One evening, a couple of months ago, I made a terrible beef stew. I mean REALLY terrible. We tried for two days to add stuff to it, to improve it, but finally we just threw it away. During this whole ordeal, my darling husband finally told me that although he generally loves my cooking, my soups and stews leave a bit to be desired. He said that they lack flavor. This is constructive criticism at it's best.
I went to one of my favorite on line communities, Reddit, to ask for help on improving this recipe, and I was given so many great ideas! Here is my new, and (hopefully) improved version of this soup...
2 lbs of beef, cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups barley
3, 32 oz containers of beef stock
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 shallots, minced
8 cloves of garlic, minced
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 lb button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 heaping tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 12 oz beer (Something dark or medium. I used Resurrection by "The Brewer's Art")
fresh ground pepper and coarse sea salt, to taste
the juice from 1 freshly squeezed lemon
Start by putting the barley, Worcestershire, thyme and 2 of the containers of beef stock into a large pot and set it to start boiling. While the barley is getting started, add some olive oil to a large pan around medium-hot setting and when it gets hot, add the beef chunks.
Brown the meat on all sides, then using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to the pot with the barley. Add the dried thyme and the bay leaf. Each time you stir the mixture, remove the bay leaf so that you don't lose it, then put it back on top of the soup while it simmers.While the meat is browning cut up the onion, shallots, and garlic.
Add the onion, shallots and garlic to the beef fat in the pan, and cook until softened. About five minutes. Then add this to the large pot.
If needed, add a little more olive oil to the pan, then add the baby bellas, and brown on both sides.
When they are nicely browned, add them to the large pot, then start adding the button mushrooms to the pan to brown, a little at a time.
Add the last container of stock as needed. While the soup simmers it will slowly begin to lose liquid, some of which, needs to be replaced.
When everything is done in the pan, you should de-glaze the pan. I used a half of a beer to do this, and added the left-over half beer to the pot of soup.
Add the de-glazed-beer mix to the pot and simmer for about twenty minutes, then serve hot with some bread. Just before serving the soup, add the lemon juice. I was told that it would add a "brightness" to the soup, and it really did.
At the end of the meal everyone was satisfied, but Hubby did suggest I leave out the beer next time. I guess I'll have to find something else to de-glaze with, but I think I'll manage.