So sometime back when I started this blog I went down to Ethyl’s Food Truck Night where Stephanie Izard was selling her new book “Girl in the Kitchen” and selling soup from the Lillie’s Q food truck.
Since then I have watched that season of Top Chef and finally this week made the attempt to cook some soup out of her book. The closest description to the soup she was selling that night was the recipe for “The Never-Ending-Chicago-Winter Beef Stew”. I am not sure that it is exactly the same, but it got a bit colder at the start of the week and I really fancied something warming plus all these trips up and down the Elevated Railway looking for food are making me fat and I needed some good home cooked healthier food. The thing about Stephanies book is that although the recipes sound quite fancy and to be honest have so many ingredients that I would never have dreamt of putting togther, the overiding message and feeling I get from the book is that really the idea is to mix and match what you like and try some of the ideas not just follow the recipes blindly. Of course I just followed blindly as I didn’t read that bit until after I had cooked the soup. The other good thing and true as it happens is that you can cook these recipes (at least this one) in your own kitchen and that you can source the ingredients from a normal supermarket or grocery store. I got all my stuff from the local Jewel Osco, so that was true as well.
I am not going to list the recipe in detail its in the book and not really that hard to follow, even with pictures, there were just really three steps, well five if you include shopping and eating.
First steps was cutting up 1 pineapple, and apple and a pear, 3 garlic cloves and a small onion, then a couple of pounds of beef cubed and a whole load of freshly ground pepper.
First cooking step was just to brown off the beef with some pepper and salt
Then just a case of sweating down the onions and garlic, apparently until they are translucent, so bit gentler then than I usually do mine for my spaghetti bolognase
The next part of the soup was the bit that I was most doubtful about, adding pineapple, pear, and apple, plus some red wine. I was fine with the wine, and maybe one fruit but three? Ok I guess if a Top Chef thinks it works then I will run with it and give it a go. It certainly smelt nice as it was cooking and a nice sweet aroma filled the kitchen, a bit like a German Christamas market hanging around the Glühwein stall, kind of a savoury mulled wine mix. Although by now I had consumed a glass of the red wine I bought for cooking the soup so it was all going swimmingly well
About 10 minutes later everything had cooked down nicely, reduced I suppose if we want to be technical and even the camera lense was getting the full effects of the steamy aromas.
That just left the last cooking step which was to chuck the beef back in, plus some cider, tomatoes, fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, and some sambal. The next bit is the longest part leaving it to simmer for about 4-5 hours until the meat was tender enough to eat.
I have to be honest and I got a bit impatient so the first bowl was eaten after 3 hours of cooking and the meat was almost tender, but still a bit chewy, I still was not convinced about the chunks of fruit either although the flavour of the broth was amazing, tart, spicy, fruity and savoury all at the same time, very warming.
The next day after having spent a totally riduculous amount of time thinking about the soup and discussing whether or not it had been a success or if I even liked it, I decided that the only bit I personally did not enjoy was the fruit lumps, it wasn’t the flavour, just for me the texture was too much and overpowering a mouthful. So in the end I strained the soup, pulled out all of the chunks of meat, and then put all the fruit into a processor and blended it up and added it all back into the pot and cooked for another hour with some fingerling potatoes.
This was much more successful for me, all the flavours remained, probably even enhanced a little and I was just able to then tuck into some nice potato and falling apart beef chunks.
I was well worth the multiple hours of effort to make the soup, and I still have several portions left in the freezer, which I will enjoy more by not having to spend 5 hungry hours cooking and waiting.
Recipe can be found on page 90 in Stephanie Izard’s “Girl in Kitchen” cook book -‘ How a Top Chef cooks, thinks, shops, eats and drinks’