Monday, November 10, 2008

Love Dish: Soup's On

What with all the chopping and simmering, I admit that making a big pot of beef vegetable soup doesn't really constitute a quick dish. However, if like me, you spend the majority of your Sunday evenings cooking a big meal to last through the week, come Monday and Tuesday you'll be able to enjoy this hearty meal 5 minutes after you walk in the door.

What's better, vegetable-based soups are excellent vehicles for using up any surplus veggies you have on hand, particularly all those wonderful root varieties that are in abundance this time of year. Just take into account their respective cooking times - i.e., potatoes take awhile to cook, mushrooms don't - when tossing into the pot.

Beef Vegetable Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb. beef (look for "stew meat"), cut into 1-inch cubes
2 lbs. (about 10) small new potatoes, quartered
1 lb. (about 6) carrots, chopped large
2 sweet onions, chopped large
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 quart beef stock
1-2 cups of water
2 bay leaves
1/2 lb. green beans, ends snipped and cut into 2 inch pieces
6 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned and halved
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil until smoking. Add the beef and brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Add the potatoes, carrots, and onions; sprinkle with black pepper and stir to combine. Add the peeled tomatoes, squeezing between your fingers to break them up. Add the beef stock, bay leaves, and 1-2 cups of water if necessary so that you have a good amount of broth. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally. After about an hour and fifteen minutes, add the green beans. Ten minutes later, add the mushrooms. Let simmer another 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked through but still firm. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with crusty bread for dunking.

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