It's only appropriate that it's snowing today. It makes me appreciate today's task all the more.
Although it's not so much fun for my Lucky Garden Gnome or....
...Handsome Jake. The soup I chose to make would happily satisfy both the garden gnome and the dog, a hearty Beef Barley soup with chunky vegetables from Cook's Illustrated Best Recipes. The soup itself is very straightforward but I highly urge you to make your own beef stock. Some cooks enjoy the work intensive process of making bread. That's the way I feel about making stocks and soups. I love steaming up the kitchen with deep meaty smells as I brown six pounds of beef shanks and oxtails needed to get that rich beef flavor. The bonus is that you'll have your meat to add to your soup. I don't mind the straining or de-fatting the results. It's that flavor I'm chasing. No store bought broth can touch it.
Beef Barley Soup with Mushrooms
2 T vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped medium
2 medium carrots, chopped medium
12 oz mushrooms
1/2 t dried thyme
1/2 c drained canned diced tomatoes
2 quarts rich beef stock plus 2 cups meat shredded into bite sized pieces
1/2 c pearl barley
1/4 c minced fresh parsley
salt and ground black pepper
Heat half the oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion and carrots and sauté until softened.Add remaining oil and mushrooms. Sauté until mushroom soften and the liquid they throw off evaporates, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the thyme, tomatoes, stock, meat, and the barley. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the vegetables and barley are tender, about 45 minutes. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot and steamy. With a loaf of hearty bread and some sharp cheddar cheese, let it snow all night. You have your hot bowl to keep you warm and happy.