Cold and overcast here and I am working from home, so I am making some vegetable beef soup. So far, I’ve got the beef stock cooking, and plan on adding celery, carrots, tomatoes, leeks, potatoes, green beans, and peas.
Any ideas for something unexpected or different beyond a traditional vegetable soup?
Barley is always a nice addition. It should go in at least a half-hour before you want to serve the soup, and can go in even earlier if you want to make sure it’s done. It thickens the soup without that icky flour-base consistency.
That said, mushroom-barley soup is wonderful, but quite different from what you’re planning.
sarah in brooklyn
throw in some grain, barley or oats. chewy and yummy!
res ipsa loquitur
Do you have any barley? You could throw a handful in toward the end.
mushrooms! and a splash or red wine
Unless you’re a vegetarian, some really cheap beef should go in there, and skim off the fats and oils.
The next day, you can add some flour and corn starch to the soup to thicken it, add it to an unsweetened pie crust (top and bottom), homemade is the best and doesn’t take long, and now you have beef pot pie.
I suppose you could do all that without the beef too.
Damn. I was too slow for the barley, I see. OK. How about mushrooms–no, too late for that, too.
That about does it for my cooking repertoire, Cole. How you feeling? Have you been getting more sleep? I hope so.
canned corn ?
If you add canned beans as in kidney or white beans and tiny macaroni (ditali or acine de pepe) cooked separately, then you can have a minestrone without the tomato base.
– To make it minestrone like, take a can of cannelini beans, drain and mash half, reserving the unmashed beans. Add the puree mash to the liquid broth before you add the veggies. Add the unmashed beans as you add the other veggies. Also, if you have some parmesan in a brick versus already grated, cut off about 4-5 inches of the rind, chop and place in the soup when you add the veggies. Voila! Almost minestrone!
Also, be sure to salt your soup adequately. One of the worst flavor killers in inadequate amount of salt.
Don’t forget the cornbread!
Bad Horse's Filly
I second (3rd, 4th) the barley and wine. Bay leaf & garlic, too.
Bad Horse's Filly
Buttermilk biscuits as the side (I have a good recipe if needed).
Hmm. If it were me, I’d dump the tomatoes and potatoes and add:
Juice of one lime
Splash of rice vinegar
LOTS of chili
Once your noodles have cooked, garnish with cilantro, raw red onion, and a few slices of red bell pepper.
If you were working with chicken, I’d say to add some Thai green curry paste and coconut milk as well. For some reason that doesn’t work so well with beef, at least not for me.
I’d give you some of my precious New Mexican green chiles if I could, ‘cuz that’s the answer to everything that needs a little sump’n sump’n.
smoked paprika, liquid smoke, leftover BBQ veggies – anything to add that smoky, BBQ flavor.
i always BBQ extra veggies to use for a vegetable soup later in the week.
Damn R-Jud – that sounds too good. looks like i got a great dinner recipe.
I always add a large can of stewed tomatoes , barley and half a head of chopped abbage (or more). The Hanover brand frozen “vegetables for soup” add a nice variety of veggies (okra!) and require no labor.
Add juice of half a lemon and a couple of splashes of hot sauce near the end of the cooking.
No late season soup should be made without kale. Preferably lacinato.
That is all.
If you have a can of coconut milk, a little lime, something for heat, would be a nice thai twist.
Did you know that the global elite are storing non-hybrid seeds in secret storage vaults near the arctic circle?* Get ye some non-hybrid seeds and throw them in.
(*Actual first line of an ad on Glenn Beck’s radio show.)
The most important thing is to have fresh or homemade bread to go with the soup….and maybe a nice cheese spread or a piece of brie…
Some wasabi perhaps?
Pumpkin can be a nice addition, and it adds just a touch of sweetness to it.
Parsnip! Especially when browned, Turnips are nice, too.
Add some frozen okra. It will help thicken the base, and when it’s cooked in a soup, there’s no slime. Plus, okra is delicious. (There’s also no slime when it’s been fried, but the old prejudices of some die hard.)
Add a slug of a nice dry drinking sherry right before serving.
In the soup, I mean.
A little bit of wine, some mushrooms, perhaps some cannellini beans…all good with a basic veggie soup base. I’d also add some pastini or small shell pasta and some little meatballs. And maybe even some baby spinach leaves.
Barley is wonderful, but keep in mind that it expands a lot more than rice or similar grains, so if you put in too much raw barley, you get barley sludge instead of soup. I cook barley from scratch with 1 part barley to 3 parts liquid, versus rice with 1 part rice to 2 parts liquid.
It also needs about 40 minutes to cook through. So add raw barley early (which will throw off enough starch to thicken the soup) or add cooked barley late.
@Vince: Yep, it’s damn good. We do something along those lines once a week, usually with the leftover roast.
Cole, you could also go Italian with your suggested list of veggies: add some small-type pasta, a good spoonful or two of pesto, lemon juice, and a few spoonfuls of grated parmesan. Just before serving add some torn fresh basil. Eat with toasted crusty bread with ricotta spread on top.
If you can be bothered, roast some garlic, then mash it into the ricotta for a really nice spread.
You need an onion. The leeks won’t give enough flavor. A can of corn would be nice.
Just Some Fuckhead
Hey, I’m working from home today too.
Cassey beat me to my suggestion – turnips. But here’s a neat alternative. When I lived in Hawaii years ago, I was making my veg soup and turnips were not to be had. I asked a local lady at the grocery store and she suggested daikon. I never would have thought of cooking daikon, but it was quite good. Spicy like turnip, but different.
Just Some Fuckhead
Throw a few handfuls of corn chips in.
1/2 cup of red wine, cider vinegar splash and 2 tablespoons of braggs amino acids.
If you’re lucky enough to have a store that carries it nearby, pop on over and pick up some Vegemite and pop a tablespoon or more in the soup. Lovely salty, tangy flavor adder for soups.
shallots. they make nearly everything better.
If you were a south-westerner, I wouldn’t have to mention:
hottish peppers–spicy paprika, cayenne, or red NM chile powder. Just to add that hint of piquancy…
or chop a couple (or only one, depending on volume of stew and tenderness of taste) of small jalapeno, extract most of the seeds, and throw ’em in kinda early…
Some edamame might be good. Also I recently got a stove top pressure cooker (Fagor) and I must say it is the best thing I have purchased for the kitchen in over a decade. It is fantastic for soups stews and grains. Not only does it speed up the cooking time, I think it improves the textures of the dish. The risotto you can whip up is amazing and it only takes 20 minutes.
And garlic, don’t forget the garlic! at least 3 nice fat cloves, chopped. And a little boulé of crusty homemade bread with tasty english cheese.
They don’t half just melt away, do they? I don’t have a lot of freezer capacity, so I split a 35-lb bag w/a friend…It’ll all be gone by New Years…
Oboyoboy! Posole season!
This reminds me November is time to make Borscht.
Just Some Fuckhead
All of these divergent ingredients is why the stone soup fable couldn’t have happened.
Yes. A picture of Lily and Tunch.
There’s a medieval spice combination called poudre forte. It’s pretty much an equal mix of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper and long pepper (like black pepper but much stronger). It adds the most incredible depth and autumny overtones to beef stew.
We should do a Balloon Juice cookbook. So many good ideas here.
@Gen: If the stew I’m making for our Bonfire Night party wasn’t already 4/5ths finished, I would throw that together in a heartbeat. Sounds fabulous, I’ll try it the next time we do a venison stew.
Definitely a tsp of Marmite or Vegemite, for a little extra tangy umami.
I’d soften some onions and throw them in as well – leeks are a little mild when standing up to beef.
sliced water chestnuts – they stay crunchy
Add some cooked barley.
You should add meat.
Oo, I almost forgot – Marrow bones – blanch first in boiling water for 5 minutes, then add to soup.
Before serving, punch marrow out of bones and stir into soup. Delicious, and rich in CLA fats (reduces LDL cholesterol).
John! Your renowned root veggie cred is suffering! I usually put cubed turnips in my veggie soup instead of potatoes to keep the cals down. In addition to the other veggies you mention, I use a lot of julienned cabbage. I wouldn’t use both of those with leeks, though, because of the strong flavors of all three.
Cubed sweet potatoes make a change from white potatoes. A little corn is nice.
I often throw in some beans (kidney, pink or cannellini) for protein since I don’t eat meat. You can mush some of the beans to thicken the soup base and leave others whole.
I apologize; I did not see that other members of the turnip promotion crowd had preceded me. Carry on.
everyone has suggested mushrooms, i recommend portobello’s.
Forget turnips. Rutabagas are better.
And it’s too late to do this now, but something to keep in mind in future: We grow super, super hot peppers in summer, and there’s always way too many because only one is enough to flavor a whole pot of chili or soup. So we chop them up and simmer them in broth until they practically disappear, and then freeze the broth in cubes.
Viola! One cube = instant heat for soup! And these peppers produce a full-mouth, soft-palate heat, not just the sharp pins-in-the-tongue heat that jalapenos can produce.
quarter them, put them in early with the potatoes. let them cook down. it reduces the strong flavor.
as strange as it sounds, it completely transforms a veggie soup, and you don’t even realize you are eating brussel sprouts. and don’t even get me started on how good they are for you.
now, about the beef going into the pot of fresh veggies……..
Whatever you put in it, when you sit down to eat it, drink a small toast to the unlikeliest of heroes.
Barbara Boxer. Yup, I said Barbara Boxer.
She is the chair of the Senate Environment Committee. The Republicans boycotted a committee meeting to put the finishing touches on climate change legislation. So she reported the bill out of committee with only Democratic votes.
Nice to see a Democrat show some spine.
Note to other Democrats: bipartisanship only works when there are two sides that are committed to it. The Republicans aren’t, so fuck ’em every chance you get.
I’m sure it’s just coincidence that this happens in close proximity to Fiorina’s announcement.
Guinness is a good addition. Or a side.
@Fergus Wooster: No, no, no, don’t blanch the bones! Roast them!
I would think about using the slow cooker (crock pot). Makes it easy to set up and forget for 10 hours or so. A good blog for slow cooking most anything: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/ (A year of slow cooking).
Might try chopped up brussels sprouts, a can of lentil or cuban black bean soup (spicy).
Spicy sausage (maybe chicken) gets pretty tender in the slow cooker.
Lots of good ideas above.
Comrade Sock Puppet of the Great Satan
Isn’t that that Norwegian plan to preserve a record of genetic diversity? Dear God, even species preservation becomes fodder for the Black Helicopter crowd.
Anyway, I throw in a tin of tomatoes for thickening. Barley is a good idea, and arrowroot if necessary for last-minute viscosity adjustment. Root vegetables are always a good idea – spuds, parsnips, turnips (although parsnips are better roasted than in a stew). Winter squash – acorn, butternut, pumpkin, are also a good idea – bake or parboil them first to make getting the rind off easier, and then cube them into the stew.
If you’re not doing a vegetarian stew, then you should get meat on the bone. Ham hocks are great for stews or soups. I like to pressure cook my stews, as it gets the meat tenderer. Yum.
Spices, herbs – go nuts. Talking of nuts, I have thrown walnuts or cashews into stews, and they work well.
Dried fruit – e.g. apricots, raisins, dates – add sweetness and go great with lamb, chickpeas and warm spices like cinnamon, cardamon, ginger and nutmeg for a nice Morrocan style stew. I make a great Islamofascist Lamb Tagine.
catnip (for Tunch)
edible green s h * t (for Lily)
I am not sure what kind of edible green **** would be acceptable to Cole, so he is on his own there.
fry up some herbal enhancements and add that, to take the edge off the cold. Also.
@elmo: I’ve actually never been able to make decent beef broth, I believe because I’ve never been able to get the bones done right. I’ve tried the roasting, but I still seem unable to get the full beef flavor to come out even when I reduce the broth. Chicken, fish, veggie broth—no problem, but beef just never seems to work out.
I’m going to go against the grain (har, har) of those naming barley, and suggest farro instead.
A little different.
I don’t bother. The local grocery chain here, Giant Eagle, makes a lovely beef stock you can buy by the carton. It’s made in-store, so it’s fresh. They do the same for chicken (though chicken stock is the easiest thing in the world), too. The other stock they make is a shellfish stock that is easier and less liable to stink up the kitchen than doing it myself. If you are lucky enough to live near a Giant Eagle (PA, WV, and OH), you should try their MarketFresh brand.
@Zoogz: I was gonna suggest this, then I thought it might be a bit out there. Shoulda known nothing is too out there for this crowd.
Hot peppers, lots and lots of hot peppers.
Add fresh cabbage and corn. Yum.
Environmentalists are the most effective advocates in the world. They cannot be stopped, they can only be slowed, and they change tactics constantly. They have like 4 tiers running at the same time: public opinion, legislative, administrative and executive, and then they switch up and go tothe states.
I suspect it’s because it’s a really old movement. They must be on third generation activists by now.
Kale is a nice addition, so are collards.
@jwb: I’m a good cook, but I’m not a patch on my partner — and she’s the one who does the soups and stocks and so forth. I know that with a beef soup or stock, she always always always uses roasted bones of some kind.
Do you refrigerate it overnight and then skim off the fat? She does that.
Plantains. Well, about half a plantain, actually, about 1/2 inch slices, cut into quarters. Cooked, they have a nice texture and flavor for your stew, and they add an overall sweetness that enhances the rest of the flavors. Plus, the resistant starch component adds nutritional benefit and even protects you from that sinful desert you’re certainly planning. Seriously, what’s not to like?
Well if you’re going to roast marrow bones, it would be a crime to toss them in the soup.
Serve them alongside toasted bread and a parsley salad. Spread marrow on bread, sprinkle parsley salad on top. Best lunch in the world.
Free At Last
Butternut squash (if not already mentioned)
@erlking: I second the Guinness as an addition and a side!
I prefer diced celeriac (aka celery root) to celery in soup. It has a similar taste and doesn’t go all mushy.
Best appetizer in the world. Yummy. My fake boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, and I agree with you on the bone marrow.
* Add 1/2 again as much water as beef stock you used. Cube some sweet potatoes and add them before cooking. Add some coconut milk and soy sauce or tamari during cooking. Toward the end of the cooking cycle, use the back of a wooden spoon to crush the cubed sweet potatoes. It is the perfect starch to thicken the soup. Then add a handful (or 2 or 3) of chopped cilantro and stir until it has reached your desired thickness.
It’s the perfect way to “Thai” up any soup.
cinnamon parsnip soup is fantastic. made it 3 weeks in a row.
@jl: alas, ramps are horribly out of season. personally, i prefer them sauteed with fiddleheads & morels.
I forgot – he had that as one of his “death row” meals.
I can’t remember whether his #1 was bone marrow or crispy pig tails. Mmm, crispy pig tails.
quinoa. But only because I’ve just recently started ‘playing’ with the stuff. Amazing, the essential amino acids plus protein and fiber. And interestingly tasty when spiced up and/or added to soup.
Cabbage! Turnips! (adds a really nice but subtle spiciness.) And at the last 5 minutes, throw in some skinny noodles. A little red wine never hurt a veggie soup either.
How about some nice herbed dumplings on top? Caraway seeds are a good flavor addition to dumplings too.
Barley and some smoked pork butt. I love the smokey flavor the pork adds, and I usually add it with the celery and carrots.
Bad Horse's Filly
@Stooleo: Yeah! Another pressure cooker convert. Welcome to the easy cooking club.
Careful on the vegemite, it is definitely an acquired taste.
this sounds good. also thai fish sauce.
for a totally diff take:
-make a paste outta garlic, canola oil, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes.
-brown it in some buttter over low/med heat
-add your fav curry powder to the mix, heat thru.
-add to stock/broth, veggies, protein of your choice.
-cook together for 20ish minutes, seasoning to taste.
-garnish w/cilantro. win.
Comrade Sock Puppet of the Great Satan
“Also I recently got a stove top pressure cooker (Fagor) and I must say it is the best thing I have purchased for the kitchen in over a decade. It is fantastic for soups stews and grains. Not only does it speed up the cooking time, I think it improves the textures of the dish. The risotto you can whip up is amazing and it only takes 20 minutes.”
I’m another pressure cooker lover, but microwaving arborio rice for risotto is the way to go, friends. Do the rice in the microwave, and the condimenti on the stove. F**k that stirring every 30 seconds shit.
Turnips. Vegetable soup always needs turnips.
Also your recipe needs more cowbell.
I started adding garlic, onions, some crushed tomatoes, a bit of oregano and a whole jalapeno pepper to my beef soup. It gives it a bit of a kick which is nice on a cold day. Sometimes I also add 1/4 cup of rice to give it more substance.
Well, this is more a question for my wife (not available) who is known around our house as the Soup Goddess.
I’m pretty sure there are supernatural forces at work when she creates Soup, but I know for a fact that one of her secret ingredients is fancy mustard. The kind with seeds in it, not the spicy brown stuff.
She also makes heavy use of fresh herbs. I think in general she’s not afraid to be generous with the herbs.
Add some butternut squash about 45 minutes before the soup is done cooking.
Comrade Sock Puppet of the Great Satan
“Careful on the vegemite, it is definitely an acquired taste”
However, vegemite or other yeast extracts are great for addign vitamins and a “meaty” taste to vegetarian cooking.
I like the barley idea but I would use Fregole di Sarda – small, toasted pasta from Sardinina. Plus, one fennel bulb would be tsty
Comrade Sock Puppet of the Great Satan
Also, if you can get the British Marmite, it’s a bit more immediately palatable and not as much of an acquired taste as Vegemite.
@Comrade Sock Puppet of the Great Satan:
It’s an acquired taste straight – like on toast – as my Sydneyite other half has taught me to eat it (I actually crave it at times now), but in soup all you get is the good. Not difficult to take for those not used to it.
That’s an interesting point. I’ve been wanting to learn more about the strategies of the Environmentalists–do you have any good links or book recommendations?
Without changing your basic dish, I always add some chopped cabbage, turnips, green pepper, and onion (instead of leeks).
Dumplings. I know, that’s more stew faire but on a cold day…dumplings.
For the mushrooms, saute them separately with garlic, butter, and white pepper, then toss them in towards the end.
Do something similar to any other veggies and meat that could use the extra boost. This brings out the individual flavors of your ingredients.
Sherry is great, but I once used a sauce that combined sherry and hot pepper that was truly awesome. I found the bottle in the back of my parents’ cabinet, but haven’t come across it since. Anyone know where I could get more?
a dollop of creme fraiche???
Hmmm. If the tomatoes weren’t already there, I’d suggest tossing in some ground peanuts.
Judging from what’s already there, it looks like you’re aiming for subtle rather than overpowering, so I’d throw in a bunch of thyme and maybe cilantro, though not until about sixty minutes before you’re done (fifteen for the cilantro).
You could slowly simmer/braise some ginger root separately and add it in around the same time you add the thyme; I’d pull off a ladle full of broth and test the braised ginger root liquid with that before committing to put it into the rest of the pot. If it doesn’t work, hang onto the root and the liquid, toss in some sugar, and cook a while longer; you now have the basis of a ginger chutney.
The last time I made beef stew, I added a can of diced tomatoes that were already spiced, with sugar and other stuff added. I didn’t mean to buy the pre-spiced stuff–I’m generally more of purist–but since I had it I used it, and it worked amazingly well. I guess a bit of sugar is as important as salt and pepper for adding zest to soup.
@Jess: Sugar’s useful for taking excess sting from chiles, while leaving their flavor intact. Toss in enough sugar or honey and you can serve habaneros to your grandma.
Not my mother. She thinks Taco Bell is too hot. Me, I haven’t eaten at a Taco Bell in at least 10 years & I grow habaneros in my garden every year.
spinach leaves on top when you are close to getting done with the cooking.
It might be to late this time but bake your beef bones for the stock. It makes a richer darker stock with a lot more flavor. Cabbage is nice.
Greens! Spinach toward the end is good, but you can also use turnip or mustard greens finely chopped. It is the season.
Add some ginger. If you’re of a mind to, add some lemongrass during the stock-making.
Actually, most anything is better with ginger.
Yes, hence the usefulness of Thai iced tea with your curry…I was amazed at how it added to the richness of the flavor of beef soup. I guess a good dollop of sherry works for that.
“it” meaning the sugar, not the iced tea!
The best thing to add is (and it was mentioned briefly above) parmesan rind.
I find that a 1 to 2 square inch piece, about 1/4 inch thick works for a large pot of soup. I like to leave the piece large so it is easier to avoid serving to guests. After cooking a while it is just a gelatinous mass that isn’t very appetizing.
This is also great for red sauce and a lot of other dishes.
Had an elderly Russian friend years ago who used to make borscht, but not the clear Jewish borscht, but a rich tomato-beef-cabbage-beet borscht choc-a-bloc with vegetables and meat. Right before serving, she’d stir in a bit of lemon juice to spark it, then serve with a big blob of sour cream in the soup dish. With some dark rye bread and a glass of beer on the side, it was a meal for the ages — keep you warm for at least a week.
I think y’all are right–a Balloon Juice cookbook seems to be needed. Most of the ideas are great–I disagree with the liquid smoke because I don’t like it, also the b.sprouts and the broccoli, because to me long cooktimes for those 2 veggies ruins them.
Heat the onions, mushrooms and garlic in a pan until they are translucent. Then toss in some white win to get all the residual flavors from the pan. Then go forward and make soup as recommended. It means the flavors go into the soup without the individual elements losing their distinct taste.
My Mom grew hot peppers in her garden and I tried them one year, too. I did what I saw her do with the leftover peppers at the end of the season. Thread a needle with double thread, knot the end, string the peppers through the stalk, making sure they do not touch each other (space them) and hang them up to dry. It’s the best crushed pepper ever and it decorated my kitchen.
I do the same for my herbs. I put the stalks together, ties them and hang them up along the kitchen window.
Any chiles coming from NM is a great addition to almost any recipe.
I come from Arizona, but had friends that pointed out the greatness that are New Mexico red and green chiles.
I’m cooking a lot from Apache, Navajo and Anasazi recipes. It’s so great to get great posole and chiles and turn them into wonderful American Cuisine!!!
Comrade Sock Puppet of the Great Satan
I spent three months in 1991 just outside of Moscow. Had a landlady who cooked for me who made a *killer* borscht with sour cream, dill and a dash of some Finnish or Karelian sour liquor. For breakfast, with two additional courses of buckwheat porridge and fruit compote or pickled vegetables.
That, and Gorbachev being kidnapped and the Soviet Union disintegrating two weeks after I got there, made the trip for me.
I gained about ten pounds, but as I was grad student then I needed it. Jesus the Russians can eat as well as drink.