Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Beef Soup

Sometimes even the simplest recipes can be the best. This is one of those times. You may not realise this, but I tend to cook without recipes. Now, I do have a very good idea of where I'm going with a dish, what food/herb/spices goes well with whatever, what technique works with what type of meat or veggie or fruit, etc. Around 75% of the time, it's turns out great and everyone enjoys it. Perhaps 20% it's a so-so, but plates and bowls are still empty. The remaining 5% is split between, "let's not have that again", and "HOLY SHIT! This is the best darned thing I've ever tasted! Whatever you did write it down so you don't forget cus we all want to have this every meal for the next century!!!"

This soup dish fell into the final category. *pat, pat, patting myself on back*

It involved a bit of leftover too. I'm very good with leftovers. If I was on Iron Chef and Chairman Kaga announced the theme ingredient of Leftovers, then I'd blow them all away! I'd even take them all on at once! Ha! It's gotten to the point where I actually plan for leftovers and have sorta figured out what I'll do with them for lunch the next day. Like this morning, for example. Had some leftover mashed spuds and some leftover sugared carrots. Hmmmmmm, add some bread crumbs, an egg, some seasonings, mix it all together and form into patties. Fry in leftover bacon fat. TaDa: great potato cakes!

Meat is also hard for me cus I've got to make it so my MIL can eat it (and like it too). Hmmmm, 80 yrs old, suffering from Crohn's Disease for the last 60 years (had 5 operations in her twenties and don't have much guts left), not many molars left, and her medications makes her taste buds have wild moods swings. For instance; she's loved lamb her whole life, then about a year ago she said she can't stand the taste of it no matter what is done. Sigh... Beef is even harder cus she loves the taste, but it has to be cooked very carefully for her so that's it's very tender. Needless to say, grilled steaks are out for her (but not for me!). Fish is no problem for her, but shellfish has to be cooked certain ways for her. Even chicken has to be cooked carefully for her... But at least I've gotten them to like spices! Keep in mind, these people used to have seizures if more than one small grind of pepper was put into 2 gallons of soup.

Now, since this post is titled Beef Soup, can you guess which type of land-based protein critter is to be used????? Yup, it's BEEF. All of our really tender good beef is very very very very expensive, so we buy cheap cuts and then I get creative.

To get the beef tender enough for her and for the onions to really "cook in" I knew I'd need to start this soup about lunchtime. Fortunately, it's like maybe 5 mins of work every couple of hours.

Here's what you need:

4 small, tough, cheap, possibly inedible, beef rump steaks
1 leftover baked potato
1 medium onion (rough chopped)
2 fresh carrots (diced)
lots of water
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp dried basil
2 tbsp dried oregano
lots of salt
1 to 2 tsp ground black pepper
bacon fat
2 potatoes (peeled and diced)
1/4 cup unbleached flour
one really big pot with a lid
a wok
wooden spoon for stirring
some sort of heat producing device, I recommend the side burner of your gas grill
fresh baked cobb for dunkers
serviettes (napkins to you US'ns)

Well, those last ten you can probably figure out on your own, I guess.

What you do:

Cube the beef. Try to trim off as much of the grisle and fat as you can. The cubes should be the size of small dice. Heat half (about 2 tbsp) the bacon fat in your big soup pot, and add the cubed beef in just BEFORE the bacon fat starts to smoke. Fry it up for a minute or two, turning frequently so all sides of the cubes are well browned. Yes, you'll have some stuff start to stick to your soup pot but don't worry.

Now add a couple of cups of water. Stir well while using your wooden spoon to scrap all the really good tasting bits off the bottom of the pot. Once that is done, fill the pot to 3/4 full and turn the heat down waaaaaaay low. Add the rough chopped onions, the bay leaves, basil, oregano, pepper, some salt (you can always add more later). 

Put the lid on it and go away for an hour. This may be a good time to take a nap :)

After an hour, top up the water level to 3/4 and give the broth a taste. Add more salt if needed and whatever other seasoning you think may help. Add the diced carrot it.

Put the lid on it and go away for another hour. Hmmmm, time for another nap perhaps?

Oh yeah: if you didn't make a fresh cobb pull-apart loaf of bread this morning, then you really should have started that BEFORE you took your FIRST nap.

After the next hour, skin the leftover roast spud and chop it up finely. Add to the soup, and top the water back up to 3/4 of the pot. Taste the broth, and adjust the seasonings. Dig out the 3 bay leaves and chuck em. Turn the heat off and let it sit for an hour COVERED.

After that third hour (and another nap???), heat the rest of the bacon fat (about 2 tbsp) in a wok and add the diced potato. Fry and toss for around two mins. Then sprinkle with the flour, stir it around, and add to the soup. Put the soup pot back on low heat for 30 mins.

Serve that sucker up in some LARGE bowls cus I can tell you everyone will want lots and lots. Fresh bread for dunkers!

This is really good, I'm not joking.

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