It’s cold outside. I mean, lick-a-pole-and-stick-to-it cold. And what’s better on a day like that than a nice hearty soup? How about a nice hearty soup that isn’t like a lead weight in your stomach? I like chicken soup like the rest of the souls out there, but sometimes I am looking for something a little different – so I make a beef soup which is as light a broth as chicken soup but with a little bit more complex flavor and it also includes a nice bit of wine (c’mon, beef? wine? one pot? almost health-food comfort ?!?). It’s really easy to throw this soup together, and for those of you wanting to clear out your fridge, this is all kinds of customizable, just make sure you have at least 1 hour to give it a good shot to develop flavors. Here are the ingredients (estimated amounts – I was in a hurry) – you can use beef shanks, shin, or oxtail also in this soup, just make sure you have some bone-in beef involved – and make sure you read the extra notes at the bottom:
1 package bone-in meaty beef short ribs (roughly 1.5 lbs)
1 package boneless beef short ribs
1 cup red wine (use something you would otherwise drink – or maybe day old wine from an unfinished *gasp!* bottle)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 whole white onion
1.5 cups baby carrots (or several large ones cut into chunks)
1 rib celery, chunked
4-5 whole stalks of parsley
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme (or maybe a scant teaspoon of dried thyme – definitely NOT as good)
1 large clove of garlic, lightly smooshed
2 cups store bought beef broth (or you can add more water and use 1-2 packs of beef boullion)
10 cups of water
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cooked rice or orzo to add at the end when you are ready to serve
Place the olive oil in a large stock pot and heat under high heat. Add the meat, salt it and allow it to brown lightly, turning to get all sides. Add wine and tomato paste and allow to boil on high heat for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and leave the heat on high until the pot comes to a rolling boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to simmer the soup for at least 45 minutes – 1 hour. The longer the better.
A couple important notes:
1. I will almost never say this otherwise, but don’t salt anything again until you are almost ready to serve. Boullion and store-bought broth are way salty, so you may not need to add much more.
2. If you are using the boullion packest instead of the broth, or in combination with it – I used 1/2 a packet + broth – add it slowly and allow it to simmer for a minute – taste it – see if you need more – you want to make sure it doesn’t get super salty
3. SUPER IMPORTANT – while the soup is simmering on low, you will notice after a while that it gets an oily film on top – this is the fat from the meat. DO NOT STIR THE POT. Use a spoon to skim off a 90% of the fat (leave a little for taste!) as this will give you a lighter, non-greasy soup. Once you’ve removed the fat, stir till your little heart is content. (I do this fat-removal step with chicken soup as well)
4. I like to eat the meat from the soup at room temperature the next day on top of a nice mixed salad with a light vinagrette.
When you are ready to serve, add the starch to the bowl and ladle the soup over top. The meat should be nice and tender too. Sometimes I like to add a sprinkle of Parmesan to the bowl.