Thursday, November 8, 2012

Simple Beef Broth Soup

Finally actually sitting down and writing my blog post about the food on my European vacation caused me to miss out on the delicious meals I had...during my two days in Belgium.

My parents and I ate really well while staying with our friends. The first night's dinner started with a homemade thinly sliced salmon (similar to smoked salmon minus the actual smoking) and was followed by veal saltimbocca. Sadly, this was the night that it as determined that I had a chemical burn in my eye, and after I ate about three bites of the salmon, I finally determined that the best thing for me to do was to cry myself to sleep...which, by the way, was probably the best idea I had for a large portion of the trip. However, my parents told me allllllllll about the saltimbocca and I got the recipe from our hosts--the unique part was how thinly sliced the veal was. The entire saltimbocca had five layers of veal but was only about 3/4 of an inch thick. Pretttttttty impressive if you ask me!

The next day we had a delicious European brunch with fruit, cheese, cured meats and bread. It was perfect for me, as I barely ate anything the night before, so I definitely chowed down. And, as many of you know, Europeans eat larger breakfasts than Americans, smaller lunches and then a similar size dinner. 

I was absolutely captivated by the soup that we had for lunch. It was wonderfully basic, with lovely but minimal ingredients, and served with bread and butter. This recipe below is my take on the soup that was little more than a broth. My take may have been a bit more brutish (as our lovely host has spectacular knife skills and the pieces of veggies were exactly the size of every "a" you are reading right now) and I did add a bit, but the basic feeling of the dish--a delightfully light beef broth--remains.

2 cartons of beef broth
8 carrots
8 stalks of celery
One small onion
10 sage leaves
Dried parsley
Salt & pepper
Parmesan cheese

Chop the carrots, celery and small onion into very very fine pieces. Alternatively, you can simply purchase a "mirepoix" mix at your grocery store and dice it into even smaller pieces. Pour into a big soup pot.

Pour the beef broth over your vegetables. Add your sage leaves, about a teaspoon of dried parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Uncovered, bring the soup to a rolling boil. Once boiling, lower the temperature to simmer and cook, covered, for about an hour.

If you are eating the soup immediately, after an hour, add your pastini (pastini is an extremely small pasta often used in soups--it is literally about 1/4 of a pencil's eraser). Cook until al dente. Toss in some parmesan cheese, to taste, and serve.

If you are saving this for later (like I was), remove the soup from the stove and allow to cool. Place into your containers and put in fridge/freezer. When ready to eat, bring soup back to hot temperature and add the pastini in. The pastini can get very very overcooked if put in the soup that is then reheated, so I strongly advise you to add the pastini as you serve. It only adds about 5 minutes to your cook time and can even be done in the microwave.


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