Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Blustery Days Call for Warm Soup

As I walked down the many steps to the office this morning, I heard the muffled roar of water rushing downhill off to the right and lower downhill. We finally had real rain last night, plus a fair amount of wind, so the path was littered here and there with lichen coated twigs from the trees overhead, plus seed cones from the redwoods. The trunks of the tree right outside the round office window is covered with tiny ferns. Big drops of water were dripping silently off into the duff below.

I was glad to be out of the wind and in a well lit warm place doing a job I enjoy. It's not rocket science to do administrative and clerical stuff for a clinic, but timeliness and attention to detail are important, plus the enjoyment of helping people can make sorting out the details and explaining the program a win-win situation.

This past weekend was gray enough to be rainy, but the most precipitation we had was a drizzle. Since we don't get summer rain, we depend on the winter rains to fill the rivers, lakes, and ground waters. I hope that the roar of water in our local stream that I heard this morning at work is just the beginning of a good wet time.

When the weather is wet and blustery, soup is always a good call. I recently made a barley soup that Sweetie claims is the best soup I've ever made. Not sure if that is true, but it was hearty, filling, savory and delish. It has the usual onion, carrot, celery trio, plus two kinds of mushrooms, garlic, diced tomatoes, beef broth, chunks of beef, and lots of beef stock. I used pearl barley and simmered it for a long time.

We had more the next day and it was even better for having sat in the fridge overnight. The chopping and sauteing takes a bit of time but after that it's mostly on it's own, with an occasional stir with the wooden spoon. I made a big pot so we had three meals from one session at the stove...hard to beat when the season is cold and damp.

Beef Barley Soup with Vegetables

1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, diced
1-2 medium carrots, diced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 lb white mushrooms, sliced
1/4 lb small brown mushrooms like crimini or shitaki
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3-4 cups beef broth
1 lb beef chuck, diced in 1 inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup diced tomatoes in their own juice
2-3 cups water
1 cup uncooked barley
1 package frozen mixed vegetables (optional)

In large soup pot, saute' the onions, celery and carrots in the 2-3 tablespoons olive oil until tender, but not browned, about 4-5 minutes. Add the white and brown mushrooms and the garlic and stir to coat with the cooked vegetables. Cover pot and cook over low heat 10 minutes, stirring a few times. Add the beef broth and stir to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

In a skillet heat the 1 tablespoon oil over medium-hot heat and saute' the beef cubes, turning so that all sides get browned.Season with salt and pepper and stir in the dried thyme. Transfer to the soup pot with the broth and vegetables. Add the diced tomatoes, water, and barley. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover pot and simmer until the barley is fully cooked, about 45 minutes, stirring a few times to keep ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed. If desired,add the mixed vegetables, cover pot and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes until heated through.

Remove from heat and serve hot.

This soup is even better the next day after chilling overnight. Remove any fat that collects on top of the chilled soup. Reheat and enjoy.


  1. this looks like such a satisfying hearty soup. i was craving soup last night but somehow did not make any. i am going to make this tonight. looks great!

  2. We had prawn curry last night and it was not a good choice. Had to have a cold shower afterwards. Temperature today going to be 36°C with no wind. Tonight it's cold meat and salad!
    Will keep this wonderful recipe on hold for a few months, because winter is coming, with lots of cold wind and rain.

  3. Yay for pearls barley. I bought a packet earlier in autumn but haven't gotten around to cook with it. Maybe next weekend.

  4. This does look like a very satisfying soup. It's usually too hot for soup over here but every now and again, especially on cold rainy days, this would be super!

  5. What a bowl of comfort you have made there. I love me some beef barely soup.

    You will have to let me know the dates you are coming to Seattle.