Late November: time to pull out the heavy blankets and snuggle up at night, shivering as you hit the cold sheets and wait to warm up. When you do find yourself enveloped in big fluffy blankets and warmth, that is just the essence of why I love Fall and Winter. I love that feeling of being bundled up in the chilly air.
That feeling of enveloping warmth is what a cup of hearty soup feels like.
Much as I love the cold weather, I love being in cold weather with a warm jacket, or sipping some hot soup and feeling my belly fill up while watching the leaves fall outside. Yes, you can have it both ways.
Here is a soup to match the weather: beef mushroom barley soup. I’m enjoying it tonight while the temps plunge below freezing (a big deal here in Berkeley) and I hope it helps me fight my sniffles. As you see here, I’ve piled my soup high with the barley and beef and mushrooms and skimped on the broth (though it’s a lot soupier in reality). I based it on the recipe at epicurious, adding my favorite garlic, upping the barley and such–in the end, I adjusted this recipe according to my own tastes. I welcome you to adjust it further!
Recipe follows after the jump
BEEF MUSHROOM BARLEY SOUP
1 1/2 oz dried mushrooms (I used dried oyster and shitake mushrooms)
3 cups boiling-hot water plus 8 cups cold water
1 lb cross-cut beef short ribs or flanken (you can also use bone marrow or chuck steak)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 cloves garlic
1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)
2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 lb fresh cremini mushrooms (or white button), quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup pearl barley
tsp thyme or sage
splash of sherry or port or red wine
Soak dried mushrooms in boiling-hot water in a bowl until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain and reserve soaking liquid. Rinse mushrooms, pat dry, and finely chop.
Bring soaked mushrooms, soaking liquid, ribs, salt, pepper, and remaining 8 cups water to a boil in a 6- to 8-quart pot, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, skimming foam, until meat is just tender, about 1 hour. Transfer ribs with a slotted spoon to a cutting board to cool, reserving broth.
While meat simmers, cook garlic, onion, carrots, celery, and creminis in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in barley and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Deglaze pan with a splash of sherry or port or red wine.
Discard bones, fat, and gristle from meat, then cut meat into 1/2-inch pieces and add to broth along with barley mixture. Add thyme. Simmer, uncovered, until barley is tender, about 40 minutes. Salt to taste.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.