Monday, October 27, 2014

Back to the fire: Italian beef soup

We spent a day traversing parts of Wisconsin for our recent anniversary, and when we stopped for lunch, I ordered an Italian beef soup to go with the de rigeur fried cheese curds.

Tangy, beefy, with a hint of tomato, and, I believe, a bit of hominy, it was excellent. It was so good, we decided that would be our first fire soup of the season.

If this is your first time here, you should know we cook a ton of soup over a fire with a tripod, chain and Dutch oven. If you check the recipe index, you'll find a rather lengthy list of soups. A bit unorthodox, sure, but the sheer flavor of soup over the fire is amazing.

So no wonder we are back at it, I suppose.

We got a wonderful beef chuck roast at the butcher's, and I used about half for this, with a plan to use the other half in the crockpot for regular Italian beef.

The recipe I started with came from Cooking Light. Now, I knew I wanted to add hominy, and probably a bit of celery, so already the ingredient list became longer. I stifled the urge to put in kale — constant battle — but decided to add a bit of beer along with the red wine.

We actually had most of the ingredients on hand, which is a shocker, so the only other thing I added was Worcestershire.

All you need:

1/2 onion, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 lbs. boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into cubes
Salt and pepper
1/2 c. red wine
3 1/2 lbs. chopped tomatoes
2 c. beef broth (I use Better Than Boullion) plus 2 additional cups
1 c. beer
1 t. oregano
1 t. thyme, ground
1 bay leaf
1 8-oz. package baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 T. basil, or 2 T. fresh basil
1 t. parsley
1 can hominy, undrained
Dash worcestershire

All you need to do:

Prepare fire and put tripod in place.

Heat a saucepan to medium and add 2 T. olive oil. Trim and cut beef into cubes, then toss with flour, salt and pepper. Brown lightly on all sides, and put into Dutch oven.

Chop and add vegetables, then add to pan. Saute five to ten minutes, then remove to Dutch oven.

Deglaze pan with red wine, scraping bits with a wooden spoon. Add to Dutch oven.

Add remaining liquids except additional 2 cups beef broth,  and spices to Dutch oven.

Place over fire, and cook for about 40 minutes, pausing to stir every 15 minutes, and add more broth if necessary.

If cooking on the stove:

Follow above directions, eliminating additional beef broth, and put in oven-appropriate* Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes, checking vegetables as needed.

The additional liquid may seem excessive, but when cooking over fire, may become necessary, especially if you get an errant log determined to engulf the oven in flames. It happens.

Serve with fresh beer bread or biscuits. Enjoy!

*I should mention that I use an enameled Dutch oven on the stove, while I use a cast iron Dutch oven with a handle over the fire. Just an fyi in case you don't want to sacrifice your enameled version!

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