Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Don't panic...it's just soup

First off, yay!  I got my pin-cushion from the pin-cushion swap I was involved in.

It was made by Heather from Olive and Ollie http://www.oliveandollie.com/...totally cute stuff.  I love the fabric.  My Youngest has claimed it as her own tiny pillow, and keeps asking me if Mama sewed it.  Nope...Mama didn't sew this one.  Thanks Heather (sweet name by the way).

Back to business at hand...soup.

It is just soup, but look, let's face facts.  If you don't know proportions or what tastes good in soup, or how long to cook it...then it can be a little intimidating.  And I'll be honest, it's not an exact science for me.  It's a little of this and a dab of that and maybe a smidge more of something else...you gotta taste it as you go along.  So be like me and play like the chef's in Top Chef and have little tasting spoons that you can have a bite and then throw in the sink to wash later so that you continually check the flavors.  Or you could be really hard core and just dip your fingers in...gross.  I'll just wash a bunch of spoons, thank you.

I can't even give you an exact recipe, I can just give you the basics for making your own recipe.  Let me start by saying though to start early with soup.  It is best to pre-chop and pre-make certain items before you need supper in an hour, as it's a little time consuming to make soup.

I made Vegetable Beef and Barley Soup.  So at lunch time today I got out the skillet and I put a little oil in the bottom, I finely chopped an onion and an Anaheim pepper.  And I diced a celery into crescent moons, somewhere between 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch thick.  Started sauteing these over medium heat.  Then I added 1.5 lbs ground round 85 % lean, and browned until done, add salt and pepper as you feel is tasty.  Set aside when done.  In fact, do this the night before and just toss it in the fridge.

Start chopping your veg.  Again, you gotta go with what you like.  Carrots, potatoes, green beans, cabbage and zucchini for me.  I grabbed a medium-sized bowl and started chopping, aiming to fill it up.  I chopped approx: 6 carrots into half moons, several hand-fulls of green beans chopped into 2 inch pieces (please chop off the ends...they're kind of scratchy going down), 1 potato into 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch dice, 1/2 of a small head of cabbage chopped into 1 inch square pieces. and 1 zucchini quartered and then chopped approx the size of the carrots.  Set aside.  If you want, do this the night before or after breakfast even.  But give yourself enough time!  I wouldn't chop the zucchini or the potato ahead though.  Nasty brown potatoes are not delicious.

Prepare your barley if you're going to use it as early as you like as well.  If you want to use noodles, then obviously you don't have to prepare these in advance as they will cook in your boiling broth.  Just follow the instructions and set aside.

Now it's broth time.  I got my biggest pot as I knew this was an enormous amount of soup.  I dumped my chopped veg in the soup, minus the zucchini as it's a quick cooker.  I took the bowl the veg was in before and I filled it with water, twice, and dumped it in the pot.  Then I used beef bouillon base and just guessed how much to put in, but several good spoonfuls.  I added several dashes of Worcestershire Sauce and 2 large spoonfuls of tomato paste.  Taste.  Add salt and pepper and a bay leaf.  Turn on heat and bring to boil. 

Boil approximately 15 minutes.  You want the veg to be tender...it is not nice to take a bite of soup and have some under-cooked veg.  Gross.  Give yourself time to get them nice and soft.  Add the meat.   Add the barley.  Decide that maybe it isn't soupy enough and add another cup of water.  Looks good!  Slap on the lid, reduce heat to simmer and let it be.  Taste.  Add more salt, or another dash or two of Worcestershire.  Toss spoon into the sink.  Simmer for an hour or so.  Add the zucchini.  Taste.  Throw spoon into sink.  Slap lid on and let it go on very very low until dinner time.  Yay and yum!  Soup.

My Oldest declared this the BEST soup she has ever eaten.  And as a matter of fact,she actually ate her entire bowl...a zucchini included I do believe.  And the Youngest who is terribly picky, gobbled hers up as well.  I served it with bread that I buttered and then layered Pecorino Romano cheese on and broiled for a couple of minutes until nice and toasty and melted.  Dessert was fresh strawberries with a dollop of whipped cream.  So good.  So try soup.  It's not so hard.  Just use what you like and use common sense regarding the ingredients.  If it looks like there's not enough water, add some.  If it looks too watery, you can take it out!  If you love rutabaga, put it in! 


  1. Sounds yummy Heather! I have found another quick tip if I'm really in a hurry- put tomato in last after veggies cook as the acid in the tomato slows the cooking of potatoes - and especially beans, if you use them :).
    Love your blog!

  2. That is a great tip! Thanks Karen.


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