Sunday, October 25, 2009

Umami soup

  • 8 cups Water
  • 2 pounds Beef Short Ribs
  • Your Preferred Veggies For Stock
  • 1 piece Star Anise
  • 2 whole Cloves
  • 2 whole Bay Leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon Black Peppercorns
  • 1 cup Mushrooms
  • 1 cup Barley
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Spinach, Chopped
  • ¼ cups Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Better Than Bouillon (Beef)

Preparation Instructions

(See notes below.)

The night before, make the beef stock. Bring to a boil the water, beef, peppercorns, bay leaves, cloves, anise, and veggies. Reduce heat and simmer. (Variety is important here. I use scraps of onions, celery, carrots, and a few cloves of garlic. Don’t use potatoes or anything starchy.)

Let it simmer for 2 to 3 hours if you can handle it, then turn off the heat and allow it to cool. Use tongs to remove the beef to a bowl, then strain the broth into the bowl through the finest mesh strainer you have. (You can use a bacon splatter shield on top of the bowl if you have one.)

Cover and refrigerate over night.

The next day, the fat will have separated and the flavors will have settled. Remove half the fat and set aside.

In a soup pan, heat olive oil and saute the onion until translucent.

While that’s going on, toast the barley in another pan using butter and olive oil. Toast over high heat, stirring frequently until it darkens in color and smells nutty.

To the onion, add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Then add stock, barley, mushrooms and Better Than Bouillion to the pan. (Go easy on the Better Than Bouillon; we will be adding soy sauce as well later.) It’s better that the broth taste thin at this point. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 45 minutes. Add spinach, soy sauce, and cook for 5 minutes.


I used short ribs to make the stock because they’re fatty and that’s generally delicious for stock. I didn’t love the meat in the soup though, so I’ll be tossing that in the crockpot for something else.

Don’t not toast the barley. It’s a pain but totally worth it, and intrinsic to the taste of the soup.

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