables that you can put into this dish such as potatoes, cabbage, bokchoy, onions, green beans, corn, a piece or two of green chili peppers and “saging na saba” which is also know as a plantain.
Nilagang Baka is served in the Philippines with rice (this is a must have). Filipinos will never recognize any food as a meal without a rice! Aside from the rice, my family likes to serve it with some soy sauce or fish sauce with a squeeze of calamansi. You can also serve it with smashed green chili peppers from the Nilagang Baka to add some tang and spice which make the dish even more delicious.
For my Vegetable Beef Soup just like any other beef recipes, it will take 1 to 1.5 hours to make this dish. This is because beef needs to be very tender to make the dish enjoyable. I also marinate the beef overnight with some soy sauce , 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper and a flash of Worcestershire sauce to take my vegetable beef soup a step further than a traditional Nilagang Baka. Marinating the beef is not at all part of the process so you can definitely skip this but I think it really makes the dish even tastier. So if you have time to marinate the beef it is worth it.
Spoiler alert! Do not compare my recipe to the traditional Nilagang Baka, I made a few changes to make the broth a perfect match with ramen noodles aside from steamed rice. So if you are looking for a beef soup recipe that’s also good with ramen noodles, then this recipe is for you.
Below are ingredients I use for this recipe and why I use them:
- Green Cabbage – I grew up seeing big chunks of cabbage in my family’s version of Nilagang Baka and I wanted to recreate that by using the same vegetables. However, if you prefer bok choy, then you can definitely use for this recipe.
- Gold Potatoes – I decided to choose gold potatoes so I do not need to peel and slice into cubes. I rinse 5 to 6 pieces of golden potatoes and cook it together with the beef. This makes the taste of potatoes tastier but if for some reason you notice that your beef need to cook longer that you expected, take out the potatoes and set them aside in order to avoid the potatoes from becoming mushy. In my case, I cook the potatoes for 1 hour and 20 minutes and the potatoes still look good and they’re not mushy.
- Red Onion – This is the only onion available in my kitchen but you can use white onion.
- Green Onion – Green onion is not part of the ingredients in any version of Nilagang Baka that I know of. However, I like the flavor that green onions add to the broth. I discovered this when I was making my Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup With Jalapeno And An Asian Twist. Besides, green onions have many health benefits and contain compounds like allyl sulphide and flavonoids that possibly prevent cancer. So I decided to add green onions in my Vegetable Beef Soup recipe.
- Jalepeno – I add jalepeno in the the soup for the same reason why I use green cabbage. However I cannot find green chili peppers in the local grocery store so I picked jalepeno as a substitute for green chili peppers.
- Star Anise – You are probably not familiar with this spice and it’s not normally available in the local grocery. I bought mine in the Asian grocery store. However, if you can’t find star anise, you can substitute with 1/4 teaspoon of fennel seed or a pinch of all spice powder. The star anise adds a bit of sweetness and a bit of bitterness to the vegetable beef soup.
- Brown Sugar – Again, just like green onions, brown sugar is not part of the traditional Nilagang Baka but when I started tasting my recipe, I noticed something was missing. I want my broth to be good for noodles as well as ramen noodles so I added 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar and I noticed that it dramatically enhanced the flavor. I added another 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar . The result was just what I was looking for in a broth and it’s the perfect match with Asian noodles particularly ramen noodles.
- Lemon Juice – Adding lemon juice is probably influenced by the cooking shows that I love to watch. Here in the U.S., most of the foods they cook on cooking shows seem to have lemon juice added to the recipe. This helps to cut greasiness and gives a clean taste to the food. Since beef is high in saturated fat, even if you use lean cuts of beef, lemon juice will do the work of cutting out some greasiness. In my vegetable beef soup, the lemon works well and gives a clean taste to the food.
- Fish Sauce – This is optional but if you want to have an umami taste or to deepen the flavor, fish sauce will do the work for you.
What can you say about my vegetable beef soup my version of Nilagang Baka of the Philippines? You are free to give a comments for any suggestions or feedback. It is always appreciated!
Vegetable Beef Soup:
- 2 lbs. beef chuck or sirloin in cubed optional: marinate it with soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and ground pepper
- 1/2 head green cabbage quartered
- 5 pcs. golden potatoes whole
- 1/2 whole red onion quartered
- 2 pcs. green onions whole
- 1 pc. star anise pinch of all spice powder
- 4 cups beef broth
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 tbsp. whole black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp fish sauce optional
- 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce marinating sauce
- 3 tbsp. soy sauce marinating sauce
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper add to marinating sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pat the beef to dry and slice into bite size pieces.
- Optional: Place the sliced bite sized beef into a medium bowl and marinate in 1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce, 3 tbsp of soy sauce and 1/2 tsp. of ground black pepper. Place covered in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Combine the beef broth and water in a large cooking pot. Add the onion, star anise, whole black peppercorns, green onions, beef and potatoes. Cover the pot and bring to boil.
- Reduce the heat into medium low and simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours or until tender. Add more water if needed.
- Once the beef is tender, remove the green onions and red onions. Then add the cabbage, sugar, jalapeno, lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir. Note you can add a tablespoon of fish sauce instead of salt.
- Cover and let it cook for another 5 minutes or until the cabbage is cooked.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy it with steamed rice or your favorite noodles.