I had something totally different planned for this week, but the biting temperatures outside my mountaintop home had me longing for soup.

January, which was the first month of this column, featured a new soup recipe every week. As March arrived, I hoped it would be accompanied by warmer weather, but it seems that in spite of Punxatawney Phil's prognostication for an early spring, Mother Nature is in no hurry to send up that first tentative crocus in my neighborhood.

That's why when I arrived home from work earlier this week, and shook the snow from my boots (yes, we still have snow where I live), I was thrilled to be greeted by the aroma of my favorite vegetable beef soup, simmering on the stove.

My husband, who frequently makes dinner during the week, had defrosted the soup from a batch I had made last month and froze.

When the thermometer dips so low, and there doesn't seem to be any way to truly warm up, soup always seems to do the trick.

This Tomatoey Vegetable Beef Soup, which is a recipe from my parents, is loaded with rich tomato flavor. (And by the way, 'tomatoey' is a word, I looked it up!)

It's easy to make, yet hearty. A piece of crusty bread and maybe a salad makes it a meal, although I'm just fine with a nice big mug all by itself.

Tomatoey Vegetable Beef Soup

Makes 8-10 servings

2-3 pounds beef bottom round, cut in half

4 quarts water

1 large or 2-3 medium onions, chopped

5-6 carrots, chopped

4-5 pieces celery, chopped

Additional vegetables as desired (peas, corn, etc.)

1 large can crushed tomatoes

Salt and pepper

Garlic powder, if needed

Beef bouillon cubes, if needed

Place meat in a pot of water and boil. Once it boils, skim foam from top. (This could take a few minutes.)

Add onions, carrots and celery when liquid is clear. Add canned tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove meat from soup and cut into bite-sized cubes; return to pot. Add additional vegetables if desired and simmer until cooked through.

If needed, add a pinch of garlic powder, beef cubes or additional salt and pepper.

Check out Comfort & Joy every Wednesday in the TIMES NEWS. Past recipes are available online at http://www.tnonline.com/lifestyle/comfort-and-joy.