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Friday, February 3, 2012

Mushroom Beef Barley Soup

Shortly before Serving
For New Year's Eve some of my culinarily-inclined friends and I got together and decided to do something ambitious: 7 courses of dinner, 12 bottles of wine, and (ideally) 10 or so people. Well, the 10 people didn't show up (we ended up with 7) and only 2 people made it to the main course. I myself passed out after the champagne toasts and chicken course (which was only the 3rd course.)

Jenny, the mushroomian
We opened with an amuse-bouche of lentils with a bacon vinaigrette, and our poultry course was roast cornish game hens... these were followed by a salad (which we called "Graecia Capta"—"Captured Greece" in Latin—a hybrid of a caesar and a greek salad,) the main course of a roasted pork loin, chocolates, and fruit and cheese. As far as I know nobody made it to the chocolates before heading home or turning in for the night.

The soup for the night, falling between amuse-bouche and poultry, was a Beef Mushroom Barley soup, which I carefully crafted a couple days before. When I was cooking it, I had in mind my very dear friend Jenny, who likes beef, mushrooms, and heat—thus the addition of a dried hot pepper to the fortification of the soup's broth. She thoroughly approved of the soup (as did the assembled masses.) Therefore, I present to you, a recipe.

Seared Short Ribs
Beef Mushroom Barley Soup
4 strips of cross-cut (flanken cut) short ribs
14 oz (392 g, about 1 large) onion, chopped
6 - 7 oz (170-200 g) each, chopped
 - carrot
 - celery
 - parsnip
3 cloves garlic
10 stems parsley
1 hot pepper, dried
Shiitake Caps and Button Mushrooms
1 quart (946 ml) veal stock
2 quarts (1892 ml, 1/2 gallon) beef stock
2 bay leaves
2 tsp (10 ml) black peppercorns

3.5 oz (1 package, 100 g) shiitake mushrooms, stems cut off and reserved, caps sliced 1 cm wide
3.5 oz (100 g) oyster mushrooms, separated and chopped
12 oz (341 g) button mushrooms, sliced
1 pack (1/2 oz, 14 g) porcini mushrooms
Oyster Mushrooms

2 parsnips, small dice
8 oz (227 g) carrot, small dice
1/2 of a celery heart, small dice
1 lb (454 g) onion, small dice
1 cup (237 ml) pearl barley, rinsed, picked over, and soaked in 3 cups water

Porcini being Reconstituted
1. Heat 2 cups of veal stock just shy of a boil, and pour over the dried porcini mushrooms. Allow to steep for about 30 minutes, then remove the mushrooms and strain the stock in case any dust, rocks, or mushroom bits have remained.

2. In a large soup pot, heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil. Salt the short ribs, and sear them in the hot oil on all sides. Remove from pot as you complete and set on a plate. Sear all ribs in this manner.

Sweating Vegetables
3. Add rough chopped onions, and sweat for a few minutes, until they soften. Add the rough chopped carrots, celery, and parsnip, and sweat until all vegetables are beginning to soften slightly. Add smashed garlic, parsley, any clean mushroom stems you have trimmed off, and the hot pepper. Stir and allow to sweat an additional 1-2 minutes.

4. Add all of the stock, beef and veal both, along with the veal stock used to reconstitute the porcini. Return the short ribs to the pot, add the bay leaves and peppercorns, and bring the whole to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and allow to cook for 4 hours.

Simmering all the Ingredients
5. Sometime during those 4 hours, the beef short ribs will begin to loosen their grip on their bones. Remove the meat, return the bones to the pot, and keep cooking. When the meat is cool enough to touch, trim off the rubbery collagen-rich membrane that surrounded the bones, and return it to the soup. All usable meat should be reserved and cut into bite-size pieces, and set aside for later.

6. After at least 4 hours of simmering, strain the soup and reserve the broth. Test the seasonings of the broth now, and add salt and pepper to your taste.

7. Sauté the button, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms in a scant amount of butter or oil, until they begin to soften and release some liquid. Add these to the soup, along with any liquid from the pan. Sauté the vegetables and add those to the pot, deglazing the sauté pan if necessary with some of the broth. Add the chopped beef, bring the whole to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer 30 minutes.

8. Boil the pearl barley until just done (think al dente pasta) and strain it (just like the rice method.) Shortly before service, add the barley to the soup, and cook 5-10 more minutes. Test the soup for seasoning again, and serve.

This is a very, very hearty soup, and will yield a gallon or more when complete. You may want to back off the amounts of garnish vegetables and mushrooms, or increase the amount of stock, if you prefer a brothier soup.

1 comment:

  1. Soup looks great, Aaron! Something I'll have to try while the weather is still so cold.


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