Fall is, by far, my favorite time of year. Even before the season begins, I can feel the subtle changes. The summer nights feel shorter. The brilliant green on the maple leaves begin their transition to radiant shades of yellow, gold and magenta. And when the end of summer breeze has that hint of autumn cool my culinary gears shift and always turn to homemade soup.
My mom’s homemade soup started with hamburger and was filled out with fresh vegetables from her garden. She would add beef bouillon to enhance the broth, a couple cloves of garlic, and a store bought rutabaga or turnip (one of the few veggies she didn’t grow).
My soup has evolved from my mom’s recipe. There is one thing we agree with: There is nothing that warms the soul more than a hearty soup filled with end-of-summer and beginning-of-fall veggies.
I use a couple pounds of a good cut of beef. If you buy the beef from the butcher, all good. Most grocery store meats have salt water injected that is supposedly done for “flavoring”, or, if you use meat from the freezer, water naturally accumulates on frozen meat. The trick here is to dry the raw meat on paper towels and let it come to room temperature.
I sear the beef in avocado oil because avocado oil has a high smoke point, plus it doesn’t add an extra flavor like olive oil does. The searing process creates the nice browned bits left in the bottom of the pan (Fun Fact: this residue is called fond). Once the beef is seared to a nice dark brown, I remove it and place it in my oversized crock pot (after growing up in a family of seven kids I still make enough for an army!) and turn the crock pot on high.
I add about a cup of water to the fond and scrub until all those flavorful bits have relinquished their hold to the bottom of the pan. The fond goes directly into the crock pot with a couple 32 ounce containers of beef broth.
Next, I cut up one very large sweet yellow onion, a few stalks of celery, mince around six medium sized garlic cloves and caramelize the veggies in avocado oil. Ladle some of the broth from the crock pot into the pan to ensure you get all that caramelized goodness.
Next ingredient is always barley. I throw a handful (about a third of a cup) with the caramelized veggies to the crock pot and simmer until the beef is tender.
This is where the list of veggies can change depending on my mood and availability. I love parsnips! They are a staple in all my soups. The best way to preserve the flavor is to oven roast them. I slice them into sticks, spray with avocado oil and roast in the oven. If my mood is for zucchini, I slice them with my Pampered Chef crinkle cutter and oven roast the slices as well.
Baby carrots are another favorite along with red potatoes. I use a medium size potato and cut them in fours and cook them, along with the carrots, directly in the crock pot.
Green beans (fresh or frozen) are also a great addition and along with frozen peas, add nice color to the soup.
Once you've added all the veggies and the soup is piping hot, dive in and get ready to taste a bowl full of heaven.
It doesn’t matter if you make up your recipe on the fly, or use one that’s been handed down in your family. It’s all relative. Just cook with the love … and share your recipe!
For more about Billie, check out her bio page.