It’s been embarrassingly too long since I updated the blog last, some 6 months ago, methinks. A lot has happened and to be fair, I haven’t been cooking much in the past 3-4 months, what with my new job and all the travels that happened surrounding it.
Yeah, it’s kind of a downer (and horror to the waistline) that I didn’t cook very much for that length, but the trade-off really was worth it. Let’s see… In November 2013, I had the privilege to visit a few of world’s best beaches in Kailua area (Kalama, Kailua and Lanikai beaches) on O’ahu, hiked the Waimea Canyons on Kau’ai, indulge on strict organic diet for 2 weeks throughout my stay in Hawaii. Then in December 2013 I went on to Indonesia to visit the maternal authority – ate all sorts of Indonesian delicacy and generally spent time with loved ones. Upon returning to Japan, I was introduced to one of world’s tallest Buddha statue in Ushiku.
Then in January 2014, I started my new job. This job then demanded that I visited New York for a couple of weeks for induction. I’ve been to New York 4 times now, it really boggles me how 3 out of the 4 times I was there, it was always the Winter time. New York also treated me with fashionable Polar Vortex twice. Maybe now I can finally say that I’ve seen it all? Who knows. I got to see Philadelphia, too and had a short visit to Washington DC area.
Then I returned to Japan only to find my way again to Indonesia for a few days – my cousin’s wedding. Interestingly enough, I dodged two snow storms in Japan by being in New York and Jakarta. What do they call the people who always manage to dodge natural calamities? I seem to acquire the knack for it these days.
I am finally back in Japan again and as of February 15th I don’t have any travel plans looming in the agenda. I get to see the inside of my apartment again! I get to grocery shop again!!! There is a stove that I have an access to! Excitement. Excitement.
Anyways, so it’s been about 6 days since I am cooking again. Adapting to Japan’s cold Winter, I found myself cooking a lot of soup. After all when it’s so chilly outside, a good bowl of hearty soup is all you need to cheer your tummy. I’d like to share with you one soup recipe that is perfect for lazy Sunday suppers.
Beef + Root Veggies + Barley Soup
Adapted from: Sunday Soup by Betty Rosbottom
750 gram – 1 kg boneless beef chuck, trimmed of excess fat, cut into big chunks for browning
a few lugs of olive oil for sautéing meat and vegetables, or use oil sprayer to reduce amount
8 cups (2 Litre) beef stock
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 medium sized carrots, peeled, halved and cut into 50 mm-thick slices
1 big rib of celery, halved and cut into 50 mm-thick slices. Chop the celery leaves and put aside.
2 medium potatoes, peeled, halved and cut into 3 cm cubes
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
200 gram sliced mushroom
1 cup pearl barley (uncooked)
1 tsp crushed dried thyme
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley for garnish
1 heavy bottomed pot that can hold about 4 L of contents. I used a 27-cm oval Le Creuset casserole
1 heavy skillet/ fry pan for sautéing vegetables and mushrooms
- Pat meat dry with towel.
- Coat the bottom of pot with olive oil from a sprayer (original recipe calls for about 4-5 Tbsp, I find it excessive and use an oil olive sprayer instead). Set the pot over medium-high heat. When oil is hot (but not smoking, because that’s too hot), add pieces of meat and brown on all sides, turning often. This process will take about 4-5 minutes. Transfer meat to paper towels to drain. Then cut into 3 cm cubes. Set aside.
- Remove pot from heat and wipe out any excess oil with a paper towel. Return meat to pan and add beef stock (I made with 2 L hot water and 1 1/2 block of Knorr beef cube), Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, salt and several grinds of black pepper. Bring concoction to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and put lid on. Cook at simmer for 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
- While the meat is cooking, coat the bottom of your heavy skillet/fry pan with olive oil from a sprayer. Set the skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chopped carrots, celery (not the leaves!) and onion and sauté until slightly softened (about 5 minutes). Remove skillet from heat. Transfer content to a medium bowl.
- Wipe out any excess oil with a paper towel. Again, coat the bottom of skillet with olive oil from a sprayer. Set the skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the mushrooms and sauté until lightly browned (about 4-5 minutes). Set aside.
- After the meat has cooked for 1 to 1 1/2 hours (check flavour and meat’s tenderness. I used Wagyu beef chucks, so they get quite tender already within an hour or so), add the sautéed vegetables prepared in step 4, cubed potato, barley and thyme to the pot. Bring mixture to a simmer, cover and cook until barley and meat are tender, about 40-50 minutes. Stir occasionally, adding more water if consistency becomes too thick.
- Add the sautéed mushrooms to the soup and simmer until heated through for about 2-3 minutes. Taste soup and season with salt and pepper as needed. Add chopped celery leaves, stir until mixed through and turn off the heat.
- To serve, ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chopped parsley if desired.
- Overall cooking time is about 2 1/2 hours to 3 hours. You can prepare the soup in advance, and in fact the flavour will improve overnight. Just make sure to cool, cover and refrigerate once cooked.
- To reheat: add a little bit of water to thin and put on medium-heat. You may want to correct flavour with some salt and pepper.