The polar vortex got started early this year, winter weather and low temperatures over the nation and there’s a freeze warning for our area tonight. Time for soup!
Tonight’s soup is beef, I have some pantry staples that pretty much go in all soups. These are canned beans of a variety of kinds, Ro-tel tomatoes which are diced tomatoes and chili peppers with a choice of a variety of heat levels, canned corn which seems to keep its crispness better than frozen, and some kind of grain, usually rice but this time with barley to go with the beef. Frozen Lima beans and sweet peas and fresh carrots and new potatoes to finish it out.
Start out by going through about a pound of stew meat and making sure most of the fat is trimmed off and it’s all cut into spoon-sized pieces. Brown it in a large stock pot with a little olive oil. Add about 4 cups of water.
Chop your potatoes and carrots into spoon-size pieces. If your potatoes are a bit tired and soft from being in the veggie drawer too long, you can let them sit in cold water a few minutes to crisp up. Just for fun, I used multicolored heirloom carrots in purple, white and yellow along with the usual orange. I use between a cup and a cup and half of each of these. I also used about half a cup of dried shiitake mushrooms chopped small.
Then, time to get the can opener busy. To reduce sodium, I drain and rinse the beans and drain the corn. This time, I used a can of beef broth for extra flavor. Trader Joe’s has some little broth concentrate packets that add a nice bit of flavor but I only have chicken flavor in those.
Then for seasonings, I use a generous handful of dried onion flakes, a teaspoon or so garlic powder and this time some Weber roasted garlic and herb seasoning, and a couple of bay leaves and a few grinds of a sea salt grinder.
Stir, taste, and adjust the salt to your liking.
Add a cup or so of frozen Lima beans and half a cup of rinsed barley, cover and simmer. Stir occasionally, taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Cook until meat is tender and veggies cooked. Add a cup or so of frozen sweet peas, stir, and serve. Adding the peas now cools the soup a bit to eating temperature and keeps the peas from getting overcooked to mush.
Serve with your favorite crackers, garlic toast or cornbread.