Tuesday, 18 September 2012

CORN, HERB AND VEGETABLE SOUP, SMOOTH AND CREAMY




Hurry up and get yourself some fresh corn. Make soup with it, grill it, freeze it to have some for fall. Before long, fresh corn will be gone from the market. I've bought lots of it, and one of my favourite ways to cook with it is to make soup. I make this corn soup at the end of every summer, and I love it. You could say it's my farewell to summer dish.  

The soup features sweetcorn in a creamy broth with lots and lots of vegetables. Fresh herbs take it over the top, making it extra delicious. The bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, and parsley came from my herb garden. It's giving us a prodigious crop this year. We have more than enough for ourselves, for a neighbour and for co-workers. A great little garden, proving that even small growing spaces can give big results. 

Fresh corn is high in vitamin C, very high in potassium, and it's responsible for significant antioxidant activity. So hurry up and enjoy some sweetcorn and some corn soup: it's one of the summer's fleeting pleasures.  

This year I bought extra corn and froze the kernels to have for cooking during autumn.

Ingredients:
5 ears of corn
3  cups 2% milk
5 cups low sodium vegetable broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 large zucchini, chopped (don't peel)
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
the leaves from 1(or even 2 if you like the stuff) nice size stick of rosemary
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
3 scallions, chopped, use white and light green parts only

Directions:

Prepare the corn:  Ready, set, go!
  • Remove the husks and the silk strings from the corn.  Break the cobs in half. Stand the flat end of each half on a cutting board. Grab your knife in one hand and with the other hand hold the top of the corn cob firmly in order to steady it. Use the knife to scrape off the kernels, and keep rotating the cob until all the kernels are scraped off.  With the flat end of the knife scrape off any bits of corn remaining on the cob. Alternately, you can use a vegetable peeler to scrape off the bits. Reserve the kernels and do not discards the corn cobs because they'll be put to use!
  • Place the milk in a saucepan. Add the corn cobs. Bring the milk to a boil, lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat,  set the saucepan aside, but let the corn cobs steep in the milk.
  • In a large Dutch oven heat the olive oil.  Add the chopped onion, the red peppers, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes, zucchini, carrot, and corn kernels. Cook, stirring for 10 minutes. 
  • Add the broth, the milk, the corn cobs and all the herbs. 
  • Cook for about 30 to 40 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft.  
  • Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves and corn cobs and discard them.  
  • Using an immersion blender puree the soup. 
  • Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with scallions if desired, and serve

Sunday, 2 September 2012

BEEF AND BARLEY SOUP WITH BEANS


It's been close to 2 months since my last post.  I hadn't given up on this little blog of mine, that wasn't the reason for not posting. It's just that here at home we were in the middle of a renovation project. One that took way too long to complete - actually there are still some odds and ends that need finishing. Consequently, there has been very little cooking going on in our kitchen. Along the way we made due with lots of canned soup, sandwiches, salads, some takeout (Chinese, of course), lots of eating standing up, lots of paper plates. A few times I ate soup straight out of the can. At other times I poured my soup into a paper bowl. Then I'd remember that the microwave was packed away in the garage, and I would have to eat my soup cold. Appetizing?  You bet!  Sampled a few cans of beef and barley. I asked myself:  can I create a beef and barley version that's better than what I am eating out of this can? The answer was quick to come: You bet!  So I waited. For the new floor. For the new counter. For the dust to go away. For the spackling paste to dry. Then I went shopping:  brisket, barley, vegetables. And then, I COOKED! For the first time in two months. Yes, I still remembered how to slice onions. I even remembered which box my chopping knife was packed in. I took it out and got started. I made a huge pot of beef and barley soup. Never mind that it was 85 degrees outside. here never was a more satisfying and enjoyable soup. Savoury, steamy broth, beef so perfectly cooked it melted in one's mouth, and beans and barley, warm and filling.  This is the kind of soup you ladle into your best china if you can remember which box it's packed in. 

Ingredients:
Use these first 10 ingredients to make a nice broth:

3 pounds beef brisket, cut into 1-inch cubes

about 3 tablespoons olive oil
beef bones for soup
1 onion cut into large pieces
3 bay leaves
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 cloves of garlic cut in half
salt and pepper
10-12 cups of liquid



 Now use the following ingredients to finish the soup:

2 (8-ounce) cans of tomato sauce

3 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small onion chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1¼ cups pearl barley, rinsed
2 cups soaked cranberry beans
3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper

Directions:


Making this beef and barley soup is a little time consuming, but the end result is truly worth it! Unless you are feeding a large crowd, there will be leftovers- but don't worry. The soup will taste just as good if not better the next day. I made a large batch on purpose just so we could have the leftovers.
  • Rinse the cranberry beans and soak them overnight.  About  1¼ cups should yield 2 cups of soaked beans.
  • In a large heavy Dutch oven heat the olive oil and sauté the beef two or three batches, removing each batch to a plate as it finishes sautéing.  
  • When all the beef is done place it back into the Dutch oven and add the liquid, the bones, the onion, celery, carrots, bay leaves, garlic and salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil and then lower the heat. Cover and cook on low for about 1½ hours. Let cool and carefully remove the meat from the broth. Strain the broth and discard the cooked vegetables and bones.
  • Pour the strained broth back into the Dutch oven and add the tomato sauce.  
  • Add the meat, the barley, the beans, the fresh onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer on low for an hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the thyme, parsley and salt and pepper to taste and then simmer for about another half hour.

That should do it.  Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.  The long cooking time will make the meat very soft.