Hey all, it's September. September... SeptEMBER?! I can hardly believe it, no matter how many times I repeat it. It's been a great summer in Michigan. Beautiful sunny weather and my brand-new mountain bike kept Gabe and I out on the trails during every spare minute. We took a few trips (Vermont, NYC, the beach), and we're trying to sneak one more within the next few weeks.
The only consolation I have as we work our way into September is the fact that it's soup season once again. As many of you know, soup is one of my all-time favorite foods and perfect for those cool September days (like today). Not that I didn't cook and enjoy my share of soup this summer, but there's nothing quite like a steaming bowl of soup as the weather cools down.
I went straight for the thick and hearty as the wind howled outside our window today. Chunky cubes of beef simmered in rich stock, along with delicious vegetables and pearl barley. Served alongside some crusty bread for dipping, it was a perfect way to welcome autumn.
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 lb. chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 c. red wine (pinor noir)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 c. pearl barley (not quick cooking)
2 qts. beef stock
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
Parmesan cheese rind
1/4 c. fresh parsley
Cornstarch + water (optional, for thickening)
Additional grated Parmesan cheese (optional, for garnish)
Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add chuck roast cubes and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. May have to complete in two batches. Remove from stockpot and set aside momentarily.
Deglaze stockpot with red wine, scraping up the brown bits from the stockpot. Add garlic and vegetables and saute until slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Add cooked beef cubes, spices, Worcestershire sauce, barley, beef stock and tomatoes. Mix to incorporate. Bring to a boil, add Parmesan rind and reduce heat to low. Simmer for approximately 90 minutes, or until barley is soft and soup thickens slightly. Discard bay leaves and remaining Parmesan rind piece(s). Thicken with cornstarch mixture, if desired. Add fresh parsley.
Pour into bowls and garnish with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve alongside some crusty bread for dipping.