Monday morning came too soon! I had several meetings at work, one off site, so it was a very busy day. I did manage to get to Westborn at lunch for my veggies and herbs, though.
I also got a nice gift. Michelle returned my soup containers, one that she refilled with the beef barley soup she had made over the weekend! She said she couldn't confirm my cabbage soup was "authentic" but her family voted on it and decided it was "yummy!" She did add more chicken stock to it (I noticed the lack of broth in it, myself).
Back at home, I had a big debate with myself. On the one hand, I wanted to get the crap out of the front ditch so the grass could grow back. On the other, it was cold and windy. Finally, I made myself get out there and get 'er done!
Back inside, I started a project I have wanted to try. It's an America's Test Kitchen recipe for beef and vegetable soup that's supposed to taste like you simmered it all day, but can be make in just over an hour!
So, when I went grocery shopping, I picked up some beef tip steak (in a "family" pack, there were two one-pound steaks for just $3.00 a pound). They recommend buying the steaks rather than "beef tips" as you don't always know what you are getting, then. This is their recommended cut of beef, not too fat and not too lean.
Anyway, I opened the family pack, put one in a baggie and then into the freezer. The other I put on a plate and also into the freezer (meat is easier to cut raw when chilled).
Then I diced a large onion (medium dice) and quartered a pound of Cremini mushrooms. I took out the steak and trimmed the little fat there was on it. Then I cut it into 1/2 inch cubes (small enough to cook fast, but big enough not to fall apart). I combined the cubed meat with two tablespoons of soy sauce and set it aside.
Then I got my Dutch oven out and put in a tablespoon of vegetable oil. I heated that over medium-high heat until it just started smoking. I added in the mushrooms and onions and cooked them, stirring frequently, until the onions turned brown and dark bits were forming on the pan bottom (you want these!) say 8 to 12 minutes. Then I transferred them to a bowl.
Next I put in the beef and cooked it, stirring occasionally, until the soy sauce evaporated and the meat started to brown (6 to 10 minutes). Then I added 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and a minced garlic clove, stirring constantly, until aromatic (maybe 30 seconds).
About this time, my daughter Melissa called. So, I turned off the heat and let it set while we talked. When we finished (a long time later) I turned the heat back on and continued. Fortunately, since I was using the cast iron Dutch oven, it never really got cold.
I added 1/2 cup of red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the browned bits, and cooked it until it was syrupy (a couple of minutes). Then I added a quart of store-bought beef stock, 1 3/4 cup of homemade chicken stock, about two cups of peeled carrots (cut into 1/2 inch pieces) and 3/4 cup of celery (also 1/2 inch pieces), a bay leaf and the browned mushrooms and onions. I brought it to a boil, then turned it to simmer and covered it.
Now, the recipe says 25 to 30 minutes. But, I can't see how you can call it "beef and vegetable soup" if the only vegetables are carrots and celery. So, I used their "optional" suggestions and after 15 minutes, I added 2 cups of 1/2 inch diced peeled redskin potatoes. And, during the last five minutes of cooking time, I added one cup of frozen corn.
Now, here's the trick that's supposed to give you the mouth feel of a soup that's been simmering for hours. I added one tablespoon of powdered, unflavored gelatin to 1/2 cup of cold water and let it stand while the soup simmered.
When the soup was done cooking, I took it off the heat and removed the bay leaf. I added the gelatin mixture and stirred it until it was completely dissolved. Then I added two tablespoons of minced fresh parsley, tasted it and adjusted the seasoning with salt and pepper.
I had tasted it all through the cooking process, of course. and it was late, so I just had one small bowl. The potatoes were a little undercooked, but it was excellent!
Satisfied, I went to watch some TV and then go to bed.