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Winter Soup

It's easy to create a simple warm winter soup from scratch. Using left-over chicken or beef is a great way to start but even if you have to start with raw meat, making a good soup should be quick to whip up. Use your crock-pot for extra ease; I do recommend if you're using raw meat that you brown it first, this will add more flavor and depth to your soup.

The local farmers market is teeming with great root vegetables that are perfect for soup. Although it can be a meal in itself, I like to add a sandwich or panini along side. Catch my hands-on Soup and Sandwich class on Sat. Jan 23rd at Kitchen Outfitters in Naples for personal instruction and ideas. You can sign up for the class at http://kitchenoutfitters.net/Cooking_Classes.html or call 562.434.2728.

A good soup starts with a good stock or broth. No need to make your own from scratch, here's a way to enhance a pre-made broth. Always use a broth that has good ingredients, read the label. You want to see beef, chicken or vegetables as one of the first ingredients; there are several brands in the market that do not have hydrogenated oils, msg, food coloring, sugar or extra salt. Add the celery, carrots, onion and spices to the broth and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, 30 if you have the time; drain and discard the vegetables. Now you have a good soup base, let's make soup!
If you have left over vegetables from dinner you can use those but we'll add them last as they really just need to be warmed. Here's a recipe for beef barley soup using leftover roast beef.

Beef Barley Soup

3/4 pound of left over roast or
1 pound of stew beef, cut into 1/2" chunks,
2 quarts enhanced broth (beef, vegetable or even chicken will do)
1/4 cup red wine
1 small can whole or diced tomatoes with juice
2 carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 cup green beans, sliced into bite sized pieces
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup uncooked barley
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, minced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1 parsnip, diced and cooked, optional

If using raw stew meat, heat a large sauté pan, add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil. Add meat to the pan and cook on all sides until browned. Add to a Dutch oven along with remaining ingredients except any cooked vegetables you may be using. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the barley is done. Add any cooked vegetables during the last 10 minutes just to warm. Serve with a four cheese grilled panini, optional.

Enhanced Broth

1-2 quarts chicken, beef or vegetable broth
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
4 sprigs Italian parsley
1 clove garlic, crushed

Place all into a stockpot and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drain and discard vegetables. Use immediately or cool and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

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