Tag Archives: hearty

Beef & Barley (and everything else) Soup

Fritz’s parents arrive today!

His dad has a conference in the city next week, so they both decided to come early for a Father’s Day weekend visit.  Fritz and I are so excited to see them, it’s ridiculous.

I wanted to make a big pot of soup that I could keep in the fridge for those moments when someone is hungry but everyone else isn’t, or for a quick lunch, or those post-plane moments when you need sustenance in five minutes or death by starvation is imminent.

You know those moments.

Since we had a busy day yesterday, I want to reintroduce you to one of my good friends:  the Crock Pot.

Beef and Barley (and everything else) Soup

No ingredient list here, because every time I make this soup, it’s different.  Depends on what I have in the fridge and the cupboards.

Spray the Crock Pot with canola oil to get things going and start off with a meat and those important savory soup ingredients–for this soup, I used an onion and the tops with 1/2 lb of ground beef.  You could use anything–chicken, leftover steak, whatever.

I then added a giant pile of washed and chopped escarole.

Next, toss in the dried ingredients that are so convenient to have in the cupboard for moments like these.  I used 1/2 C barley, 1/2 C black beans, and about 1/4 C of lima beans.  These are very rough estimations.

Top with some salt ‘n’ peppa, a few sprigs of fresh thyme from the herb garden, and of course, a few bay leaves.  I also added two chicken bouillon cubes (that’s equivalent to two cups of broth once I add the water).

Finish off the whole thing with a can of diced tomatoes and several cans of water (I think I used the tomato can five times, which would be 14 ounces x five–a lot.  There’s a lot of dried things in there that will absorb a large quantity of water).

Set the Crock Pot on low for six hours, and go back to your to-do list for the day.  Once everything is accomplished, your soup will be ready to go.

Gorgeous, ain’t it?

I find it quite easy to see the beauty in beef and barley, especially when it involves my mom’s Hadley soup crock.  Love that thing.

The best part about this soup is that it is so versatile.  Last time I made this, I had no escarole, but I used turnips, added lentils, carrots, and garlic, and it came out beautifully.  Use up whatever you have that’s in danger of going to waste, and you are all set.

Have a beautiful day today!

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Beer-Braised Pork and Bean Soup (Crock Pot)

Wow.  I had the most intense workout ever at the gym today.

I only went twice this week, and not even once the week before (midterms, ya know), so this morning I woke up motivated and ready to get back to my normal routine.  I went to my usual Friday morning total body conditioning class, but our instructer stepped it up fifty notches a notch.  We were lifting weights, doing squats, doing more squats, and workin’ our abs–one set for 45 seconds, rest for 15 seconds, and repeat for a second set. On to the next muscle group, and like so for an entire hour.  My heartrate didn’t go down for a second after the first five minutes of class.

And now I feel like a giant bowl of shaky jello legs.

What a relief to come home to a big hearty bowl of soup–hopefully the last of the “winter soups” for the year.

Beer-Braised Pork and Bean Soup (Crock Pot)

  • 1 lb pork (I used pork chops but I definitely would have used a (cheaper) shoulder or butt roast if I had one around)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 C dried beans, rinsed (I used navy, garbanzo, lima, and black beans)
  • 2 bottles beer–as a non-beer drinker, the type doesn’t matter much to me because it all tastes the same.  Those of you who disagree, use your special microbrews or whatever
  • 4 C beef/chicken/veggie broth
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 t sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

As with all crock pot soups (that’s why I love ’em!) this is quick-‘n’-easy.

Add the pork, onion, tomatoes, and spices into the pot.  Cover with the dried, rinsed beans and mix.

Pour a little beer over the top.

Actually, just pour in a lot.  We’re looking for that beery, cowboy, pork-and-beans on the open range taste here.

Add the broth, give it a good stir, and cover.  Set to cook on low for eight to ten hours.

While your soup is slowly cooking up a storm, check out how adorable Henry is, all snuggled up in his favorite spot on a rainy day:

I’m pretty sure Henry spends at least half of the day on the bed, rotating from the pillow on the left to the pillow on the right to foot of the bed on the left to foot of the bed on the right and so on and so forth.

It’s a good life.

Once the soup is ready (beans tender), remove the pork and pull it apart with forks.  Pork is the perfect meat for slow cooked stews.  Cheap and tough cuts of meat become tender and delicious.  Pigs were born for this.

Is that insenstive?  Sorry.

Open-range rugged rancher pork and beans taste achieved.  Perfection for the last winter soup of the year. 

See you tomorrow for a baking update!

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Meatless Monday: 17 Bean Soup

Yeah, I know it’s not Monday, but I got busy studying last night (seriously!), and didn’t have a chance to post this until this morning.  Just pretend it’s not Tuesday for the next few minutes and we’ll be all set.

I thought it might be interesting to look up Meatless Mondays because my dad mentioned to me that it’s related to a lot of, shall we say, enthusiastic anti-meat campaigns.  I am clearly not anti-meat.  In fact, I am very pro-meat.  Too much, really, since I forget about vegetables and that’s largely why I decided to institute Meatless Mondays in the first place.  That and the cute alliteration.

I thought I was so clever thinking up the name, but it turns out that “Meatless Mondays” was coined during WWI (along with “Wheatless Wednesdays”) by the FDA to encourage families to help with the war effort.  It was reinstated in the second world war, and since then has been used by various campaigns for environmental and public health awareness.  I am all for awareness, but I wanted to differentiate between my Meatless Monday (eat more veggies!) and other campaigns (eat less meat!).  Though I won’t enter the issue of animal rights and ethics (since I’d like to let you have your own opinion), from what I’ve read, eating meat (even red meat) isn’t bad for you–unless you aren’t eating in moderation.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?  Like my dad wisely said,

“We’ve always known it’s most important to eat with moderation, variety, and balance”.

At least I think that’s what he said.  Something like that.

Anyway,

17 Bean Soup

  • 1 package Trader Joe’s dried 17 Bean mix (or whatever beans and grains you like)
  • 1 (large) leek, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • handful of baby carrots, chopped
  • 2 radishes, peeled and diced
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 4 C veggie broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves

I saw this and couldn't resist buying--there's no way I'd ever buy 17 bags of dried beans and barley so it was nice to have a mix!

First, soak the beans overnight–cover so there are two inches of water on top of the beans and leave in the fridge.  Next day, rinse the beans with cool water a few times and let them drain.

Peel and dice the veggies, trying to keep them of roughly equal sizes so they cook evenly.  Cook them over medium-high heat in a large pot (that’s a lot of vegetables!) in a few tablespoons of olive oil until they are softened and smell good enough to…well, eat.

Put them in the biggest pot you have, because I always make waay too much soup.

Mom bought me this pot last year and it's perfect for moments just like this

This is the fun part.  The reason I love making soup (and I definitely got this from my mom), is that you can add whatever you want and it almost always tastes amazing because soup is really easy to adjust!  I wasn’t going to add tomatoes at first, but when I tasted it I felt that it was lacking something–then I threw in some bay leaves, thyme, and a lot of freshly ground black pepper.  Sorry Fritz!  I love really peppery soups on a cold day.

I thought you might be amused to see the massive amount of leftovers I have.  Luckily Fritz and I bought some screw-top Gladware that we use to bring soup to school for lunch–hot soup really hits the spot at school when you are exhausted and need a pick-me-up.

wow.

I know.  It’s ridiculous.

Before I leave (to go study more…ugh!), I thought I’d give you a quick peak into the real mastermind behind my cookery.  Have you seen Ratatouille?  Henry is very much like the rat and he really knows how to put a meal together.  Here he is consulting the spice chart that Mom gave me (and I grew up using):

"Thyme? Or is this really more of a sage situation?"

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Garlic and Sage Bread and Cinnamon Lamb Stew

I’m so sad to see the weekend leave, but Fritz and I had a great day–a lot of cooking and finishing the third season of LOST.  It was a perfect day for it, because it was gray but not rainy so the windows were open and  the cool air made making fall food finally feel appropriate.  Which you know makes me happy.

The other day I made Overnight Oats, with a recipe I borrowed from this website (it’s a healthy eating blog that I recently started reading as I needed some inspiration for this blog…add it to your favorites! It’s a good one!).  Anyway, I loved the idea of cold oatmeal in the morning (I add uncooked oatmeal to my Grape-nuts  in the morning ’cause I like the texture), but I didn’t exactly love the way it turned out.  Definitely good, very filling, but not perfect…yet.  But it will be!  And when I perfect a recipe, I’ll put it up.  But in the meantime, I’d love some suggestions if you guys try your own versions.

On another note, I got two new cookbooks recently.  Now, if you know me, you know I love cookbooks and kitchen gadgets, ever since I got some wooden spoons as a Christmas gift when I was seven(ish).  So full of new possibilities!  The next two recipes are from my two new books, One Pot and 100 Best Health Foods.

First, I decided to make Garlic and Sage Bread, mostly because I felt like using my mixer and I’ve been baking too many sweet things lately.  I have sage in my herb garden and I rarely use it, but who would’ve known it’s one of 1oo best health foods.  Sage, among other things, has strong antioxidant, antibacterial, and preservative effects. Cool.  Also helps with symptoms of arthritis (Mom!).

Garlic and Sage Bread

  • 1 3/4 C whole wheat bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 3 T chopped fresh sage
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 t honey
  • 2/3 C lukewarm water

 

Set aside 1 t of the garlic, and the first four ingredients and the remaining garlic into a mixing bowl.  Make a well in the center and pour in the honey and the water.  Stir until the dough begins to come together, and then knead on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes until elastic (or, use your mixer until smooth and elastic).  Brush a bowl with oil and shape the dough into a ball, place it in the bowl, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel to prevent drying out). 

Brush a baking sheet with oil, punch down the dough, and shape into a ring.  Place on the baking sheet, and place an oiled bowl in the center to prevent the circle from closing in while rising.  Leave to rise for half an hour.

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Remove the bowl from the center of the loaf, and sprinkle with the reserved garlic (I opted out of this part) and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when the base is tapped.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool, and spread slices with cream cheese (or not–tastes great without it!).

This bread was quick and easy to make, didn’t rise a huge amount, and makes the cutest little slices.  It perfectly accompanied the next recipe, Cinnamon Lamb Stew.

Cinnamon Lamb Stew

  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 lbs lean boneless lamb (I actually used bone-in stew meat, which I cooked whole and then cubed later)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 lg onions, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/4 C red wine
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 12 0z canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 C seedless raisins
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • plain greek yogurt and paprika to garnish

 

Season the lamb with salt and pepper to taste, and flour the lamb (shake it up in a plastic bag!) and set aside.  Heat the oil in a large pot and cook the onions and garlic until soft, about five minutes.  Add the lamb and cook over high heat until browned on all sides.  Stir in the wine, vinegar, and tomatoes and bring to a boil, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.  Reduce the heat to low and add the raisins, cinnamon, sugar, and bay leaf.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and cover and simmer for 2 hours or until the lamb is tender. 

I served with barley and topped with a generous spoonful of plain greek yogurt (the recipe suggests adding garlic and salt to the yogurt, but I’m not a huge garlic fan so I stuck with plain).  Discard the bay leaf and serve hot, dusted with paprika (like any good part-Hungarian would).

 

Now snuggle up with a movie and a blanket, and eat the first of many fall stews I hope you make!

Tomorrow Fritz is going on a fun adventure called “Looking At And Possibly Buying A Car”, which is an operation we’ve tried several times and have yet to call a success.  Hopefully tomorrow will be better–a 2003 Nissan Sentra with 94,000 miles for $4,000.  Sounds good, right?  I’ll let you know how that goes…and don’t forget to try overnight oats!

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