Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another Hearty Soup

And thus continues my experiments with using V8 as a base for soup. This time just a cup gives a rich twist to a classic beef barley soup, just in time for a nasty head cold. I've been trying so many home remedies, but nothing works like homemade soup and a steaming mug of ginger tea with honey and lemon.

Again, I used vegetables I had on hand in the crisper, but this would be equally as good with peas, corn, green beans, or zucchini in any combination instead of, or along with, kale and broccoli.

Tomatoey Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

America's Test Kitchen asserts that whole sirloin tip steaks make the best beef for soup, or alternately blade or flank steak. I used very affordable chuck stew beef and it turned out terrifically. This makes a large pot of soup, enough for about 8 large servings. It could be easily halved.

1lb beef, trimmed of fat and gristle and chopped into half-inch pieces
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery heart, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, pressed
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 cup V8
1 can diced tomatoes, with liquid 

3 packed cups kale, prepared*
2 cups small broccoli florets
4 1/2 cups beef broth
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 cup barley

Marinate beef in soy sauce for 15 minutes. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute onion, carrots, and celery for 5 minutes or until onion starts to turn translucent. Remove vegetables to a bowl. Add beef, with marinade, to pot and brown, stirring often, for 6 minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add red wine vinegar plus 1 Tbs of the V8 and cook for another minute or two, stirring constantly. Combine all ingredients in pot and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a strong simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes or until barley is soft and vegetables are tender. 

As with most soups, this is great leftover after all the flavors have had time to meld. The barley will continue to soak up moisture overnight and get puffier, which makes it even better. Keep extra beef broth on hand to add to leftovers to replace lost liquid. 

*To prep a head of kale, remove and discard the toughest stems and ribs and coarsely chop remaining leaves into bite-sized pieces.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Harvest Tomato Soup

I have been CRAVING autumn vegetable soups like CRAZY, but San Francisco's Indian Summer weather has just not been cooperating. Temps in the 80s put a damper on hovering over the stove or crock-pot or roasting vegetables in the oven. We'll occasionally get a break in the heat, just enough to get my hopes up and start planning a grocery list, but every time it turns out it's just teasing me. Well, yesterday did not get nearly as hot as forecasted, and it even cooled off after the sun went down, so I decided to wait no longer and pounced, making a quick, simple vegetable soup to take advantage of this window of opportunity, however brief. I dare to hope that Fall is really here, because now my head is swimming with all the soups I want to make and I don't want to stop now I've started.

I took the inspiration for this soup from the nerdiest of places, which makes me even happier about it. Wil Wheaton of Star Trek and Internet fame recently posted the recipe for a soup he made to combat a nasty case of sinusitis. It fit all the qualifications I desired for last night's meal: quick, full of whatever vegetables looked good in the market and that I had in the crisper, and with something different from my usual recipes to inspire me. The difference that caught my eye: he used tomato juice as the base. Of course I tweaked the recipe and made it my own, and I encourage you to do the same. This soup can be extremely versatile. I already have big plans for other ways I can use V8 (which I used instead of tomato juice for added flavor and nutrition) to pump up other soups.

The husband man said it was probably the healthiest thing he's eaten in 5 years, yet he still enjoyed it. Of course, he said it would be better with barley (his response to any barley-less soup) and pork (his response to any porkless dish of any sort). I do think some ham, pancetta, or bacon would be great in this, but I was in the mood for a veggie-only soup. I also have an idea brewing for a slightly less tomatoey beef barley version I'm sure will please him. Big plans, my friends, big plans.

Harvest Tomato Soup

Wil's version was completely vegan. Omit broth and replace with water or vegetable broth to take it back to vegan status. Serves 4 as an entree, 6 as a starter.

1 Tbsp oil
1 med onion, chopped
4 stalks celery hearts, chopped
3 carrots, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, pressed
2 cups small broccoli florets
2 cobs corn, kernels removed
3 packed cups prepared* kale
1 can tomatoes, with liquid
1 can kidney beans, with liquid
3 cups V8
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried thyme

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute onions, celery, and carrots for 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. 

Bring to a boil. Reduce to a strong simmer and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.