DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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8 April 2014

Vegetable soup with bone marrow


There are fashions in foods as well as clothes. At the moment the food fads seem to be kale, bone broth, any "new" grain such as quinoa, spelt or amaranth, toast (yes, toast), kimchee and other ferments and coconut oil. I'm sure there are others I've failed to notice. If you've been reading here for a while, you'll know I'm not a follower of fashion. I think fashion cheats us. It makes us want something, then when we have it, it says you can't like it anymore, there is something better. Throw out the old, buy this, it's better. Pfffftt! When you've been around as long as I have, you'll realise that most things go in and out of fashion and you should just like what you like, regardless.

If you think I don't care for any of the food fads I've mentioned, think again, because I think they're all great foods. The thing is though that I don't see them as something new, like most of our ancestors, yours included, I've been using all of them for many years and will continue on, even when they've gone out of fashion (again). If you could phone your great grandma right now and ask her about food, she wouldn't know what Big Macs, Pop Tarts or Yoghurt Tubes are but she would know every one of those foods. She might know kimchee as sauerkraut, but she'd not only know fermented cabbage but would be able to show you how to make it.




Overall, having these old foods as fads shows that the trend now is towards healthier foods. Food that needs time, thought and preparation. This is not food you'll find being prepared by teenagers in a fast food joint, this is for home cooks because it's food for growing children and food for families. When I was growing up, there weren't packets of stock on supermarket shelves, most home cooks made their own stock. Bones would be saved from a roast or bought raw from the butcher and a 24 hour slow cooking session would result in the most nutritious stock to make into a soup. That long slow cooking brings the minerals - calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sulphur, and others, out of the bones, it dissolves the gristle and gives you a form of glucosamine and chondroiton that is easily digestible and beneficial.  Usually you see that being sold as a supplement to help treat arthritis.

Stock can be made out of most bones but if you can add bone marrow to the mix, you've got yourself a super soup. Try to buy free range, grass fed or organic bones if you can but don't fuss over it. Buy what you can afford. You'll have to get the butcher to cut the bones for you because many marrow bones are long bones and won't fit into your stockpot. This is my recipe for winter vegetable soup. It's made of bone stock, bone marrow, root vegetables and barley - my favourite grain of all time. Roasting the bones until they're brown will add to the flavour of the soup but isn't necessary. You could roast the barley too if you wanted to, it will add more flavour but also adds to the time needed to make the soup.

My recipe for this soup isn't really my recipe, it's my family's recipe.; it might even be your family's recipe. My parents made it, my grandmother made it and I have no doubt she watched as her mother and granny made it too. Into a large stockpot (about 8 litres/quarts) add the bones and cover them with water. Add about half a teaspoon of pepper, two tablespoons of vinegar (that helps extract the minerals from the bones), a handful of parsley, two bay leaves and an onion. Bring it to the boil and let it slowly simmer all day. You could let this cook for a couple of days if you wanted to but 24 hours will give you good stock. The larger the bones, the longer you'll need to cook them. You can turn it off overnight if you want to and start it up the following morning. If you have a wood stove, leave it on the stove for the entire cooking time. If you notice scum develop and rise to the top, skim it off with a slotted spoon. When the stock is cooked, strain it through a sieve to remove the bones, herbs and onion. If the bones are marrow bones, put them to the side, you'll use them again soon.



The night before making the soup, pour two cups of barley into a bowl, cover with water and rinse the grains. Grains aren't really dirty but they are stored in silos and transported around and they pick up dust. Rinse them off, run clean water over them and let them sit overnight soaking in a covered bowl. This will soften the grains and start off the sprouting process. 



To make the soup: pour your stock into the stockpot, add the soaked barley and about half a kilo/one pound of diced lean gravy beef, shin beef or any of the cheaper cuts that contain gristle. The gristle will break down during the cooking and add more nutrients to the soup. Bring the mix to the boil, turn the heat down to a simmer, and with the lid on, simmer for an hour or two to soften the meat. Peel and chop or grate one swede/rutabaga, two parsnips, three carrots, three sticks of celery, one chopped onion, a hand full of parsley. Test taste the stock for seasoning and add what you think it needs. As the vegetables are cooking, remove as much marrow as you can from the bones and add it to the soup. Cook for another 30 - 40 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked. You'll often find pockets of marrow that will easily slip out, sometimes you have to dig around with the end of a spoon.  Back 200 years, they routinely had marrow spoons in kitchens. Now you only find them in antique shops, although I've looked for many years and never found one. I use the end of a sharp small spoon - see above.

Often the bones you use will add fat to the stock. You can get rid of it by cooling the stock in the fridge so the fat forms a layer on the top. When it forms it's easy to scrape it off with a spoon.

This is a very hearty and nutritious soup that will fill up even staunch meat eaters. Add some bread on the side if you wish. If the family still need filling, make a nice simple pudding or pie. I made a coconut and blueberry impossible pie last week that would be ideal but custard and fresh banana or milk pudding would be just as good. If you need recipes for puddings, let me know and we can do some recipes for them next week. I hope you love the soup as much as we do. It will certainly be a healthy addition to your winter menu.


31 comments:

  1. Meat cooked on the bone always gives food a better flavour and bone marrow...........is something else high in the flavour stakes!
    Love pearl barley too, always have. I don't follow fashion either! Since foodies and 'top' chefs have made things like beef,lamb and pigs' hearts fashionable, it's upped the price over here and priced them out of my very frugal budget! Bless 'em!

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  2. Hi Rhonda,
    This is a timely post for me. I have been learning about bone broths. I have always made my own chicken stock but as we don't eat a lot of red meat, I have not made beef broth. This week I am going to a local grass fed meat supplier and on my shopping list is bones for the express purpose to make broth. I recently saw bone broth cooked in a slow cooker. Have you ever tried preparing it this way?
    Thanks, Sue

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    1. My slow cooker isn't big enough to make this, Sue. I know some American ladies who make stock in slow cookers but I think they have the really big cookers holding about 8 or 9 litres/quarts. You'll get an excellent stock with this if you do the long slow cooking. Good luck, love.

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  3. Loved your comments about food fads... we have eaten like this as farming families for 4 generations - it feels funny when visitors tell us with are 'so up with the latest things' . they aren't the latest things and we have just fallen into being fashionable and not weird for a short period of time. Meanwhile my 90 year old grandmother tells us we are crazy going back in time when you can buy a nice tin of soup in the supermarket . I think perhaps at 90 , I might be happy to buy a tin of soup too...but for now I just love cooking from scratch just like Grandma did.

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  4. Love love the soup recipe Rhonda and I sure would like to see some pie, custard recipes as well.
    Thanks

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  5. Hi Ronda....this is what we call "Grannies Soup" and yes, it is lovely. We tend to use osso bucco meat with the marrow bones which we roast in the oven first. BTW, not many of my friends knew about using vinegar in soup. I am a lucky girl because my Dad made me a marrow bone spoon with a wooden handle. We rarely have dessert but would love to see your pudding recipes. Have a good day, whatever you are doing. Cheers

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    1. What a great Dad! He's worth his weight in bone marrow.

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  6. I also have those vivid recollections of a Soup Pot simmering on the back burner of my Nana's, then my Mama's stove tops.
    I am so thankful for this wonderful heritage and to continue the stockpot tradition. I'm happy to say I've passed this on to the next generation as well.
    I grow my own Bay trees, and you can imagine my surprised pleasure when my youngest son (young man now) wanted to send a packet of my organic dried Bay leaves as a Christmas gift to one of his "soup making friends".
    Fad for some....however, in this family we will always think of Soup as the Best Stuff in Life~!

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  7. Hi Rhonda,

    I could smell the wonderful savory smells of your soup from your writings!! ;-)

    My mother pressure cooked our "tough meats" (from the home slaughter) until they fell off the bone. She had the living daylights scared out of us about using pressure cookers - as they were "too dangerous." But she successfully used them primarily for our vegetables.

    After I left home I invested in a used pressure cooker (model from 1940's) for myself, as they hastened the cooking process (reducing the amount of gas used, keeping the temps in the kitchen cooler [right now it is 102F], producing a tender flavorful meal (I brown the meat, onions, and chayote in the pan before starting to make the rest of the soup) and making it quicker to finish the meal- a bonus since I was a working mom).

    I was wondering about the nutrient status of pressure cooked food compared to long-cooked stove top food. This link provided some useful information in that regard. http://www.foodrenegade.com/pressure-cooking-healthy/ that I thought might interest reader who might be in a similar temperature or financial situation.

    Thanks, too for the link to homemade liquid soap - I had been looking for one for a while! I am so.excited!! to find it.

    Wishing you and Hanno a wonderful day and week!! All the best as you continue your writing!

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  8. I made some soup using the leftover chicken bones in the crockpot yesterday and added barley which was a tad chewy as I hadn't soaked them overnight which I will do next time. Soups are nice now that ther is a nip in the air. You are right about seeing the fashions come and go, Rhonda. When you get to our age you observe to hat what is old is new again in fashion, crafts and cooking etc.

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  9. Morning Rhonda, two questions from a newbie to stock-making, approx. what weight of bones do you use in this recipe (so I know how much to ask the butcher for) and also does the onion go in whole or cut? Oh, just one more question - about how many servings does this recipe make? Think I will give it a whirl this weekend - sounds like a perfect Sunday night supper to me. Thanks again, Kaz :)

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    1. Kaz, it doesn't really matter. I use as many as I can fit into the pot, that's usually about 1 kilo/2.2lbs. If you keep the pot topped up with water as it evaporates, you'll end up with about 7.5 litres/quarts, and that would be about 15 two cup servings. We eat a two cup serving here because it's our main meal. If you're serving something else as well, you could cut that down a bit.

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    2. Just roughly chop the onion.

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    3. Thank-you! I am usually ok with a pinch of this and a splash of that recipes but when I'm trying something new I like to follow the rules :) the first time. How exciting, I can't wait. We have recently had some painting done inside and everything smells very `painty' at present, reckon the smell of a good stock simmering away will be the perfect antidote!

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  10. My mum used to make a similar soup using rabbit bones. Back in the day, before foodies made it famous, rabbit was much cheaper than chicken and this was the main meat, other than the sunday roast. Mum would do a rabbit stew and the bones would be saved to make soup with. I'd love to do this in the current day and age but we are so time poor that this simply wouldnt fit into a busy daily work routine? Also concerned about the expense of running a gas stove for 24hrs just to make a small amount of soup.

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    1. Ahhh, the good old rabbit. I remember mum buying a rabbit from the butcher for sixpence. Like many of the "old fashioned" meats, rabbit is quite expensive now. Julie, if you have a slow cooker, rabbit stew or soup would make up wonderfully in it. You could prepare it in the morning and have it slow cooking all day.

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  11. Thank you Rhonda for the wonderful way you share your knowledge with us. I have a friend who claims that he may not be so intelligent but that he has a dose or two of common sense, and that will so for him. I think common sense and intelligence must be like old fashioned know how and fashion fads. Whilst what the clever and intelligentsia tell us is time and again shown to fall short of entirely true, good ole home grown common sense keeps plodding along keeping the wheels turning. Thank goodness for those the like of you who are willing (and so able!) to share this difference with us. As a culture we seem to have thoughtlessly stumbled from the goodness, support and knowledge of small community and extended family, not knowing the price we are paying. How fortunate we are then to have the wonder of the www to bring these conversations and learning back into our kitchens.

    May the day bring you sunshine and smiles,

    Toodle pip - Katja

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  12. You have just reminded me that its time to make some bacon bone soup - my husband's favourite! Thanks Rhonda :)

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  13. Oh I love a delicious and hearty soup Rhonda! Yours looks great. Perfect for autumn and wintertime!

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  14. Oh that looks good, and I could taste it as you talked about making it.... yes I am sure most of us can remember our Moms and grandmothers making soup.

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  15. My mum still makes loads of soups during winter, pea and ham cooked with the ham bones or a pork hock always gets a guernsey. I cooked up 5 chicken carcasses the other day (free from the market) till the stock was gelatinous when cool, pulled the remaining tiny bits of meat off them, then made a roux with a leek from the garden and the stock, added some corn, the remaining bits of chicken and heaps of chopped parsley. I was rewarded with 'Mum this is the best chicken and corn soup I have ever tasted'
    A seriously thrifty soup that got the highest seal of approval. This simple life has some wonderful moments and this one I will treasure.
    Thanks Rhonda for giving me a place to share.
    kxx

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  16. I also grew up with "meat soup" being a constant during winter. I still make it and last time I think I almost came close to the same taste as Mum's soup. However, I have just learnt something from you and that is adding the shin beef when actually making the soup, not when making the stock. It is still quite warm here in Mackay so looking forward to Autumn, and soups.Do you freeze your stock if you make too much?
    thanks for sharing

    Pauline

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    1. I often freeze chicken stock, Pauline, but I tend to use the beef stock fresh.

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  17. Mmmmm lovely Rhonda, I often make similar kinds of soup throughout the winter. As they used to say it will warm the cockles of your heart!

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  18. Hi Rhonda,
    my mother-in-law was a wonderful cook, she could look in the cupboard -- find the most basic of ingredients -- and cook something amazing, your soup recipe reminds of her. It sounds delicious and will be on our dinner table soon. Thank you for sharing and feel free to share any other simple recipes (I'm putting them into a notebook for our family), as I don't have any of these family recipes to give to my children

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  19. This looks wonderful Rhona!
    I remember my grandmother would always cook the bone marrow with any meat stocks she would make, and the flavours are incredible! Bone marrow holds a lot of important nutrients as well, so there is no reason to throw away this before making the most of it.
    It's great how few other ingredients is needed to make sure a flavourful soup, thanks for sharing, and I hope you have a great day :) x

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  20. Nothing like gelatinous, nutritious stock made from scratch. I use a pressure cooker to hasten the process and save on natural gas (my burners are gas). In one hour, poultry bones are totally stripped of meat and marrow and are actually beginning to soften. Beef bones take a little longer. We eat a lot of soup and stew in winter (all of made from scratch using beef, chicken, turkey and occasionally lamb bones). I use a lot of barley in our soups, too - it's a great whole grain filler.

    You are so right, Rhonda - our Grandmas really knew how to cook tasty food that was good for our health.


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  21. Homemade Beef Barley Soup is what we call it here. We usually eat it in the winter time here. I am just starting to make my own beef broth. I always made my own chicken stock but never noticed the big beef bones in the grocery store until a couple of weeks ago. ( a little slow...lol) I have one now that I need to cook and I bottle the broth for cooking with my pressure canner. Your soup looks yummy!

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  22. Rhonda...I've wanted to ask you something for the longest time, and this post prompted me to go ahead and ask!!

    I had surgery for cancer last year and it was quite invasive. It's taken me a long while to recover, and I still am not 100%. I also have lower extremity lymphedema now as many of the lymph nodes in my groin had to be removed.

    I have read so many different things about diet and the healing power of foods, but I find all the information intimidating and overwhelming!! Paleo diet is best...no, anti-inflammatory diet...no, you should follow follow the "Wheat Belly" diet...

    I was raised eating very simple, home cooked meals and that's the way I tend to cook, but here's the thing...I don't single a food out and not eat it. I don't like being told that I can't eat bread or that coffee is bad for me. I also love cheese and real butter.

    Is there a way of eating that you would say is "best"? I think you are so down to earth (!!) and full of common sense, any guidance you could give would be so appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Trish (Virginia, USA)

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    1. I'm sorry to read about your illness, Trish. Usually when you see a lot of articles about a particular diet it's not because it works, it's because someone has just written a book about it and they've got a good publicist. I'm no expert on food and god knows I could loose a few kilos, but I am healthy, with no high blood pressure or cholesterol. Trish, I think your instincts are leading you in the right direction. We eat whole foods here - butter, eggs, a little meat, fish, grains. We eat like most people used to eat 50 years ago. - everything in moderation. And don't forget to drink plain water. I think that's important. Good luck with your recovery. XX

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  23. Thanks Rhonda, This will be on our table in the next week. I just shared it with my daughter who's turning 21 on Saturday as she is lacking in recipes ideas at the moment. Please feel free to share your recipes, as I for one would like to see more of it. your recipes remind me of my childhood and mum never shared many. I'd like to share them with my children.
    Jools

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