Importance of the soup stock: The most delicious soups are those that begin with a stock. Not only is flavor enhanced but the broth takes on added nutritional value. From the basic broth, diverse soups can be created with the addition of other meats and vegetables. Flavor is imparted automatically through the simmering process, but to extract the maximum nutrition there are a few rules that must be carefully followed.
Save bits of raw vegetables, tops of scallions and celery, tender leaves of beets, tough spinach, stems of watercress and dill, limp outer leaves of lettuce – in other words, all of the otherwise good foodstuffs you normally trow away because they are not esthetically pleasing or simply because you are accustomed to treating them as scraps. These should be well washed and refrigerated in a large jar with a lid. They can be kept up to ten days.
Freeze scraps of leftover meat in plastic containers. Meat bones and the carcasses of game birds, chickens, turkeys, or ducks may also be frozen for use in soup stocks. If poultry has been stuffed, carefully remove any remaining bits from the carcass before freezing.The only vegetables you will not save are potatoes and cabbage.They will cloud the stock and the latter will impart too strong a favor.
Bones contain no vitamins but are high in minerals, with may be extracted from the connective tissue by simmering at about 200F, preferably for at least 1 hour.
Simmering means cooking without letting the liquid boil. Turn your burner as low as possible and only partially cover the soup kettle to keep the soup from boiling. If stocks are simmered with a tight-fitting lid, they may cloud. To overcome this and still retain the nutritional value, cover with a loose-fitting lid or leave the lid slightly ajar.
After you have simmered your soup stock, don’t feel guilty about staring out and discarding the bones and vegetables used to flavor it. The nutrition has passed from these ingredients into the soup liquid where they await your pleasure.
When the stock is cool, refrigerate it until needed, removing any fat that rises to the surface, or you can freeze your stock. The frozen stock will retain peak taste and nutrition 2 to 3 weeks. Good stock recipes you can find it here and here.
Beef & Barley Soup with Mushrooms
This thick and perfect for a cold weather soup is served in a rustic sourdough bread bowl and fresh rosemary and dill.
- 1,5 lb of beef cubes, I used chuck
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 5oz of button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup of pearl barley, rinsed
- 2 bay leafs
- 3 potatoes, diced
- 8 cups of water or stock
- 1 sprig of rosemary, minced
- 2 Tbsp of grapeseed oil
- 2 Tbsp of fresh chopped dill
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan put beef cubes, bay leaf, and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat and regulate it so that the broth boils very gently. Season with the smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook, partially covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
In a large frying pan, heat the or oil over medium heat. Gently sauté the carrots, mushrooms, and onions, together with the rosemary. Cook until the vegetables have softened slightly.
Add the barley, soft vegetable and potatoes to the meat broth. Simmer gently for about 20 minutes, or until the pearl barley is very grapeseed and the potatoes are cooked.
Taste for seasoning, and add some sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Serve with the chopped dill and rosemary in a bread bowl.
I buy the barley from my favorite company - Pleasant Hill Grain, they have an outstanding variety of organically grown grains and seeds.