Brrrr…it sure is cold outside. Though it may have taken its time to arrive, winter is certainly upon us now. There is something downright debilitating about the cold weather. When it is biting outside, the cold seems to go right through your body. It chills your bones, numbs your senses. And so, beyond hibernation, when the thermometer drops I delight not only in big bushy woolen sweaters, but in hearty soups and stews bound to warm the soul.
“Marak” – Hebrew for “soup”- is derived from the word “mareik,” which means to cleanse. When a soup is being cooked, the ingredients are cleansed, and the impurities are released. Think of your chicken soup – the scum rises to the top and is then skimmed off. Take it a step further. Perhaps consuming soup cleanses a person’s ailments. Chicken soup, the classic home remedy goes back way further than one could imagine. The Talmud mentions Rabbi Abba, who was said to have consumed fowl that was soaked in hot water as a remedy (Shabbos 145b). Maimonides prescribed chicken soup as a cure for individuals suffering from hemorrhoids (Treatise on Hemorrhoids). And to this day, what nurses the common cold better than a bowl of mom’s chicken soup?
Hot and satisfying, a good soup can restore your health and mood on the coldest of days, arming you with renewed strength and energy. The following recipe is one of my favorite winter soups and is certainly hearty enough to be considered a meal all by itself. It features “flanken”, a Yiddish term referring to a small, juicy and tender rib. The best soups are made with the best ingredients, so look for the freshest vegetables and the leanest flanken you can find, and don’t forget to freeze a container to warm up a cold night to come.
Meaty Mushroom and Barley Soup
White mushrooms can be used exclusively in this soup, but a combination of mushroom varieties will add more depth of flavor. Cremini and/or baby bella mushrooms are wonderful choices in addition to the white mushrooms.
- 1/3 cup dried porcini or wild mushrooms
- 1 ½- 2 lbs. beef flanken, cut into 6-8 pieces
- 3 quarts (12 cups) water
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 large celery stalks, sliced
- 2 large or 3 small carrots, peeled and sliced
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 lbs. fresh mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup chopped parsley, for garnishing
Soak the dried mushrooms in enough hot water to cover for 20-30 minutes. Strain the mushrooms in a sieve, reserving the water. Coarsely chop the dried mushrooms.
Place 3 quarts water (not the mushroom water) and flanken in a large soup pot (at least 8-quart) over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and skim off the foam that rises to the surface. After all the impurities have been removed, add all of the remaining ingredients, including the chopped dried mushrooms and the reserved mushroom water. Stir and raise heat until soup is boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer for one hour. Season to taste with plenty of salt and freshly ground pepper. If the soup is too thick, add some additional water.
Ladle soup into bowls, giving each serving a generous portion of the flanken. Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
Tags: Kosher Recipes