Proving my point . . . yes, I am cooking. A house guest is arriving chez moi tomorrow and I need to have food around. For as long as I can remember I've wanted to have incredible food readily available in my kitchen. I want to open the refrigerator, look in the pantry and say, "Oh my, we probably need to eat something. Let me see what I can find. Oh, voila!" It should look effortless and only I will know how I worked to achieve this seemingly effortless and totally delicious food. It's like creating the equivalent of ramen noodles that Julia Child would make.
So I tried yet another soup recipe, this one from a blog I follow called Café Sucré Farine. The blog is in French but I quite adeptly translated it for you. (Lies! Such an intriguing name but the blog is in English and it's really a great blog, full of reliable and delicious recipes.) You can find a link to the blog on the right in my list of favorites.
This recipe was a bit tedious--all that chopping of beef and vegetables into 1/2 inch dice. I'm lazy but I did it. And it was worth it. I cooked the soup exactly according to the recipe and it's fabulous. Not as heavy as traditional Beef Bourguignon but intensely flavored. The beef is so tender, so loveable that it could appear effortless. Only you and I will know.
All credit to the Café Sucré Farine for the recipe and the photo.
Beef Bourguignon Soup
3-4 thick cut slices applewood smoked bacon, approximately 4 ounces
2 tablespoons flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds stew beef meat, cut in ½-inch dice
1 medium onion, chopped in ¼-inch dice
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups good quality dry red wine, a little more than ½ of a 750ml bottle
6 cups beef stock
4 medium fresh thyme sprigs
1 large bay leaf
4 tablespoons pesto, prepared or homemade
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 stalks celery, diced into ½-inch pieces
8 medium carrots, peeled and diced into ½-inch pieces
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced into ½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Cook bacon over medium low heat until golden brown and crisp, but not hard. Do not overcook. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Remove half of the bacon drippings and set aside.
Combine flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add beef and toss with your hands to coat.
In a large Dutch oven or heavy duty pot, heat bacon fat over medium high heat until hot, but not smoking. Add ½ of the beef and spread out to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook, undisturbed until the beef is golden brown on the underside, about 5-7 minutes. With a large metal spatula, flip beef to uncooked side and cook until second side is golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to a clean plate. Add the rest of the bacon fat to pot. Heat until hot, add remaining beef and repeat cooking process as directed above.
Once second batch of beef is browned, return first half of beef to pan. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add tomato paste and 1 of cup wine. Bring to a boil then lower heat to maintain a low simmer. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally to loosen brown bits from bottom of pan. (I like to use a thin bladed metal spatula for this.) Simmer until most of the wine is absorbed, about 20 minutes then add the remainder of the wine and simmer until almost completely absorbed .
Add the beef stock, thyme, bay leaf, pesto and brown sugar and return to a boil. Reduce to a low constant simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour or until beef is tender. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs.
Add celery, carrots and potatoes, cover loosely and cook till tender, about 20-25 more minutes.
While vegetables are cooking, melt butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When butter is bubbly, add mushrooms and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Add mushrooms and bacon to soup and stir. If soup is too thick add a bit more stock or water. Taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper, if needed.