Canning Vegetable Soup

Vegetables cooking in a canner

Vegetables cooking in a canner

Spring is here and it won’t be long before the Farmers Markets and roadside markets are brimming with veggies.  Take the advantage of lower prices by buying in large quantities.  This vegetable soup is the base for lots of winter soups.  Just open a jar, add meat, beans, pasta, or rice for those one dish meals on cold winter nights.

My mother-in-law gave me this recipe in the 1970’s.   Those were the days before farmers started growing hybrid tomatoes with lower acidity.   Hybrid tomatoes maybe great for eating fresh but not good for canning.  Unless you’re using heirloom tomatoes, which have higher acidity, you’ll need to add citric acid to each jar before water bathing.

Check jars to make sure there are no chips or dings in the top rim.  They will not seal properly if damaged.  Be sure to scrub jars, lids, and rings in hot soapy water.  Sterilize jars for 10 minutes in a canner of boiling water.  You can use the automatic dish washer for a sterilizing rinse and to keep jars and sealing lids warm until ready to pack.  Any un-iodized Local Kitchensalt will do for canning, but the best is Morton’s canning salt.  Click here for more information about canning:

Ingredients: – makes 8 quarts

  • 1 head cabbage, chopped
  • 1 quart sliced carrots
  • 2 1/2 quarts water
  • 2 bunches celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup canning salt
  • 4 quarts peeled tomatoes
  • 6 large onions, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers and 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2  tsp citric acid per jar


  1. Place all ingredients in a large canner.
  2. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 hour.
  3. Place 1/2 tsp of citric acid in each sterilized jar.
  4. Ladle soup into sterilized jars, wipe rims, apply seals and rings and tighten.
  5. Water bath jars under boiling water for 20 minutes.
  6. Carefully remove from bath and set on kitchen towels, out of drafts, until cool.
  7. Listen for pops of lids sealing.  Check all lids; if the lid spring back when press, it is not sealed.  Remove seal and discard.  Apply new seal and water bath again, or refrigerate and make soup for supper.

I’ve updated this post to include citric acid in the recipe.  This will ensure the pH level is acid enough for canning in a boiling water bath.  You can check acid levels before sealing jars with a litmus strip available at pharmacies, or wherever canning supplies are carried.

28 Responses to “Canning Vegetable Soup”

  1. Dorothy Williams Says:

    I made homemade vegetable beef soup and when it was, done I put in sterile jars, sealed and water bathed them, they all sealed, after reading all these posts I guess my question is , Is it safe since it sealed

    • JoAnn Says:

      Any time you can meat or vegetables you must use a pressure cooker to ensure safety. Only fruits high in acid or pickled vegetables may be water-bath canned. Better to freeze your beef soup.

  2. karenhicks Says:

    can i hot water bath veggir soup that has greenbeans without meat if so how long

    • JoAnn Says:

      No. Without substantial acid you cannot safely water bath can vegetables. Use a pressure cooker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

  3. kumlama Says:

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  4. mic Says:

    what amount do you recommend citrus acid tsp for a pint?

    • JoAnn Says:

      To use citric acid: drop 1/4 tsp into each pint jar before ladeling hot soup into jars. If you’re using heirloom tomatoes test raw ones with a litmus strip. They may be acidic enough. The newer varieties of tomatoes are hybrids with low acidity, only the older varieties have enough natural acidity to be safe for hot-water-bath-canning without the addition of citric acid. Let me know how you do with this. Hope you enjoy the soup.

  5. Debbie Hopper Says:

    can you water bath can vegetable soup with hamburger meat and macaroni in it?

    • JoAnn Says:

      Debbie, it is not safe to water-bath any food item with low acidity. I recommend you freeze anything with meat and pasta in it. Pressure cookers are required to can any meat or fish with (or without) pasta. Most vegetables and fruits require processing in a pressure cooker unless they are high in natural acidity or in pickling brine. If you’re not sure if its safe to water-bath something, freeze it or pressure cook it in sterilized jars. Pressure cookers are cheap to buy, or you borrow one from your neighbor, sister, aunt or Mom.

  6. dar Says:

    is there a safety issue with not using a pressure canner? I dont have one and would prefer not to have to invest in one. Imagine we woudl eat the soup within 3 months

    • JoAnn Says:

      If you’re going to eat it within 3 months, best to freeze it. Any food that is low in acidity is potentially unsafe to water-bath can. Botulism is extremely dangerous result of improper canning methods. Be safe and buy a pressure cooker. It doesn’t have to be a 20 quart size…you can buy a 4 qt size cheap at Target or WalMart. Garage sales or flea markets are also good places to look for cheap pressure cookers.

  7. Receta fácil de sopa de verduras - Chef de Lujo Says:

    […] Imagen: This Dame Cooks […]

  8. canning tomatoes Says:

    canning foods are indeed a great way to save money. Thanks for a great article.

    • JoAnn Says:

      Its mango season here in Puerto Rico and I’m canning chutney and jam this weekend. My tomatoes are on now so should have a bumper crop for soup, juice, and sun-dried in the next month or so. Happy preserving to you and thanks for dropping by my blog.

  9. Amber Parnell Says:

    If you use a pressure canner, how long does it can for and at what pressure?? Also, can you use any ingredient (i.e. beans) as long as it is Vegan/Vegetarian or is this vegetables only??

    • JoAnn Says:

      Amber, You can preserve any vegetable including beans in a pressure cooker. Check out the instructions and tables for canning in Better Homes & Garden Cookbook, Joy of Cooking, American Family Cookbook to name a few. There are canning instructions with every pressure cooker and with new Ball jars. Also your local farm extension office will have complete instructions for canning vegetables as well as meat and fish. Let me know how you do.

  10. 1840farm Says:

    Thanks for the post. I have quart jars of homemade tomato soup processing in the boiling water canner right now and wanted to get yet another opinion as to its safety. I have used heirloom tomatoes and added 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice to each jar.

    I reserved one half jar to check its pH later (after I’ve purchased litmus strips). I’ll post what I find later. Until then, I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

  11. Kim Says:

    Like an idiot I added the amount of lemon juice rather than converting from citric acid. Do you think I can just re-boil the soup for 10 minutes before using to kill any bacteria? I would hate to throw away all the soup 😦

    • JoAnn Says:

      If you used a pressure cooker to can the soup there shouldn’t be a problem. Check that jars have sealed and check lids for any bulging before opening jars. If there is any foul odor or frothing do not use.

      • Kim Says:

        Thanks! I didn’t use a pressure cooker, just boiling water but all are sealed and happy! I’ll make sure to keep an eye on them. I really appreciate the recipe and help!

  12. JoAnn Says:

    Use the litmus test before sealing the jar as the citric acid is in the jar, not cooked with the veggies. Ohio State University guidelines for canning tomatoes is a keeper.

  13. localkitchen Says:


    Thanks much for the link to ColeParmer! I do play around with tomato sauce recipes and have often wished I could find a good source of reliable pH testing – I shall have to try these pH strips.


  14. localkitchen Says:

    I’ve tried the litmus paper test but had limited luck with tomato-based foods, as it generally relies on color change that is already in the orange-yellow area. I think I’m just spoiled; back in my lab days I had an ultra-sensitive pH probe meter – little did I know that I should have stuffed it into my gym bag at some point and smuggled it home! 🙂

    • JoAnn Says: has food quality pH meters for $60 and a very good grade of plastic litmus strips for $9.50.
      All that said, pressure cooking veggies is still the safest method, so long as jars are properly sealed and stored in cool, dark pantries.
      This has been a worthwhile exercise, thanks for bringing up this important food safety issue.

  15. localkitchen Says:

    The soup looks delicious, but do you think it is acidic enough for safe canning in a water bath? These days, the recommendation is to add acid (lemon juice, vinegar or citric acid) even to straight tomatoes, which are right on the line of “safe” acidity at pH 4.6. This recipe looks like about 50:50 tomatoes and non-acidic veggies, which could boost the pH much higher than the safe level. It’s possible that if you are always using heirloom tomatoes, you would never see a problem – I’ve read somewhere that heirloom tomatoes are much more acidic, and that’s why in “days of old” it was safe to can tomatoes without any added acid. Modern tomato varieties were bred to reduce acidity, and therefore need the addition of acid, or canning in a pressure cooker.

    I’m far from an expert, but then again, botulism isn’t something I want to mess around with!

    • JoAnn Says:

      You can check the pH with litmus paper to verify the acidity level. With or without the litmus test, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to add citric acid to this recipe. Use 1/2 tsp citric acid per quart of tomatoes (2 tsp for this recipe). You can also add some green tomatoes to the mix and that will lower the pH also since unripened tomatoes are higher in acidity. My mother-in-law, age 86, still cans this soup every summer with BWB. In all cases you want to use the freshest tomatoes, straight from the living vine is best. And be meticulous about scrubbing the veggies and jars before sterilizing in a roiling boil.
      Thanks for the comments.

      • JoAnn Says:

        I’ve updated the post to include citric acid, 1/2 tsp in each jar before ladling-in the soup. I’m making soup this weekend and will give it the litmus test also.

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