Sunday, January 27, 2008
Most of you know me know how much I love to eat--I can't do a night of drinking without having a suitable array of snacks, and, as my mother likes to put it, I'm always "thinking about the next meal before [I've] finished this one", a trait I've inherited from my father.
One particular food type I have no use for, though, is soup. Oh, sure, I like my sodium-rich Liptons Chicken Noodle soup when I'm sick, but other than that it really isn't something I go out of my way to eat. Unfortunately, soups tends to be cheap and filling, and freeze well, all of which are important to people who live by themselves. So I've decided that I need to learn to like soup, pronto.
I've mastered my mom's turkey noodle soup, so long as I have a roast turkey carcass, so my next step was to take on a beef based soup. The problem with a lot of beef based soups and stews is that they have tomatoes or tomato paste in them. This is a problem to me because a) I really try to avoid using canned food whenever possible, and b) the acids in the tomatoes tend to give the soup an awful, tinny, acidic taste.
In the spirit of being creative, I struck out on my own on Friday, and created a beef based soup that actually turned out unbelievably good: full of rich beefy taste, complimented by cremini mushrooms and pot barley.
Mushroom, Beef, and Barley Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb. stewing beef, cubed (if they seem large, you can cut them into smaller cubes)
1/2 cup medium dice onion
2 cloves of garlic, finally minced
1 to 1 1/2 cups of cremini or portabello mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine (I use Yellowtail Shiraz as my go to red for drinking and cooking)
1/2 cup pot barley, rinsed**
3 1/2 cups beef broth (I used a combination of Campbells beef broth in a carton and the Bovril instant bouillion mix)
3/4 cup red wine
2 bay leaves
herbs to taste (I used 1/2 tsp dried rosemary)
1) Heat oil/butter in pot over medium heat. Pat cubes of beef dry, season with salt and pepper. Brown in batches in oil. Transfer to a plate
2) Turn heat to medium-low, and add garlic and onion to pan. Allow to cook for five minutes until softened, and then add mushrooms. Allow to cook for another five minutes. Add first 1/4 cup of red wine and deglaze pot by scraping up all browned bits from the bottom. Allow to reduce, so that the mushrooms become infused.
3) Add broth and barley. Allow to come to a boil, then add remaining red wine and bay leaves. Any seasonings can be added here too.
4) Simmer with lid on over low heat for 1 1/2 hours, or until barley is soft and meat is tender enough to cut with a spoon.