Saturday, November 7, 2009

Beef Vegetable, Stone Soup Style

Do you know the story of stone soup? It's essentially the story of how a homeless man (or in the parlance of the day, a wandering traveler) came to town looking for some food for work but no one wanted to open their doors to him for fear that he would rob them. Not to be deterred, the traveler announces in the town square that he's going to make the most delicious soup from a stone.

As the man places his pot full of water with a stone in it over the fire he has built, curious town folk begin to gather to see how he will produce this magical soup. Drawn in by his story telling, one by one they contribute a vegetable here, a meat bone there and some grains here. Soon it truly is a delicious soup boiling away and drawing the whole town with its delicious scent. In the end it is enough to feed all and everyone is so pleased with having contributed to the magical soup.

I love so many elements about this story; the traveler's faith in changing the town folk's minds, the soup feeding all, and most of all, the creation of something satisfying and nourishing from humble ingredients. This recipe could easily be the soup of the story and I love its meaty flavor without the heaviness that meat can impart to soups.

Beef Vegetable Stone Soup Style

1 beef marrow bone
4 qts water
bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 fresh fennel, chopped
2 red potatoes, chopped
2 stems fresh thyme
1/2 cup barley
2 teaspoons salt
pepper to taste

Place bone, water and bay leaf in stock pot, bring to slow boil and reduce heat. Simmer for at least 1 hour, 2 is best. In sauce pan, heat olive oil and add onion and garlic and cook 2 minutes until you begin to smell garlic. Add carrots and celery and cook another 3 minutes and then add fennel, stir well and cook another 2 minutes. Add potatoes, thyme, barley and 4 cups of prepared beef stock with bay leaf and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until barley is cooked. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs, season with salt and pepper. Skim beef fat off top and serve.

Store leftover beef stock in glass mason jar and allow beef fat to collect at top to seal stock. Freeze for 3 months or refrigerate for 1 week.


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