Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Soup's the thing

Consider this posting a guide to the concept of soup making. Off the top of my head I can’t think what cannot go into a soup. In 1966 I went to L. A. to rehearse for my first professional recordings and concert tour. I stayed for several days with a guy named Jay Reilly. His real name was Jay Kapfer and I don’t know how I remember that. After every lunch and dinner Jay put any leftovers into a pot in the fridge. On the weekend he would turn all of that into a soup. I only had one of his concoctions and remember that it was quite good.

Jay's healthy attitude toward nutrition and thrift didn't provide him with a long healthy life. A few years after I knew him, he was murdered in an alley behind a bar.

Another of my finds in the supermarket sale bin was something labeled “beef soup bone.” It’s just over a pound and has quite a bit of meat on it. Beef and barley soup sounded like a good idea yesterday. The weather was cold and quite rainy, although for Denver that is such a rare occurrence that we rejoiced in it.

As is often my wont, I wanted to make up a soup. I started by foraging in the fridge for whatever I could use. There were more than enough odds and ends.

Obviously, you can’t replicate this at home. You can, however, use what you have and have a luscious soup for a cold and rainy day. When I cut the meat up, I was astounded to find that the bone was tiny. It probably weighed 1/10 lb. So we had plenty of beef.

This doesn’t have to be a beef soup. It could just as easily be chicken noodle or ham and bean depending on what ingredients you find. If I had had it, I would have added celery. Since you don’t have the sauce, which is the prime flavoring and seasoning, you should use canned broth – low salt, of course.

The addition of ramen noodles was Peter’s idea. As a result, we should probably have borrowed Rachel Ray’s word and called it a “stoup,” not exactly a stew, not exactly a soup. But I’m not going there.

Beef and barley soup

1 soup bone, just over 1 lb.
3 bay leaves
fresh or dried tarragon
½ onion, left intact
olive oil, for browning
salt and pepper
4 cups water
1 carrot, thinly sliced
“barbeque” sauce, leftover
pearl barley
1 package ramen noodles

Preheat the oven to 275°.

Liberally salt and pepper the beef on all sides and brown in 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a heavy pot. Add the bay, tarragon, onion, and the water and bring to a boil.

Put the pot in the oven for 3 hours, turning the piece of beef every 1 hour.

Remove the beef and allow to cool completely. Shred or dice the meat in 1/2” pieces or so. Sprinkle it with a tsp of salt and a tsp of pepper. Toss to coat. Remove the bay leaves from the liquid and discard.

Add more water if necessary and bring back to a boil. Add the carrot and ¾ cup barley and cook until tender over low heat. It will probably take close to 45 min.

Boil the ramen noodles in 2 cups of water for 2 ½ minutes. Drain, toss with a splash of olive oil and a couple of pinches of the flavor packet.

Stir in the sauce and the meat. Add the ramen noodles. Bring the heat up until everything is hot. Enjoy. Oh, you can garnish this with parsley. We didn’t have any.

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