Sunday, May 6, 2012

Guest Post: Randy's Beet & Braised Beef Soup

Hi Readers - my friend Randy wanted to share a delicious recipe and some photos of a soup party they recently attended. She and her husband Mike are great friends and wonderful cooks so I am very excited to share this with you. If we are lucky we might even get another guest post from her on all the New Orleans eats they tried when on vacation to Jazz Fest!

now Randy will take it away.....

I consider myself blessed to have such an amazing group of friends, and a few of them happen to be just as obsessed with good food as I am. A few weeks ago, my friend Krissy had the awesome idea of hosting a soup party, and invited us all to bring our own brand for a potluck extravaganza.  The results were better than expected, and we all had a fantastic time preparing and sharing our soup-y goodness. I spent a few days getting ready for this event.  I searched the web and several cookbooks for a delicious-sounding recipe, and settled on one from for Beet and Braised Beef Soup. This recipe calls for beef short ribs, lima beans, and a colorful medley of fresh vegetables and herbs.

I found some beautifully marbled short ribs at my local grocery store, and knew I was heading in the right direction!  Gathering the entire assortment of produce required a trip to a specialty market for some of the harder-to-find (and probably out-of-season) items.  Once I had everything required, I returned home to pre-season the meat and soak the dried lima beans overnight.The next evening, my husband and I started chopping up a storm.  We were quite pleased with the beautiful mise en place sprawling across our counter tops. 

 With all of the produce prepared, Mike began browning the meat in batches (to avoid overcrowding the pan and unintentionally steaming the beef).  After he got a nice sear on all of the short ribs, he used the garlic and onions to deglaze the sh*t outta that pan!  The fragrant aromatics started to fill the kitchen with incredible smells, and my anticipation for the impending soup fiesta grew.

When the onions were a deep golden brown, the beef was added back into the stock pot, covered with water, and left to simmer for about an hour.  At this point, the recipe instructs you to add the lima beans to the pot.  We reserved a small amount of meat + braising liquid for two of our friends who are trying the Paleo diet, and omitted the beans from their batch.  We let the soup continue to cook for another 30 minutes, and then added most of the vegetables (carrots, beets, parsnips, celery root, cabbage and scallions), and a little more water.  The house started to smell even more amazing than it had previously.

After another 45 minutes, the vegetables were fully cooked through.  I think if I make this recipe again, I'll shorten the cooking time for this step, as I prefer my vegetables to have just a little more bite.  The beef, however, was literally falling off of the bone.  I pulled the short ribs out of the pot, easily shredded the meat and returned it back into the pot.  We added red wine vinegar, about half of the dill, salt & pepper, mixed everything together, and moved the soup off of the heat to let it cool.  As it sat overnight, the color from the beets darkened the broth, and resulted in a beautiful deep red soup.

The next day, we arrived at Krissy's house with our two batches of soup and high expectations.  We also brought a green salad and a loaf of hearty artisan bread, and another couple brought fresh baguettes to share.  In total, there were six kinds of soup, an endless supply of wine and beer, two zombie action figures, one chocolate lab, and lots of hungry people!

I'm not shy, so I dug into the hostess' Gazpacho right away.  Others soon followed, and within a few minutes we were all up to our eyeballs in amazing soup!  A few latecomers arrived after we all finished, but luckily we had saved just enough soup for them to taste test as well.  Our friend, Matt, told us he was bringing Ramen, and we all thought he was joking until he showed up around 9:00pm and started tossing packets of the Chicken Flavored noodles at everyone :)  All in all it was a fantastic gathering of friends and food!

All six soups were a hit... everyone seemed to have their own favorite.  Mine was the Curried Cauliflower and Bacon Bisque - whipped up by my friend Jeanette, who didn't follow any particular recipe - just tossed some ingredients in a pot and had faith that it would turn out great.  I happen to think this method produces some of the most delicious creations.

Some of us brought Tupperware containers with us so we could take home leftovers of our favorites - but there wasn't much left to take!  Everyone left that night with full bellies and happy faces.  The Soup Party was such a success, we're going to have a hard time topping it - but I can't wait to try.  Suggestions for our next food event are welcomed!!

Thanks for reading, and happy eating!
By: Randy Kramer Pierce