BEEF AND BARLEY SOUP


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I found this boomerang at an estate sale.  This is not just any boomerang, it is a piece of hand-painted aboriginal art:

One definition of boomerang offered by Urban Dictionary is a “frisbee for a kid with no friends.”  I had a boomerang once, but forgot how to throw it — then it came back to me (groan).  Fortunately, this boomerang came with directions:

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Too much math for me

The boomerang is loosely based on the concept that what goes around comes around (no kidding, right?).  This is also the concept on which leftovers are based, and which has inspired this recipe for Beef and Barley Soup.

Recently, the New York Times ran an article about a dish known as Mississippi Roast “one of the most popular recipes on the web.”  The recipe calls for a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Mix and a packet of McCormick Au Jus Gravy Mix, which you sprinkle over the chuck roast you have placed in your slow cooker, and top with a stick of butter and a few peperoncini.

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Cook on low for 8 hours, and voila:

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The roast was just fine, and could not have been easier, but the packets are a deal-breaker for a lot of folks — you know, chemicals, sodium, etc. — the whole “factory-to-table” thing.  I’d have to admit that I prefer my own recipe for pot roast, with seared meat, tomato paste, red wine, herbs, and veggies.  Anyway, we had a lot of leftovers, and there’s only so many nights in a row you can eat the same meal (our limit being two), so I had to repurpose the leftover roast.  Beef and Barley Soup has become one of our favorite hearty soups.  Whenever we have a roast or steak, we always make sure to save a piece in order to make the soup, so having leftover Mississippi Roast was actually something we were quite happy about.

BEEF AND BARLEY SOUP
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Recipe type: Soup
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 cup chopped leftover beef (roast beef, pot roast, etc.)
  • ½ cup pearled barley
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced or quartered
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, carrots, and celery, and saute until vegetables are tender and onion is translucent. Add beef, barley, broth, water, mushrooms, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for approximately 1 hour, until barley is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. If necessary, thin soup with additional beef broth.

 

Soup’s on!

boomerang

ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP

I found this lace collar made by Teena Brown at an estate sale, in a pile of vintage linens:

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My research didn’t turn up anything about Teena Brown, but I did find several other styles of lace collars made by the company on ebay and etsy.

There doesn’t appear to be much demand for this frillery today.  Nevertheless, I did find one willing wearer.  When our puppy Maisy was spayed a few months ago, her incision took forever to heal, and she had to wear the dreaded Elizabethan collar of shame to keep her from licking the wound.  It turned out she didn’t mind wearing it — we think she enjoyed the attention:

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What’s your story, morning glory?

So naturally, I asked her to model the fancy lace collar.

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What’s up, buttercup?

I think I’ve discovered a new market for these vintage collars!

Happily, lace still rules at weddings, and last weekend we saw a display of beautiful lace.  It was my husband’s niece’s wedding — very exciting, especially seeing as she is the first grandchild (or cousin, as my kids see it) on either side to get married.  Her lace gown was stunning:

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And her lacy wedding cake was beautiful:

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Inspired by the lace collar and the beautiful lace gown, I made Italian Wedding Soup, which is really great on the cold nights we’ve been having lately.  If you’re not going to serve the whole pot in one sitting, I suggest not adding the pasta to the pot.  Instead, add pasta to individual soup bowls just before serving to help keep it from getting mushy.

ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP
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Recipe type: Soup
Author:
Ingredients
  • For the meatballs:
  • ½ pound ground veal
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup plain bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 medium head escarole, chopped
  • ½ cup small pasta, uncooked
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. For the meatballs: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the veal, beef, egg, bread crumbs, parsley, grated cheese, and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Form into 1-inch meatballs. Place on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 30 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove meatballs to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions , drain, and set aside.
  2. For the soup: Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrot and saute until onion is golden. Add the garlic and saute one minute more. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the escarole, and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Add the meatballs and simmer for a few minutes more, until meatballs are heated through. Just before serving, stir in the pasta. Sprinkle with additional grated cheese, if desired.

IMG_3520These pasta circles are a fun shape

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The meatballs brown nicely in the oven, no frying necessary

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Escarole and its many shades of green

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A satisfying soup, worthy of a special occasion