N'Awlins Vegetable Beef Soup (Like Grandma Usta Make)

Practically every kind of produce you can pick up from a roadside stand, a tender piece of shredded boneless chuck roast, a rich beef stock, and just the right touch of Crescent City back-a-town seasonings is all it takes to make this age old favorite vegetable beef soup.

3 lbs. boneless chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2' cubes
1 large onion, sliced and chopped
4 ribs celery, sliced, strings removed
6 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup seasoned flour (for dredging)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup wine (sherry, port or Marsala)
3 tablespoons beef soup base or bouillon
3/4 gallon beef stock
2 whole bay leaves
1 can tomato sauce, 16-ounce size
2 tablespoons fresh basil (optional)
3 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
6 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2' rounds
2 cups green cabbage, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cups sliced green beans
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 cup whole snow peas
1 small yellow squash, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced
2 small ears of corn, chunked
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1-1/2 cups small pasta (acini pepe, alphabets, etc)
1/3 cup flour or cornstarch for thickening
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Multigrain crackers and butter at service

First, trim off all the excess fat from the boneless beef chuck roast and cut the roast into individual pieces. Incidentally, by choosing a pot roast like this and slicing the cubes yourself, you will save money over buying pre-cut stew beef (which actually for the most part is tough, chewy scraps.)

Now, slice the onions and cut the celery into small chunks (but I suggest you de-string the celery for a more delicate taste). Oh if you think it's a sin to make homemade soup without using turnips, then this is the time you should peel and dice them too. It's at this point when you also mince your garlic.

Next you want to dredge the beef pieces in the seasoned flour and immediately saute them in a heavy stock pot in the olive oil until they uniformly brown, adding the garlic during the last few minutes of browning. Now remove the beef chunks from the pot and set them aside for a while. If you've done the saute correctly, you will notice that you end up with some browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Pour the wine over the bits, scrape them loose, and technically 'de-glaze' the pan. This step builds a deep richness in the soup don't skip this part by washing out the pot! .At this point you're ready to stir in the beef soup base or bouillion, drop in the bay leaves, and stir in the tomato sauce.

Hint: If you like your soup to be a tad bit 'picky,' I would also stir in a 10-ounce can of Rotel tomatoes with chilies. Then, pour in all the beef stock and bring the contents of the pot to a boil.

This is the stage where all the remaining ingredients begin being added to make soup. One ingredient at a time, add your basil, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, green beans, red beans, snow peas, squash, zucchini, corn, and baby spinach. This is also the time that you return the browned beef to the pot. Now after the soup returns to a gentle boil, immediately reduce the fire to low. Here's a chef's trick: The soup may be transferred to a Crock Pot at this time and finished off there.

Should, however, you decide to continue cooking the soup atop the stove, simmer everything together for about 2 hours or two or until all of the veggies are wilted and the beef chunks are 'fall apart tender.'

Take careful note here during the final 40 minutes of cooking, drop in the raw pasta, stir it into the soup thoroughly, and simmer everything until it's time to eat.

If you decide to thicken the soup slightly (remember, this is not a stew, so you don't want to turn the soup into gravy!), you can do it during the last half-hour of cooking. Simply sprinkle in and stir in a tablespoon or two of flour or cornstarch. My personal preference, though, is to thicken the pot with a couple of spoonfuls of potato flakes. The flakes, when they soften and blend into the stock, intensify the depth and flavor of the soup. All that's left is to remove the bay leaves and adjust the salt and black pepper amounts to taste.

Old fashioned, hearty, vegetable beef soup makes a simply, tasty, and nutritious dish on a cold New Orleans day! Oh and like red beans, jambalaya, and gumbo, this recipe is even better the next day!


Editor's Note:

The New Orleans term 'picky' means slightly on the peppery side.

The best way to season the dredging flour is to mix about 3 tablespoons of Frank Davis Beef Seasoning into it.

As the soup simmers, add more stock or water if needed.

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