Monday, January 19, 2015

Dirt to Table Experiences: Old-Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup

A walk through my winter garden beds reveal damaged leaves from late evenings of below freezing temperatures, soggy root systems caused by the deluge of rain that quickly followed.  A bed of stunning bok choy was given up as a sacrifice to save my large head cabbages from pesky garden pests.  Mother Nature was not kind this season.  I have put my hands up and surrendered to her wrath.  As a tease to call me to the spring garden she left a few gems of cabbage, broccoli and carrots untouched in the garden.

One of the most amazing dishes to create from seasonally available vegetables is a great pot of soup, and nothing beats a good old-fashioned vegetable beef soup.  This soup is loaded with colorful vegetables and provides comfort on a cold night, or any occasion is perfect.

The recipe below is delicious, hearty and dependable.  Don't hesitate to alter the vegetables you use in this recipe, change it up for what is locally available or in season.



Vegetable Beef Soup
Makes 6 hearty servings



Ingredients:
1 lb. ground chuck
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
3 cups chopped green cabbage
4-5 medium carrots sliced (thick cut) 
1 yellow or red bell pepper, diced
1 cup cut green beans frozen or fresh
2 cups fresh broccoli florets
2 teaspoons, each dried oregano, basil and thyme
2 cups peeled and diced russet potatoes
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 cups low-sodium beef broth
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:
In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat, add beef, brown, and transfer cooked hamburger to a bowl and set aside.

Add onions and garlic to the Dutch oven and sweat over medium heat until softened, 5 minutes.  Stir in cabbage, carrots, bell pepper, celery, basil, thyme and oregano. Partially cover and cook until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.

Stir in broth, tomatoes, broccoli florets, green beans and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer partially covered until potatoes are tender, 15 minutes.

Serve now or later. You can even freeze it.

Enjoy!







Friday, January 2, 2015

Savoring the Season: Preserved Meyer Lemons

It's That Time of Year!  If you have been following my blog you already understand the excitement when the Meyer Lemons on my backyard tree are ready to harvest.

Meyer lemons are the sweethearts of the citrus kingdom.  A mature tree can produce hundreds of lemons in one season. What do you do with a few hundred lemons?  You share, bake, freeze, make cocktails and finally, you preserve them.

Preserving Meyer Lemons (or any lemon variety) is simple. There are only two ingredients Lemons and Salt. The only hard part is waiting 4 weeks for them to be ready to use.  Preserved lemons are excellent in soups, stews and salads. Your preserved lemons will last up to a year in your refrigerator once they are ready to use.


Preserved Meyer Lemons
Makes 1 Quart
Recipe Adapted from Fine Cooking


Ingredients:
6-8 large organic Meyer lemons (Any variety of lemons will work)
1/2 cup kosher salt

Directions:
Sterlize a quart size canning jar  in boiling water or run it through the dishwasher to sterilize.
Cut 6 of the lemons lengthwise into 6 wedges each and remove the seeds.  Put about 2 Tbs. of salt in the jar and put 6 wedges on top.  Press down on the wedges with a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon to partially juice and compact them.  Repeat in layers with remaining lemon wedges and salt.  Squeeze enough juice from the remaining lemons to cover the lemons in the jar.  Close the jar with the lid.

Keep at room temperature for 4 weeks, inverting the jar about once a day to mix the salt and juice, and adding more fresh lemon juice as necessary to keep lemons covered.  After 4 weeks, they're ready to use.  Rinse the lemons throughly before using.  The peel and flesh are both edible.  Store refrigerated for up to a year.

Enjoy!