November is a good month for soup. The weather gets colder and there aren’t many things more satisfying than a hot bowl of stew or chowder to fill you up. My training in scratch soups goes back more than twenty years and I’ve picked up a few tricks on the way. Of course there are infinite varieties and styles, but I would like share how I make beef barley soup as an example.
The first thing a good soup needs is aromatics. Celery, onion, carrot, thyme, parsnip, garlic and leek are examples of vegetables that (when used properly) will enhance the flavor of a soup. My philosophy is to dice the above vegetables small and stir with minimum oil over medium high heat until they are soft and the natural water has been mostly evaporated. After the aromatics have cooked down I like to add steak that has been cooked separately and diced into bites. The flavors combine nicely and when the pot is very hot it is time for acid- in this case a robust red wine such as a strong cabernet. Ideally the wine should reduce as the alcohol cooks off and soaks into the meat and veggies. One common mistake many people make is to add the stock too early, but waiting until the wine reduces will produce a much better product. Real beef bone broth is ideal for the next step, though I have seen people make this soup with beef base and water. The broth goes into the pot and I recommend getting it very hot but not boiling. Typically a film of oils and impurities will rise to the surface of the hot stock where they can be skimmed off. This skimming action should be repeated as needed while the soup simmers. Pearl barley is a wonderful grain for soup because it retains some texture after it is cooked. I add my barley to the pot while it is simmering and stir occasionally until it thickens and the barley is softened. The last stage is to season the soup to a desired level with salt (or bouillon) as well as pepper, red wine vinegar and ground celery seed.
When the wind is blowing and the winter chases you inside… its time for soup. Paired with a nice piece of bread and a salad it will do your body good. As a caterer I am happy to feed you this or any other soup. We can arrange servers, chafers, side dishes, bowls & spoons if you would like an “event” or we can sell you just the soup in cold containers that you can heat up as needed. Recommended options include: Beef Barley, Split Pea & Ham, Chicken Corn Chowder and Vegetarian Chili. Sale price is $36 for four quarts (cold) if you pick it up at our Bellewood Acres location. Hot meals are priced as a package, so feel free to call (360)223-4900 and we will write an event plan for you. Please allow 48 hour notice (some exceptions can be made) and expect real flavor. Crave Catering reserves the right to change menu options based on availability and schedule.