Chunky Beef and Bean Soup…

I had a bowl of a well-known chicken soup a few days ago – 2 cans – because I had no home-made soup, and promptly went down with colitis the following morning. Then I stumbled across an article claiming that emulsifiers used in processed foods have been shown to cause colitis, Crohn’s, and similar conditions. At which point I swore off processed foods except in the direst emergency, and as soon as I recovered from the colitis, the anaphylactic reaction caused by Doxycycline that made me look like the victim of a back-street lip implant, and a mysterious rash, I resolved to make a fresh batch of soup. This is it.

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Chunky Beef and Bean Soup – the recipe:-

(Makes 4 litres)

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600g (pack weight) Tesco casserole beef,**** trimmed of excess fat and connective tissue (don’t throw the scraps out yet), and cut into bite-sized pieces. Why Tesco? It’s improved massively of late.

5 fat Echalion shallots, finely chopped

3 Sweet Spear carrots, sliced thinly

Diced swede, about the same quantity (quite small – you want it to be cooked at the same time as the carrots and meat)

A good handful of dehydrated field mushrooms,** chopped, or 2 open-cup field mushrooms, cleaned and chopped

1 desert spoon Shiitake mushroom powder** or 2 fresh Shiitake mushrooms, blitzed in a food processor

15 Deglet Nour dates, chopped (bigger dates, use fewer)

¼  teaspoon Schwartz Black Pepper

1 scant teaspoon celery salt**

2 teaspoons dehydrated thyme leaves,** or the same amount of fresh

2 teaspoons dried basil

3 Kallo organic vegetable stock cubes

1 tablespoon Bovril

1 tablespoon Knorr Touch of Taste Beef

A little olive oil

A little garlic oil

1 litre boiling bean stock if you have it (entirely optional – use water if you don’t have it***)

600g cooked Judion del la Granja beans** (or three cans of Napolina butter beans, rinsed and drained)

Maldon Sea Salt Flakes and Schwartz Black Pepper to adjust the seasoning if needed

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** Indicates home-made. I appreciate that not everyone does this, hence the alternatives.

***Use a little more Touch of Taste to, erm, taste, if using water.

**** I usually brown the meat but I was tardy in defrosting it and it was too cold and wet. It seems not to have suffered from the lack.

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Method:-

Echalion shallots are a.k.a. banana shallots. If you can’t get them, use a strong cooking onion. The only source I know for Sweet Spear carrots is Sainsbury’s. Use ordinary carrots if you can’t get them.

Put a splash of olive oil, and the garlic oil if using, in your pot – I used my 4litre stainless steel casserole – and toss in your meat trimmings – brown over a lowish heat so that the fat melts. They might stick, don’t worry about it, just pry loose and turn occasionally. When they are well browned discard. Any fragments welded to the bottom of the pot will dissolve during cooking.

Add the shallots and soften over a low heat. Add everything else except the bean stock (or water), and the beans. Pour over the boiling stock/water and stir well.

Bring back to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the carrots and swede are soft. The meat will take care of itself.

Once the veg and meat are cooked, put in the beans, add boiling water to 4 litres, stir, and heat through gently.

Taste and adjust the seasoning if you feel it necessary (me, I’m happy with it as is), and leave to cool.

Refrigerate when cold and leave overnight for the flavours to snuggle up to each other in the dark.

And you’re done.

Note:- Adding fruit, like dates, adds a touch of sweetness. This might seem strange if you’re not used to it and my advice would be to stick with it, it adds an extra taste dimension that grows on you. If you really can’t then a little salt will counter it. Omit the dates next time.

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