Soups and stews are the ultimate stuff of comfort food on chilled autumn and winter nights. This recipe has been handed down through generations from my mother’s family. Mom made it frequently without a recipe. When I left the nest for life on my own, she gave me the approximate proportions of the ingredients on an index card I still have in her own handwriting.
The recipe probably originated with her ancestors in their homes in Rumania more than 150 years ago. Through the years I worked out the proportions so the recipe no longer says “some flanken” and “some pearl barley,” etc.
You may have seen Beef-Barley Soup on menus in Jewish delis. But you’ve never tasted it like this.
BEEF, BARLEY AND MUSHROOM SOUP
1 lb marrowbones
1 ½ lb beef flanken cut into pieces of 2 or 3 bones eqach
2½ qts water
1 celery stalk, with leaves, diced
1 onion, diced
2 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp powdered ginger
2 packages of dried procini mushrooms (soaked in hot water to soften)
3/4 cup pearl barley
5 white mushrooms, quartered
1 cup diced carrots
Wash the bones well under cold water to remove any slivers and fragments from the butcher’s meat saw.
Place the bones, meat, water, celery, onion, salt, pepper and ginger in a large soup pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook at a slow boil 2 hours. Remove the bones and meat. Strain the liquid.
(At this point it’s a good idea to cover the broth and refrigerate it overnight so the fat will congeal and can be removed easily before proceeding.)
Remove the flanken from the bones, pull the meat apart into small pieces and return it to the soup. Brink it to a boil and add the barley and dried mushrooms. Simmer 2 hours longer. Add the carrots and white mushrooms and simmer ½ hour.
Makes 16 bowls of soup. Two bowls are good for a dinner entre on a chilled night.
Here’s a tip: count the number of flanken bones you put into the pot. It’s very likely the meat will cook off some of the bones and it will help to know how many you are trying to fish out of the pot when the time comes.