We're making the most of the end of winter here. Our first day of spring is 1 September, already the days are warming up but the nights are still cold. Soon they'll even out and we'll be looking for cool drinks and throwing open the windows. Tonight I wanted to make a nourishing soup, that didn't cost too much, and would serve us well for a few nights. We're going out to Bell again on Saturday so this soup will be sitting in the fridge awaiting our return. A soup like this is the perfect warming meal to quickly heat up after a full day's work.
It's a beef and vegetable soup with herb meatballs. It probably cost about ten dollars to make but it will feed the two of us until at least Saturday, with a two litre container in the freezer for a couple of meals next week. It's certainly economical, I hope it tastes as good as it looks. I will have tasted it before I post this blog so I'll give you my honest appraisal. UPDATE: Hanno said: "this is a very good soup", I loved it - it's got a good herb and vegetable taste and is not overpowered by the meat.
Start with a good beef stock that you can make with beef bones. I had some good marrow bones in the freezer so I used them. As they slowly simmer in their broth, the marrow oozes out and dissolves into the broth. It's one of the reasons it tastes so good and is so nourishing. I added the bones to a large stockpot of water with salt and pepper, half a teaspoon of paprika, onions, bay leaf and one cup of washed barley. That needs to come up to the boil and then to slowly simmer for about two hours. Discard the bay leaf and bones and if you have chooks, give them to the chooks. They'll strip them bare and get a good boost of protein in the process. Make sure there are no pieces of fat or gristle floating in your soup.
Now choose your vegetables. If you're growing your own, pick them fresh and either slice, dice or grate whatever you have on hand. If you are cleaning out your fridge, slice, dice or grate whatever you want to use up. If you're buying vegetables especially for this soup, buy root vegetables - these are the traditional vegetables for winter soups.
In our soup I've included onions, celery, swede (rutabaga), turnip, parsley, carrots and a small amount of garlic. I usually would have included parsnips but they're too expensive at the moment so they missed the boat. All the vegetables are prepared and sliced, then added to the soup. Cook the vegetables while you prepare the meatballs.
Next I add some meatballs. The inclusion of the meatballs gives the meat eaters their hit of protein while being a part of a meal that is mainly vegetables, barley and stock. If you have a family who don't like vegetable soup, or who say "where's the meat?" this version of an old favourite might get them interested. To make the meatballs, finely chop one onion and some parsley, blitz two slices of stale bread to make breadcrumbs, add two eggs, salt and pepper and 500grams/ one pound of minced beef. With clean hands, mix all this together well and form into balls the size of a walnut. They will cook in about ten minutes so when the vegetables are almost cooked, turn down the heat, add the meatballs and let the soup slowly cook for about 15 - 20 minutes. When it's all cooked, taste for seasoning, you'll probably have to add more salt and pepper.
It certainly is nutritious and it will blend into your meal rotation as one of those cheaper meals that you can stretch out for days, or use for lunch the following day. I hope you enjoy it.
Just a little heads up for people living on the Sunshine Coast. We have our car serviced at the local Landsborough Mechanical. Hanno, who is a former mechanic himself, highly recommends this fellow who used to work in one of the big dealerships on the coast but bought his own smaller workshop here several years ago. His prices are excellent, he's honest and reliable an his customer service is better than most. He's definitely worth a try. The phone number is 5494 1092.
BTW, he doesn't know I'm writing this and has not asked for any favours. I doubt he even knows I have a blog.
Hanno and I will be out at Bell for a workshop this Saturday from 9.30am till 3.00 pm. There are a couple of spots left if you want to come out for a great day in the country and see how to make buttermilk scones, yoghurt scones, five minute bread and olive oil soap. We'd love to meet you. The cost is $50 which includes the workshop, a delicious homemade morning tea and lunch. Phone 07 4663 1184 to book a place.