During the months of winter, it seems that all I am looking forward to at the end of the day, besides the melting of snow, and the warmer temperatures, is a good bowl of hearty soup. It seems that our days are longer and we have to go home in the dark. No matter how you feel, this seems like the right time to find your huge soup pot, discover your favourite soup, and start cooking.
A favourite winter soup of mine is a traditional beef/barley soup, made with browning several soup bones on the bottom of a large soup pot. I turn my burner on high, then add my soup bones. I usually stir it with a wooden spoon, flipping over the bones just once, until each side is slightly browned. I sometimes add diced fresh cloves of garlic, to help keep colds away. Once I have each side nicely browned, I add enough water to cover the bones. Then I place the lid on and wait for the liquid to boil.
While I am waiting for the water to boil, I begin to dice up potatoes, carrots, and add my seasoning of salt and pepper to the boiling water. I throw a single bay leaf into the pot as well.
Usually, by about five minutes, my water has begun to boil. This is when I add my diced potatoes and carrots.Often I also add freshly sliced mushrooms. Sometimes I will vary the variety of mushrooms.
At this point I will also add cubed stewing beef and a cup of rinsed pearl barley. I like to add two dried bay leaves to my soup. These will be removed once my soup is finished.
Finally, when all my ingredients are in to pot, simmering nicely, I take a culinary break, and remind myself to check back on my soup in forty-five minutes. I want to make sure that enough water still covers my soup bones, barley, beef, carrots, and mushrooms.
This beef / barley soup is a staple in my family during the winter time. It takes less than half an hour to prepare, and all you have to do it wait for it to cook once all my ingredients are placed in the pot. That usually takes less than an hour.
If you are planning ahead, make double the quantity and freeze the soup not needed. It will last in the freezer for several weeks. However, do not add potatoes to your soup if you do decide to freeze it. Due to the water content in potatoes, they will become mushy when defrosted. However, you can always add cooked potatoes to your defrosted soup.
Check out these books!
Ferrari, Linda. 2000. Good-For-You Soups & Stews Cookbook. Roseville, CA: Prima Publishing.
Goldstein, Joyce Esersky. 1998. Soup For Supper. San Francisco, CA: Weldon Owen Inc., The Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series.
Marchetti, Domenica. 2006. Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.
Pierce, Gayle. 2009. 100 Soups For $5 or Less. Layton, Utah. Gibbs Smith.
Wohl, Kit. 2009. New Orleans Classic Gumbos & Soups. Gretna, Louisiana: Wohl & Company, Inc.