Sunday, 7 December 2014

Beef Barley Soup with Cheddar Green Onion Biscuits

Comfort food at its best. There is nothing better on a cold, snowy day than this soup. Sooooooo much better than anything that you can get from a can. Use the best quality products that you can find, it really does make a difference. I like to use organic carrots and celery, not only because they don't have any chemicals on them, but because they just taste better than non-organic. Always read the labels. Look for things like extra sugar/glucose, fructose, EDTA, BHT and other nasty stuff. We have so much junk in our food and I think that its making us sick and fat.

Start by cutting the beef into 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle the beef with 2 or 3 tablespoons of flour

Brown the beef  on medium high heat in a couple tablespoons of oil. Season with a little salt and pepper. I like to season as I go. We are starting to make layers of flavour. By seasoning each layer helps to make a really great, full flavoured soup.

The flour will make a nice brown layer on the bottom of the pot. This brown crust creates great flavour. Don't' worry about scrapping it off of the bottom of the pot, it will come of when you add the veggies and liquid ingredients.

Add the onions, carrot and celery. I call these three the holy trinity of cooking. Onions, celery and carrots are part of so many dishes in all parts of the world. They add great flavour. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Stir occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium low and let the vegetables cook for five or ten minutes.

Add the mushrooms and garlic. Add a bit more salt and pepper. Let the mixture cook until the mushrooms release some of their moisture.

Add the potatoes, tomato puree, and beef broth.

Add the herbs, barley, salt, pepper, and salsa.
You must taste everything that you cook. Never assume that there is enough salt. You don't know until you taste.

Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer soup for one or two hours.

While the soup simmers, make the biscuits.

Combine all the dry ingredient. Using a pastry cutter cut the cold butter into the flour mixture. Keep cutting until the pieces of butter are about the size of small peas or oatmeal.

The little lumps of butter will melt when the biscuits are baked. This is one of the things that make these biscuits flaky. Toss the finely grated cheddar cheese with the flour mixture. This step helps the chess not to lump together.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add all of the buttermilk. The buttermilk helps to make these biscuits tender.

Combine the ingredients until the mixture comes together and forms a ball.

Turn the ball and any loos flour onto the counter top. Make a small dent in the middle of the ball and add the sliced green onion.  Kneed the dough a bit so that most of the flour and the onion is incorporated.

Roll the dough so that it is 1/2-1 inch thick

Using a  cookie cutter, cut the dough into biscuits. I have used a three inch round cutter here.

Bake the biscuits for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees. Adding cheese and green onions makes these biscuits special. 

An excellent pairing. 

The soup  and biscuits both freeze and reheat well. 

Beef Barley Soup
1 pound stewing beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons of oil
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery stalks, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
2 cups diced mushrooms
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups diced potatoes
3 cups pureed tomatoes(1 28oz can)
6 cups good quality beef broth
1/3 cup pearl barley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1-2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup salsa

Toss beef cubes with flour. In a large soup pot brown beef  in oil. Stir occasionally. Continue to cook until beef is browned and there are brown bitts on the bottom of the pot. Season the beef with a bit of salt and pepper. Add onions, celery and carrots. Add a bit of salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat for five or ten minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic. Cook for another ten minutes. Add potatoes, tomatoes, broth, barley, herbs, salt and pepper to taste, and salsa. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for an hour or two.

While the soup simmers, Make the biscuits

Cheddar Green Onion Biscuits
3 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
3 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup cold butter
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 1/2 cups finely grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup diced green onions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, and baking powder. Using a pastry cutter or knife, cut the cold butter into the flour mixture. Keep cutting the butter into the flour until the butter bits are the size of small peas or oatmeal. Toss the grated cheddar into the flour/butter mixture. Make a well in the flour, add all of the buttermilk. Mix to combine. Dump the contents of the bowl out onto counter top and continue to mix with your hands. Knead the dough until everything is incorporated. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough about 1/2-1 inch thick. I like to use a three inch, round cookie cutter. See my video for a demonstration on how to roll and cut the dough. Put the biscuits on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake them for 15-20 minutes, until they are golden brown.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Orzo Soup

Just a few ingredients can make an awesome meal. Wholesome and satisfying, your family's gonna love it.
Chop the carrots, celery and onion. Sauté in the oil for about 5 min. Add the garlic. Sauté for a few more minutes.

Add tomatoes, stock and herbs. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer fro 20-30 minutes.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Add pasta and cook uncovered, stirring often until the noodles are tender.
Watch me make it on youtube.

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery, chopped
  • 1 28oz can tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup orzo noodles

Saute onion, carrots and celery in oil until onions are translucent. Add garlic and sauté for a few minutes. Add tomatoes, stock, herbs, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender. Add noodles and simmer on low until pasta is tender.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Grandma's Vegetable Soup

My maternal Grandmother was a great cook. Grandma and Grandpa had eleven children and fed them well with what little resources that they had. It wasn't fancy fair but it was always satisfying.
Their entire backyard was a huge vegetable garden and about one third of the basement was dedicated to the preserving and storing of those vegetables. My mom made many of her mothers dishes for me and I now make them for my kids with the hope that they will make them for my grandchildren.

It is important that this, and other recipes from our loved ones are preserved and documented. Not only because they are delicious and comforting but also because of the memories that they invoke.
So, an homage to Grandma Keller, here is her vegetable soup recipe.

1 cup onion,chopped 
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrot, chopped
2 cups cabbage, chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 tbsp canola oil or butter
4 cups cold water
1 chicken bouillon cube(vegetable if you wish)
1 1/2-2 cups cream or (2 cups cashew cream, recipe to follow)

Sauté carrots, onion, celery and cabbage in oil until tender. About 10 minutes. Cover vegetables with cold water, add the peas and bouillon.

 Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes. 

When vegetables are tender, purée with an immersion blender. Remove pot from heat and stir in cream. Serve immediately.

As an alternative to cream, you can use cashew cream

Cashew cream
I discovered this cream when I was researching vegan diets. I use this cream in some dishes to replace real cream even though I don't follow a vegan diet today. The benefit in using nuts instead of dairy is two fold. One, cashew cream is stable at hotter and colder temperatures. You have probably experienced dairy curdling or separating after it was heated or frozen. Second, it contains no cholesterol, yep, none.

Here's how to make it:
1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1 cup water
Combine water and cashews. Let it sit for at least 1 hour. Blend at high speed for 2 or 3 minutes, until puréed. Use as you would cream. This proportion of nuts to water will make it as thick as thin cream if you would like a thicker consistency, reduce the water by half of a cup.

Sorry family I have altered the recipe a bit. It still tastes the same.

Typically we would eat this soup with a dish called kuga. This is basically a kind of a one crust fruit pie, using bread dough instead of pastry. I only make this when the peaches are in season and perfectly ripe. This is my family's favorite. You can also use plums or apples. Look for the recipe when we get close to peach season.
German in origin, there are many recipes for kuga. Each family has their own variation.
Check out the Youtube video

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Dill Pickle Potato Soup

1 large onion, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
6 cups raw potato, diced
8 cups good quality vegetable(or chicken stock if preferred)
1-1.5 cups whole milk or cream
1 tsp dried dill weed 1/4 cup dill pickle juice
salt and pepper

In a large Dutch oven, sauté the veggies in a little oil until the onions are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add the stock and potatoes to the pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender. Blend with emersion blender or conventional blender. Add dill weed, pickle juice and milk. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped chives or chopped dill pickle.

Very hearty and satisfying. Makes a lot so you can feed your people fast for those weekday suppers. Just add a biscuit or bun and that's all you need. Make it vegan by replacing the milk with almond milk.