Asking me to pick my favorite celebrity chef or cook would be pretty impossible, I like so many for different reasons. Firmly placed in my "Top 10" list though would be Ina Garten for her stellar cookbooks and recipes. Although we sometimes have our difference in the amount of salt, oil, butter, etc. that truly needs to be in a recipe, (I just worry about her and Jeffrey sometimes!) ;-) we work very well together and her recipes almost always turn out to be my favorites--even the ones with my healthier changes. So of course despite my futile vows to stop buying cookbooks, I had to get a copy of her newest, "Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?: Fabulous Recipes & Easy Tips" to round put my Ina collection. I haven't spent much time with the book yet but I did manage to get a few sticky tabs in there for things I want to make, and since I was craving some nourishing soup, the Rich Beef Barley Soup was my first pick. Made with oxtails for extra flavor, and loaded with chunks of veggies and chewy barley, it was the perfect comfort food to nosh on during a long, busy week.
Ina says,"When I've made beef barley soup in the past, it never had enough flavor. This soup is made with inexpensive oxtails--which makes it rich and flavorful--plus lots of vegetables like carrots, onions, celery, and fresh thyme. A big pot of this soup on a cold winter night is such a satisfying first course or light supper."
Rich Beef Barley Soup
From "Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?"
1 Tbsp good olive oil
2 lbs beef oxtails
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
2 cups (1/2-inch) diced carrots (4 carrots)
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup (1/2-inch) diced celery (2 stalks)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
3 bay leaves
10 cups canned beef stock (Ina says she uses College Inn brand beef broth)
1 cup pearled barley
heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Add the oxtails, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until browned all over. Remove the oxtails with a slotted spoon and reserve.
Add the leeks, carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the fat in the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the vegetables start to brown. Tie the thyme sprigs together with kitchen string and add to the pot along with the bay leaves. Return the oxtails to the pot and add the broth, 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Discard the thyme bundle and the bay leaves, and skim off the fat.
Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add the barley. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, drain, and set aside.
When the soup is ready, add the barley and cook the soup for another 15-20 minutes, until the barley is tender. Depending on the saltiness of the stock, the soup might need another teaspoon of salt and some pepper. serve hot, with or without the oxtails.
Notes/Results: Excellent soup--so thick, meaty and full of beef flavor, this one was a winner. I stuck pretty close to the recipe except that I missed the leeks on my grocery list ;-( so I just added a little extra of the other veggies to make up for it. I am sure they would have been great in it but it wasn't worth another store run. Also, in probably what is a first for me for an Ina recipe, I added some more calories and fat to the soup by adding a small packet of stew meat, chopped up to the soup. I browned it after I browned the oxtails and added it in when I added them back to the veggies. I wanted to use the meat up and I wanted a little extra beef. The soup would be fine without but I loved the extra pieces in there. The trick with this one is to really let the soup cool down and get all the extra fat from the oxtails off before adding in the cooked barley so it isn't oily. Definitely a keeper recipe when a hearty, soul warming soup is needed, and one that makes the kitchen smells heavenly when it is simmering on the stove.
Now lets see what delicious things are waiting in the Souper Sunday Kitchen.
Debbie from The Friday Friends kicks things off this week with her Black Bean Tortilla Soup. Debbie says, "This tortilla soup was not like my last one...this one was actually pretty healthy. No cream, no cheese, no sour cream. I was prepared not to like it. Not to like it at all....until, the Handyman said, "this is really good", so I tasted it and guess what? I liked it too! It had a great taste. A great broth and some fresh chilies and lime. We both had seconds. One disappointment for me, from the last tortilla soup I made, was that in this one it it just had us crush tortilla chips on the top. Store bought tortilla chips! I like the fried ones from fresh corn tortillas I used last time"
So lovely to have Lee Ann from Mangos, Chili and Z back with us and here with a classic Chicken Noodle Soup. She says, "Is there anything better than a steaming bowl of chicken and noodle soup on a cold evening? Simple, delicious and rumored to heal the ailing, this soup is comfort food at its best. It’s not rocket science to throw a pot together. No matter what you put in it, it’s going to be good, but I wanted to share with you my version that has evolved over the years. Seasoned just to our liking and with the addition of some sweet potato and fennel seed, it makes this one of our favorites."
My good friend Kat from Our Adventures in Japan has been enjoying her new immersion blender and made the most of it with two soups this week. She says, "Sometimes when we eat out they serve Gobo (Burdock) Potage. Creamy and earthy. Since I had gobo and Satsumaimo (Sweet Potato) in my refridge, I thought it would be nice to try two different soups instead of just one. I found a recipe online and split the liquid part of the soup between the two ingredients. If you do try the gobo soup, I would definitely recommend straining it, it was really gritty. Though I guess you know you are getting all the fiber from it. The Sweet Potato Soupwas on the sweet side but had a smoother texture than the gobo one.Aside from the grittiness, these two soups were really nice and perfect for the nip in the air."
Janet from The Taste Spacemade a Brazilian Potato-Kale Soup with Sizzling Chorizo (Caldo Verdo)and says about it, "...it is a healthy, hearty soup adapted from Viva Vegan. Caldo verdo literally translates to green soup and kale is a center star in this soup. The potato mashes down into a creamy base and there is a subtlety of flavour from the thyme and oregano. This soup is Portuguese in nature, and Portugese cuisine is very prominent in Brazil as well. It would be a nice, simple soup without the chorizo, but it is downright tasty with the chorizo. And yes, this soup is still vegan! I used homemade chorizo sausages for a definite flavour boost."
Tigerfish from Teczcape - An Escape to Food has a South Indian Sambar (Vegetable Soup) to share and says, "I developed a liking for this hearty vegetable soup ...quite recently. Why not earlier? Cos' I never had it in the past. To me, this is like Minestrone, Indian-style.I learn this homemade version from my friend who learn it from her mother-in-law who is Indian. Anything delicious needs passing down right? And gawd, I did not even know there are peeled-split-mung-beans in this soup. I always thought they were chickpeas(garbanzo) disintegrated/broken down to powdery texture when cooked in soup, which I believe will work for Sambar too, just like how yellow lentils may work."
Christine from Kits Chow is here with a household-pleasing Scotch Broth. Christine says, "Scotch broth is a delicious, hearty soup that is a meal in itself. It is usually made with bits of things thrown into the pot. For my soup, I had a bit of leftover roast leg of lamb and pan drippings to throw into the pot. Barley is traditionally used but my barley was over two years old so I used Farro instead of my rancid barley.... Dish up. Garnish with chopped parsley. Enjoy this delicious soup! Everyone loved it, especially my cats."
From Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice, Reeni made the Italian classic Pasta Fazool (Fagioli). She says, "Pasta fazool or pasta e fagioli is Italian for pasta and beans. It is traditionally a meatless peasant dish. The pasta fazool I grew up with was a pile of spaghetti with beans over top! It was definitely not soup. Like the version that is widely available in all kind of restaurants nowadays. And it was always called fazool, not fagioli (fajoelee). It's a cinch to throw together, cheap to make and can easily be made vegetarian/meatless by leaving out the bacon and using vegetable broth. It's wonderfully comforting and was the bright spot on a long, dark, chilly night."
Zibi, from Fresh Slowcooking wanted everyone to have this recipe for Mother Regina's Chicken Soup in case they are feeling under the weather. She says, "You know those colds that make you sniffly and tired -- when you're not sick enough to stay home from work, but your thinking is foggy? That's he kind of cold I've had for the last two weeks -- Time for some chicken soup! This one is a light chicken, carrot and parsnip flavoured broth that reminded me of the egg drop soup my grand mother used to make at Easter. I ate three bowls of this soup over the course one evening. After sleeping like a baby (no coughing all night!!), I woke up feeling refreshed. We loved this soup so much we ate it all. Now I'm making another batch so that I can freeze some for the next time we need some TLC."
Megha from Live to eat!!! has a Cinnamon Spiced Chickpea and Sweet Potato Salad to share and says,"Indian salads are very limited and I guess we tend to concentrate more on the mains.Chopping of some cucumbers and onions is the last minute thingy, just to include some greens in the diet. I've always enjoyed making salads and that's why I try to mix and match different flavours and these healthy experiments are worth a try to include in your daily diet. My favourite combination of tahini and cinnamon makes it a combo again. Although wasabi seems to be lost in the mingle and you feel that you did taste it. Overall a successful experiment."
Joanne from Eats Well With Others has a creamy, vegan Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew Dressing to feed her number one addiction...nut butters. Joanne says, "There's something about the high fat content that sends dopamine coursing through my veins, activating every reward circuit in my body. Such that after one spoonful, I feel high as a kite. Euphoric. Psychedelic. Satiated. Incandescent. And so I keep going back. Jar after jar. Bowl after bowl of this Asian noodle salad with cashew dressing. What can I say? A girl's gotta get a hit somehow. And it doesn't hurt that this pasta, which is rife with ginger and garlic and all things good in this world. It will have you begging for more."
Some warming, delicious soups and a couple of hearty salads too this week. Mahalo to everyone who joined in! If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo of the side bar for all of the details.
Many thanks to those of you who took the time and effort to vote for my Kabocha Cupcakes with Maple-Vanilla Bean Frosting at the Marx Foods Recipe Impossible Joanne Eats Well With Others Squash Edition contest. I really do appreciate it and thanks to you, I moved up from last place. ;-) If you still want to vote, for mine (preferably, I won't lie) ;-) or one of the other fabulous creations, the poll is open here until tonight.