Sunday, April 15, 2012

Wholesome and Hearty

For today's culinary offering, I have Vegetable Beef Soup.  This recipe comes from my Aunt Caitilin and her family out in California, so you have them to thank (or curse when you scald you mouth on hot soup cause it smells too tasty to wait).  The great thing about this recipe is that it's pretty easy, and you can throw in the vegetables that you have on hand (fresh or frozen, no need to be picky). The prep work takes a little time, but once the soup is going, you can pretty much ignore it.

What You'll Need
Knife for chopping                                                        Measuring cup
Cutting board                                                                Measuring spoons
Potato peeler                                                                 Soup pot or Cast iron dutch oven
1 Tbsp olive oil                                                             1 cup water
1 1/2 pounds stew meat                                              1 (14 1/2 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 yellow onion                                                              1 tsp chili powder
2 tsps minced garlic                                                     1 tsp soy sauce
2 stalks celery                                                              1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2-3 carrots                                                                   1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 red bell pepper                                                       2 bay leaves
2 russet potatoes                                                          1 1/4 tsp salt
1 cup frozen cut green beans                                       Black pepper to taste
3 cups beef stock                                                          1 cup frozen corn
3 cups tomato juice                                                      1 cup frozen peas

Now Let's Make Vegetable Beef Soup
Meat and onions!
Let's start with some of that prep work I mentioned.  Begin by dicing your onions. Start by removing the non-root end. Slice through the onion in vertical lines, stopping just short of the root and working your way around the onion. Turn the onion so that the root faces parallel and away from your knife and begin chopping for a quick dice. Once diced, put 1 Tbsp olive oil in your soup pot and warm over medium heat. Add the onions and the stew meat and let them begin to saute. Stir occasionally, but move on to the rest of your prep work.

Take your two stalks of celery (give 'em a good wash, grocery store celery is filthy) and begin chopping.  Once chopped, gather the celery into a pile and dice by rocking your knife across the pile.  Repeat these steps until you've achieved a fine mince (I hate celery, so it has to be very tiny for me).  Next, cut your red bell pepper in half and remove the stem and the white, seeded flesh inside.  Set one half aside for another day. Hold your half pepper down with one hand and slice vertically along the pepper in thin lines. Gather these together, turn and chop across them until the entire half pepper is diced. Add the celery and red pepper to your sauteing meat and onions. Don't forget to stir occasionally!

Do NOT peel yourself, trust me.
Next, take your potatoes and carrots and peel them (best do this over a sink or trash bag).  Hold the vegetable in one hand and apply the peeler in swift strokes moving away from your body.  Rinse the vegetables once peeled in order to remove any dirt that got on the flesh during the peeling process. Beginning at the tip, slice the carrot into thin rounds. Discard the carrot top.  If you're working with large carrots, you'll only need two and you may need to halve the larger rounds that were cut closer to the top of the carrot. If you're working with smaller carrots, you may need three.  Next, coarsely chop the potatoes into chunks.  The easiest way to do this is to quarter the potato, and then chop those pieces up.

Add the potatoes and carrots to the soup pot, along with 2 tsps of minced garlic.  Now, measure out and add 3 cups of beef stock, 3 cups of tomato juice, and 1 cup of water. Stir everything together well.

Open the can of tomatoes, and add them to the pot, juice and all (do NOT drain).  Add 1 cup of frozen cut green beans.  Next, measure out and add 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 running over tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 2 bay leaves, 1 1/4 tsp of salt, and as much ground pepper as you'd like to the soup.  Stir well.  Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and let simmer for about an hour (or more, it'll only add flavor), stirring occasionally.  

I swear there's corn in there somewhere
About 15 minutes before you're ready to serve (or after an hour), measure out and add 1 cup of frozen whole corn kernels and 1 cup of frozen peas.  At this point, your meat should be nice and tender. If it's not, you might want to hold off on this step for a bit. Also, feel free to use fresh veggies if you have them on hand; since it's not quite summer yet, I didn't.  Stir well, and allow to cook uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves if you're picky and serve along with a delicious slice of Irish Soda Bread.  The perfect pairing.  Enjoy with friends and family (see I do feed my Lovely Assistant Jen)!


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