Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Zesty Beef Vegetable Soup

We'll be eating pretty well for a couple days coming up.  So it's soup tonight and tomorrow.  Soup is a creative outlet, different every time.  It is also a chance to clean out the fridge.  It is comfort food and makes me feel warm, safe and secure.  I was taught that feeling as a kid.  What would you want to pass on, if not that?

Good soup is better the second time.  It freezes well.  It's frugal.  It's a one pot dinner.  Need I say more? 

Zesty Beef Vegetable Soup

3 T. four, 1/2 t. salt, 1/4 t. pepper goes into my 8 x 8 square baking pan.  I defrosted 1 package of beef stew meat yesterday. 

Cut it into the size pieces you want to eat.  Stew meat doesn't come cut small enough.  Also, take the time to cut off anything you don't want to eat. 

Now into the flour mixture.  Turn it with a big spoon to coat the meat with the flour. 

Why are we doing this?  The flour is a natural thickener and will help to thicken the sauce slightly.  Also, the next step will brown the meat in oil.  The browned bits of floury outside will add flavor and texture.  

The next step is called braising.  Put 2 T. of good oil in the bottom of the soup pot and get it very hot.  I'm using grape seed oil, but anything from canola to olive oil is fine.  Add the meat piece by piece, moving it around with a large spoon and/or tongs.  Careful, 'cause it's hot.   Turn the meat as it browns.  The point of braising is to brown the outside.  With braising, you are expecting another cooking method to fully cook the inside of the meat.  This can be baking, roasting, stewing and maybe a couple other things.    

More good stuff.  1 (14 1/2 oz) can crushed tomatoes, 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce, 2 T. red wine vinegar, 2 T. Worcestershire sauce, 3 garlic cloves minced, 1 t. dried oregano, 3 cups beef broth. 

Oh, and a shallot finely chopped.  On that note, this is the creature that I mean.  A small mild red onion.  I like them.  Actually, I like them, a lot.  But recently, I've heard people call green onions shallots.

Alright with me, but I don't much use green onions.  This is what I like.  Or you could use a 1/4 of a big white one.  Or more if you want.  Cooking is a very small part of the day when it is all about me.  The rest of the day, it is all about other people.  So be happy and do what you want.

Now vegetables.  Here is the time you can express yourself with your favorites.  Or you can just clean out the veggie drawer.  Up to you.  I recommend carrots and potatoes.  Winter veggies such as broccoli or cauliflower are good.  A turnip or zucchini is another common choice.  I often use a can of green beans and a can of corn along with what ever I've got fresh.  Here it is today.  Cauliflower from a previous meal in the upper right corner.  Carrots and potatoes (more potatoes would be good.)  Frozen corn in the lower right, frozen peas.  The lower left is black beans from my freezer.  I previously cooked a bag of dried beans for another dish and froze the remainder.  I add beans to soup not because I love beans but because I hear they are good for us.  That's just me. I also added a 1/2 dozen crimini mushrooms quartered. 

Total cook time from the start of the meat is somewhere around 2 hours.  About that time, I start scooping out a piece of meat and a couple chunks of vegetables and sample for doneness.  When the meat is done and tender and the veggies are soft you can serve, although additional slow simmer time doesn't hurt anything and helps the flavors to marry.

On another subject, you do not want to be the next person in a store, customer, vendor or neighbor who asks me if I'm "ready" for Christmas.  Just saying.


  1. Really, what is ready anyway? I have reached the point, if it is not done, it is not needed. Have the best Christmas ever, Merry Christmas LeAnn and family.

  2. Well, ARE you ready for Christmas? Ha, ha, couldn't resist. Merry Christmas, LeAnn, whether you are "ready" or not!