Cut through the meat to separate it from the bones. Cut the meat into one-inch cubes.
Place the meat and bones in a large cooking pot. Pour in the broth. Add some salt or fish sauce. Bring to the boil. Skim off scum as it rises. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for two to two-and-a-half hours, depending on the quality of the meat. Do whatever you like while the meat cooks.
When the meat is tender, prepare the vegetables. Peel the potatoes and cut into quarter-inch cubes. Core the cabbage and roughly chop. Add the vegetables to the pot. Bring to the boil once more. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Taste the broth and add more salt or fish sauce, as needed. Fish out the bones and discard.
Pour the soup into a tureen.
Cut the onion leaves into two-inch lengths. Slice the onion leaves vertically into very fine strips.
Sprinkle the onion leaves on the soup. Add a few twists of cracked black pepper. Serve the soup hot with bread and butter on the side.
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