Whenever I make soup - and it doesn't matter which soup I make - my husband Anthony will come out of the kitchen, glowing, a bowl of soup in hand, and the following hilarity will ensue:
"This is my favorite soup!"
"How do you know?"
"I've been married to you for 35 years."
"No, I mean, really. This is really my favorite soup."
"You said that about the soup I made last week."
At this point, there is a pause, and Anthony will stare at me like he's trying to remember who I am, and blink a few times. I know what he's doing: he's checking the memory bank. For those of you who are new to this chronicle of my life and times, I have long suspected that Anthony's human body is inhabited by a series of alien tourists.
"Well, that's my favorite soup, too," he will say, thinking that he is cleverly covering up his alien origins by posing as a garden-variety human lunatic. "But this soup is great."
It's nice to be appreciated.
Here's Starman's latest:
Favorite Beef Barley Soup
Take a couple of beef shanks and a package of stew meat and put it in a big pot. Cover it with about 6 cups of beef broth. (I use College Inn 48 oz. size, which comes in a box.) Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and then turn the heat down so that it's barely boiling. Peel and chop 6 cloves of garlic and a couple of onions and add it to the pot. Add a few bay leaves, too. Now, when the soup comes to a boil again, add a couple of teaspoons of beef bouillon, stir, and turn down the heat. Cover the pot, but leave a little "vent" with the lid so it doesn't boil over. Simmer for a couple of hours (you should watch the heat to make sure it's simmering). When the stew meat is almost tender and the shank meat starts to fall off the bone, add a large can of Italian plum tomatoes, chopped celery, and sliced mushrooms that have been sauteed in hot olive oil with a pat of butter (because mushrooms don't taste like anything unless they're sauteed in some kind of fat). Put in your spices. too. Basil, thyme, and parsley are good. Keep simmering, with the pot still (mostly) covered. About an hour before you want your soup to be done, add a cup of barley, one-and-a-half cups of water, and some cut-up carrots and potatoes. Keep simmering until the barley, carrots, and potatoes are tender, about another hour. Add fresh black pepper. And salt, if you need to. At the very end you can stir in a bag of frozen peas, but that's optional. I say "optional" because I always forget.
This soup is my own recipe that I just made up one day, so take whatever liberties you want with it, but I won't be responsible. It takes a long time to cook, but you're not doing anything difficult or labor-intensive, and it's almost impossible to screw up. This is a wonderful soup for winter or for spring days in places like Chicago, when it's still cold outside because the east wind is blowing off that giant freaking ice cube that accumulated in the lake last winter, and we're shivering in t-shirts because we're idiots.
And it's great anytime a new alien drops in. Really.