Booyah {a soup tradition of the Upper Midwest}

This Booyah recipe is steeped in tradition, and full of warmth, comfort, and absolute deliciousness.

Booyah {a soup tradition of the Upper Midwest} from


Have you ever eaten a bowl full of Booyah? Have you ever been to a Booyah? That’s right. This fun-to-say word is both a soup and an event, mostly making their appearances in northern and northeastern Wisconsin, parts of Minnesota, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

I had no clue about this booyah tradition until a just few years ago when friends of ours invited us to theirs. The invitation read “You’re invited to the Booyah!”, and it talked about eating booyah. We didn’t know what we were in for. But how could we not be curious? Of course, we had to accept.

You’re gonna love this rich and flavorful Booyah recipe I’m sharing with you today, scaled down in quantity from traditional mega-batch recipes made in giant kettles to feed the masses. Yes, this one can be enjoyed wherever you live, from your very own kitchen. But…if you’re ever invited to a Booyah, please promise me you’ll go!


a kettle of booyah at the Booyah! from a

Booyah is a rich and flavorful soup, absolutely delicious, made in huge batches in “booyah kettles”. The photo above is the booyah kettle owned by our friends, Jason and Dianna. They were the ones who introduced us to this tradition of the Upper Midwest.

Jason and Dianna have been inviting friends and neighbors to their annual fall Booyah for the past 6 years now. Each year the recipe is tweaked and the invite list is lengthened, currently at over 100 guests. The actual date of the event is dictated by the availability of Dianna’s brother’s cover band the Lid Twisters, who provide live entertainment all evening long. A tent is set up in their backyard with seating and long tables to hold all the side dishes and desserts brought by guests. Friends and neighbors catch up on the latest while kids run and play. It’s a beautiful fall scene.

It was Dianna who first suggested to her husband that they open up their home and backyard to this Booyah experience. And when her dad heard the idea, he jumped in with an offer to help. Growing up in South St. Paul, attending Booyahs at various churches and local festivals was a regular part of life for Dianna’s family.

When I asked Dianna to share a little bit about their booyah making process, she referred to a spreadsheet that her dad has created, listing ingredients and timing. Isn’t that awesome? It goes something like this:

  • The day before, pre-cook all on-the-bone meats (to include short ribs, chicken, and oxtails – plus soup bones for extra flavor). Save liquid for broth the next day. Remove all bones and discard.
  • The day of, at 4:00 am, light the fire outside under the 20-gallon booyah kettle and add the broth, dried beans, onions, parsley, cubed pork and beef, pork brisket, crushed fresh garlic, and plenty of flavorful dried herbs and spices.
  • At 6:00 am, add the meats that were cooked and de-boned the day before.
  • At noon, add the rutabagas.
  • At 2:00, add the cabbage, carrots, celery, green peppers, and potatoes.
  • At 3:00, add the canned peas, corn, green beans, and whole tomatoes.
  • At 5:00, soup’s on! Or should I say booyah’s on?!

It’s quite evident that hosting a Booyah is no small ordeal. There’s lots of time and energy involved to pull the event off, not to mention massive quantities of ingredients.

You also need commitment. He he. I have to retell the story that Dianna told me, about the one year when she got up at 4:00 am, lit the fire, and added the broth and other ingredients to the pot. Tired, she went back to bed. She completely missed the 6:00 addition of meats, and what was in the pot ended up burning. Dianna called her dad in a panic, and they decided to proceed as normal, hoping the burned ingredients would just give the booyah some extra flavor. It all turned out alright. But the following year, and every year since, Dianna says that her dad shows up at their house by 3:30 am, just to make sure everything goes according to the spreadsheet. ;)

Cook's Country Eats Local cookbook review from

For the majority of us, we will never buy a 20-gallon booyah kettle and spend a couple days preparing this feast of a celebration for our family and friends. That’s where the downsized recipe I’m sharing with you now comes in ultra handy. The recipe is from the new Cook’s Country Eats Local cookbook. If you know about Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen, then you know that this recipe has been tried, and tried again, until it reached ultimate perfection.

Cook's Country Eats Local cookbook review from

This new cookbook features 150 recipes from around the country, arranged by region. There are many recipes I’ve heard of, but even more that I have not. I’m especially looking forward to trying Fudgy Tar Heel Pie and King Ranch Casserole.

Besides the variety of interesting recipes, I really liked that each one was accompanied by a “why this recipe works” section, explaining the reasons for using certain methods and ingredients. Most recipes also included other tidbits of info, such as additional history about the recipe, variations on the recipe, or helpful hints and photos.

Cook's Country Eats Local Giveaway from

If you’d like the chance to win a copy of Cook’s Country Eats Local, click here!

Booyah {a soup tradition of the Upper Midwest} from

This recipe, even though it was scaled down from a full-fledged booyah recipe, still requires quite a bit of hands-on work, plus a good amount of time (essential for full flavor and tender meats). But I promise you, it’s absolutely worth it.

Booyah {a soup tradition of the Upper Midwest} from

The broth is heavenly, super flavorful with a gorgeous silken quality from the gelatin of the beef bones. And chunks of tender meats and vegetables in every single spoonful make it rich and hearty. If you’re looking for a new fall tradition, maxed out in homemade warmth and comfort, this booyah recipe has my vote.


Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Calories per serving: 642


  • 2-1/2 lbs. bone-in, English-style short ribs, trimmed, meat and bones separated (I used bone-in beef chuck short ribs)
  • 2-1/2 lbs. bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped fine
  • 2 ribs celery, minced
  • 8 c. low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 c. shredded green cabbage
  • 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 8 oz. rutabaga, peeled and cut into ½” pieces
  • 1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½” pieces
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced ¼” thick
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • 1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice


Pat beef and chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and black pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown beef on all sides, about 10 minutes; transfer to plate. Cook chicken until browned all over, about 10 minutes; transfer to plate. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin.

Pour off all but 1-1/2 teaspoons fat from pot. Add onions and celery and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in broth and bay leaves, scraping up any browned bits. Add beef, beef bones, and chicken, and bring to boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until chicken registers 175° F, about 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to bowl. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-size pieces, discarding bones. Cover chicken and refrigerate. Continue to simmer stew until beef is tender, about 1-1/4 hours longer. Transfer beef to plate. When cool enough to handle, shred into bite-size pieces, discarding fat. Remove beef bones and bay leaves. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer; discard solids. Allow liquid to settle, about 5 minutes, then skim off fat and return liquid to pot.

Add shredded beef, cabbage, tomatoes, rutabaga, 1-1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to liquid and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until rutabaga is translucent around edges, about 15 minutes. Stir in potatoes and carrots and cook until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Add chicken and peas, and simmer until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

adapted slightly from Cook’s Country Eats Local


Booyah {a soup tradition of the Upper Midwest} from

Disclosure:  I was given a copy of Cook’s Country Eats Local for my own cookbook collection. I was not compensated to write this post. There are Amazon affiliate links in this post.

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