We are still in the dead of the winter, are we? Well, what could be better than a steaming bowl of soup for Super Bowl Sunday. I'm talking about the Bruinebonen Soep that I featured a while back here, still a fave in the Land of Lorp.
My Oma was an old-fashioned housewife. She made a living being a seamstress and baking cakes and snacks to be sold at movie theatres -- anything a housewife would do to help out with family expenses. But far from being a passive, dutiful wife, Oma was a charming, intelligent, and quick-witted woman of her own. And in the domestic area, she is one who never regarded them as chores and thoroughly enjoyed what she does. She taught me how to sew, knit, crochet, cross-stitch, cook, or other domestic skills that she did so well, and although I didn't share her talents and skills, I do share her enjoyment in all that.
Enough bragging about one's own Oma, let's get down to the chow! My grandmother's cooking is largely passed down without any specific measurements or recipes (except for cake or baked goods). I've adapted to my modern kitchen and varietal that are available in regular grocery store.
For a pot of soup, you will need:
1 small onion
1 celery stick
1 medium carrot
1 lb stew beef/shoulder meat, cubed
About 1.5 - 2 cups of cooked red kidney beans (see bean note below)
1 leek chopped
2 medium carrot, cubed
2 fresh tomato peeled (if desired), and chopped -- if tomato is not in season, use 2 T of tomato paste
1 bouillon cube (see seasoning note below)
salt & pepper to taste
parsley or green onion as garnish.
A note about bean:
My grandmother would cook her soup using dried beans that she soaked the night before and boiled in the soaking water to the point that the beans started to burst, just before the soup was made. She never rinsed the bean after soaking nor threw the soaking liquid. She'd add more water if the beans seemed to soak almost all of the liquid. I don't know if this is the proper way of using dried beans, but I found that cooking the soup with the bean's soaking liquid add a richer flavor to the soup that can't be replicated with using canned beans. In a jiff, canned beans can be used, but I always rinse them from the goo that comes with it.
A note about seasoning:
Oma is typical of her generation: post World-War II where convenient food were first introduced and readily available. She would put bouillon cube on pretty much everything. No shame in that, I suppose, but if you'd rather skip, I found that a splash of soy sauce/Worcestershire sauce will give that umami taste/depth that the soup may be lacking. Another seasoning that she would put is a heaping teaspoon of sugar, to balance the savory beef and to bring out the tangy taste of the tomato.
How to prepare:
First, make the beef broth: roughly chop the onion, celery, carrot. These will be the sacrificial vegetables to flavor our broth with. Oma would also include trimmings of other vegetables she happened to cook that day, to add to the flavor. She would use a pressure cooker, but since I don't have it, I usually use slow cooker. Add enough water to cover everything to about an inch, then simmer until beef is tender. You can skim the foam while cooking, I know she would but I'm too lazy to do this.
When the beef is meltingly tender, take the pieces out and set aside. Toss the now-limp vegetables out (Oma would puree this with some potato for her own version of Hutspot) and save the broth.
Next, sautee the leek and the carrot until fragrant. Tip in the tomato, cook until it renders the liquid (skip if not using fresh tomato). Then add the beef pieces, saved broth, and cooked beans (along with its soaking liquid). Add enough water if you feel like it, perhaps another 3-4 cups or so. Bring everything to a boil, simmer for 15-20 minutes or so or until carrots are done. Season to taste (and this is when you'll add your tomato paste if not using fresh tomatoes), and serve.
Traditionally, the soup is pureed before the addition of the beef, but my grandma would always serve it chunky. Besides, if you cook the beans to the bursting point, they will disintegrate somewhat in the pot, making it rather sludgy.
I hope you enjoy this recipe. Please share with me your favorite comfort food.