It's September and that means it's time to start cooking soup. Beef Barley Vegetable Soup is one of my very favorites. It's a very healthy meal: just beef, veggies and whole grain barley. The foundation of great soup is a great stock. Greatness for me means a rich, deep beef stock that coats the tongue with an awesome, savory flavor. The stock should be a meal in itself.
I've tried making soup with store-bought stock and I've tried making soup with stock from scratch. While the latter came closest, it still did not do it for me. I lusted for something bigger...something that knocked it out of the park. And then I tried an experiment just for kicks: I made beef stock from scratch by replacing water with store-bought beef stock. Bingo! Beef stock made with beef stock. There was that incredibly rich beef flavor I was looking for. Excessive...yes. But let us not forget that the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
I firmly believe you need the very best ingredients for a great end result. Not all store-bought beef stock is equal. I recommend you use Rachael Ray Stock-In-A-Box for the beef stock. It's rich, thick and tastes like it was made from steak. Really, good steak.
So let's get started with how to make double rich beef stock and in a few days I will post my recipe for Beef Barley Vegetable Soup.
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 pounds of beef shanks
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup red wine
2 quarts of store-bought beef stock (Rachael Ray preferred)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to large bowl.
- Brown meat and bones on all sides in 3 or 4 batches, about 5 minutes per batch, adding remaining oil to pot as necessary; do not overcrowd pot. Transfer browned meat and bones to bowl with onion.
- Add wine to empty pot; cook, scraping up browned bits with wooden spoon, until wine is reduced to about 3 tablespoons, about 2 minutes. Return browned beef and onion to pot, reduce heat to low, cover, and sweat until meat releases juices, about 20 minutes.
- Increase heat to high, add beef stock, salt, and bay leaves; bring to boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer slowly until meat is tender and stock is flavorful, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Strain, discard onion and bay leaves. Remove meat from bone and discard bones. Cut meat into 3/4" cubes and reserve.
- Refrigerate stock in an airtight container.
- Before using, defat stock (after stock has been refrigerated, the fat hardens on the surface and is very easy to remove with a spoon).