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Steak with Friends
by Rick Tramonto with Mary Goodbody
This soup needs long, slow cooking to ensure that the beef becomes tender. During the hours the soup simmers on the stove, the house fills up with such rich, inviting aromas that anyone who walks in the door feels immediately welcome. I often make this a day or two ahead of time and then heat it up and settle back to enjoy the experience. The robust, full-bodied soup belongs in a steakhouse, and so as far as I am concerned belongs at home, too—particularly on a brisk fall or winter weekend, accompanied by a big glass of red and some crusty bread.
Serves 4 to 6
• 1 pound boneless beef short ribs, cut into 1-inch cubes
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 yellow onion, diced
• 2 carrots, peeled and diced
• 2 ribs celery, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 6 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
• 1/3 cup pearl barley
• 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
• 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 4 to 6 teaspoons sour cream
Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy-bottomed stockpot over high heat. When hot, add the olive oil. Cook the meat in the oil, turning with a wooden spoon, until browned on all sides. Do this in batches so that you don't crowd the pot and the pot does not lose too much heat from trying to cook too much at one time. Lift the meat from the pot as it is browned and set aside on a plate.
Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot and cook over low heat, stirring, for about 15 minutes, or until softened.
Return the beef and any accumulated juices on the plate to the pot. Add the stock, cover, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Partially cover and simmer the soup for 2½ to 3 hours, until the meat is extremely tender. Adjust the heat up or down to maintain the simmer.
Add the barley and thyme and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour longer, or until the barley is tender. Adjust the heat up or down to maintain the simmer
Meanwhile, season the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat and melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Saute the mushrooms just until golden brown.
Add the mushrooms to the soup and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in 1½ tablespoons of the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the soup cool a little Transfer to the refrigerator and chill until cold, at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours This soup is best made a day ahead of time
To serve, reheat the soup over medium heat If the barley has absorbed too much of the broth, add more broth or water Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each serving with sour cream and the remaining parsley.
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