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vegetable beef
Beef Vegetable Soup

Cheese Popovers

Menu Plan for the week of Jan. 25, 2013:  Sunday's Recipes

Beef Vegetable Soup
Cheese Popovers

Cooking time:  60 minutes for menu  longer if making stock      Cooking schedule: see below for instructions

     This is the soup I grew up with. My mother made it several times each winter. If you have time and the inclination to make the stock the method follows the soup. Make it a day ahead so you can chill it and remove the fat.  Use the meat from making the stock and eliminate the lean beef called for in the soup recipe. 

Beef Vegetable Soup                                       Preparation and cooking time:   60 minutes
    This could also be called 'root vegetable soup'.  I know some people are leery of rutabagas, but it really is a key.  It adds a sweet undertone that's essential to this winter soup. This will make enough for 2 meals.... and maybe a bit for the freezer.

16oz (500gr) lean beef - for stew or stir-frying or 2 cups of shredded beef, trimmed, from the stock beef
4 carrots
2 onions
4 ribs celery
1 medium rutabaga
2 potatoes
1/2 of a medium head of cabbage, about 3 cups
1/2 cup small pasta or egg noodles
8 - 10 cups beef stock

Bring the stock to a boil over medium high heat.  Chop the onion and celery.  Add to the soup.  Peel the rutabaga (use a vegetable peeler) and cut into small bite-size pieces. Add to soup. Peel the carrots, cut in half lengthwise, then slice into 1/8" (.3cm) half circles. Add to soup.  Cut the potatoes roughly the same size as the other vegetables, add to the soup.  (I scrub, but don't peel).   To cut cabbage, cut off a large slice next to the core. You'll want about 3 cups, so you may need another slice off the other side. Chop cabbage and add to pot.  Wrap and refrigerate the rest.  When all of the vegetables are in bring it back to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes.  Add pasta and simmer 15 minutes longer.
While the soup cooks, cut the beef into bite-size pieces and sauté in a nonstick pan until browned.  Add the beef to the soup. The soup is done when all vegetables are tender.  Serve.

Beef Stock                                                              Time: at least 2 hours, 4 - 6 is better, plus chilling time

2 - 3 pounds beef short ribs or soup meat
1 onion, quartered
1 carrot, cut into large chunks
2 ribs celery - or the tops from a bunch of celery, cut into large chunks
1 bouquet Garni
3 bay leaves
1 tbs olive oil

Heat oil in large pot. Brown the beef very well on all sides over medium high heat, about 20 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients and enough water to just cover the meat, or 10 cups, whichever is more. Cover and simmer over low heat for several hours.  Remove meat and chill until needed.  Strain soup and chill at least 4 hours - this allows the fat to congeal on the surface for easy removal.   Once fat is removed, stock can be boiled to reduce and increase strength.
Note: Long simmering time is what breaks down the collagen in the meat, giving body to the stock.

Cheese Popovers                                                      Preparation and cooking time: 45 minutes
     Popovers are so easy, and so good hot from the oven, slathered in some sweet butter, of course.  The secret is simple: whisk the eggs, then lightly whisk in the milk and flour; a few lumps are okay, you don't want to deflate the eggs.

1 cup flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbs shredded cheese, Cheddar, Gruyère, Parmesan
butter - for pan

Butter muffin pan - even if it is nonstick, it's easier.  Lightly beat eggs with fork or hand whisk.  Add flour, milk, salt and whisk lightly - do not try to get out all of the lumps - doing this would cause over beating and tough popovers.  Ladle half the batter into muffin pan.  Divide the cheese evenly and sprinkle over batter.  Ladle the rest of the batter on top.  Cups should be 1/2 - 2/3 full.  Put into preheated 450F (230C) oven for 25 minutes.  Turn temperature down to 350F (175C) and continue baking 15 minutes longer, until nicely browned.  Remove and serve.

Cooking Schedule: 60 minutes for menu longer if making stock
Assemble all ingredients and utensils
Utensils: measuring cups, spoons, knives,
large pot with lid, skillet, medium bowl, ladle,
muffin pan

Day before if making stock:
Brown the beef
Cut the vegetables
Add water, vegetables to beef, cover, simmer
When done: remove meat, refrigerate
Strain stock, refrigerate.... Remove fat before using
Turn oven on, 450F (230C)
Heat stock to boiling over medium high heat
Butter muffin pan
Chop onion, add to soup
Chop celery, add to soup
Peel, slice rutabaga, add to soup

Peel, slice carrots, add to soup
Shred cheese
Whisk eggs
Add flour, milk, salt, whisk
Ladle 1/2 batter into cups, add cheese, remaining batter
Bake popovers
Slice potatoes, add to soup
Chop cabbage, add to soup
Cover, simmer while you tend the beef
If raw:
Cut, sauté, add to soup
If from the stock:
Cut or shred, add to soup
Cover, simmer
        Pause while it all cooks
Add pasta to soup
Turn oven down for popovers when needed
        Wait for stuff to finish
Remove popovers, ladle soup into bowls, serve

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