Thursday, July 8, 2010

Comfort food - old school style

It has been rather chilly here in Sydney and nothing is nicer in the cold weather than a really hearty, old fashioned soup. My original plan was to make a soup based on vegetables, barley and ham hocks - but when I went to the butcher they had run out of ham hocks (everyone else in the neighbourhood must have had a hankering for soup making too) The lovely butcher suggested he cut me some pieces of osso bucco as an alternative and that it would work really well with the barley.

Well, the lesson here ladies and gentlemen, is listen to the butcher. He was dead right, and this soup turned out beautifully. Absolutely bursting with flavour, full of delicious nutty tasting barley and lots of veges. Not only was it tasty, warming and satisfying - it was also super healthy. I cooked the soup for around 3 hours, so it isn't one to whip up after work or when you are in a hurry. It does however, freeze beautifully, so do a big batch on the weekend and freeze it in portions to have whenever you fancy.

I love the addition of silverbeet to this soup - please note that we are talking silverbeet here (the big tall dark green leaved stuff with the white stalks. Also known as Chard) not English spinach. English spinach is far too delicate for this super robust dish. If you really hate silverbeet, then just leave it out - but I love my greens and I think it really adds extra flavour and texture to this soup. I also prefer the soup to be quite thick, but add more stock or water if you prefer it a bit lighter. I was so happy with the addittion of the osso bucco to this soup I will be doing it this way from now on. Try it and see if you agree....

Beef and barley soup

You will need: 2 medium carrots, 1 parsnip, 1 leek (use only the white part), 2 brown onions, 3 or 4 stalks of celery, 1 bunch silverbeet, 2 medium potatoes, 3 pieces of beef osso bucco (with the bone still attached of course! You want that precious marrow), 1 cup dried barley, 2 litres beef stock (I just used the commercial kind from the supermarket, but if you have homemade stock, then use it), 3 cloves garlic, 2 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 bunch fresh continental parsley, a couple of pinches of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste.

Method: Wash the carrots, parsnip and potatoes thoroughly. Leaving the skins on, (more flavour and more vitamins!) dice them into pieces 1-2 cm in size. If you want super chunky soup, then by all means cut them bigger. Now cut your celery into pieces, around the same size as your other veges. Set your veges aside.

Cut the really thick white stalks from the silverbeet and then slice the green part - you can cut it quite thickly as it will shrink a lot once you cook it. Set the silverbeet aside. Slice the leeks, dice your onions and finely chop the garlic.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onions, leek and garlic and cook them on a medium heat until they are soft and slightly transparent. Add the carrot, parsnip, potato, celery, bay leaves, cayenne pepper and  season with a generous pinch of salt. Cook the veges for about 10 mins, stirring regularly so they do not stick to the bottom of the pot. Add the osso bucco and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the beef stock and top the pot up with water so that it only leaves about 3 fingers width of space between the liquid level and the top of the pot. Cover the pot until it comes to the boil and then turn it down to a very gentle simmer. Allow to simmer like this, stirring occasionally for about 2 hours.

After 2 hours, add the barley and stir it in well. Simmer for a further 45 minutes and then add the silverbeet. Let the soup cook for another 15 mins or so. If it gets too thick, just add some hot water. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as required.

By this stage most of the meat - if not all - should have fallen off the bones. Remove the meat and bones and chop any larger pieces of the meat into smallish pieces. If there is still marrow in the bones, then remove it and chop it up too. Return all of the meat (minus the bones) to the pot.

Just before serving, chop up the fresh parsley and fold it through the soup, keeping a little in reserve to put on the top. Serve with crusty bread.



  1. Hi, I found out about your blog from a mutual friend – Amanda in Kyneton (hope you know who I'm talking about!). Anyway, I hadn't thought of using osso buco pieces for making a soup until I read this recipe, and then of course I said to myself 'of course!'. Anyway, it sounds like a yum recipe, and I think I might make it this weekend.

  2. Hi Jamie - welcome to Gourmet Goddess. Yeah, it seems such a logical addition to hearty soup, but I never thought of it until the butcher suggested it! Gives some great flavour to the soup and I really think that that marrow makes the soup special. Let me know how you go with it. Cheers! GG

  3. i was thinking - would nettle also work in stead of silverbeet? just for something a bit different


  4. I think nettle would work brilliantly and I would add it in about the last 10 mins of cooking time. Good call! It also got me thinking...endive or a bit of witlof or radiccio would work too. XX

  5. GG, I made your beautiful soup the other night and my sister and her partner dropped in and had some as well. He, who is not backwards in coming forward when something is not to his liking, said it was restaurant worthy and delicious!!! Don't think I've ever heard a compliment like that before. Well done for a stunning dish, and the osso bucco was definitely the right way to go.

    Love your work!


  6. Thanks for the lovely feedback Sue! Really glad it worked so well and your guests enjoyed it so much.I really think that it is the marrow in the osso bucco that gives it that extra richess. My butcher is a genius ;)