rage beef soup is fucking delicious.

One thing that’s been a big adjustment living with my partner is that, while I still enjoy cooking, I now mostly do it for instrumental rather than pleasurable reasons: I’m trying to get a meal on the table approximately five nights out of seven that will nourish two adult humans and not take hours. As such, I don’t often have leftover energy to cook or bake for pleasure. I didn’t exactly make this here pot of soup that I’m going to tell you about for pleasure, but I did not do it for an instrumental reason either, and it felt great. I did it because I was mad. I stress-cooked a *lot* when my grandpa was sick, and I had that exact same feeling today, of walking into the kitchen and having something concrete on which to focus and into which I could channel my energy.

The last time I made beef stew I used this recipe from an internet person I like and I gotta say, I was underwhelmed. The flavor was sort of a blunt instrument, too beefy and wine-y, and you know, I don’t really like cooking with wine, but sometimes I do what people tell me and then I regret it. After being underwhelmed by that stew I had this idea to make beef stew on my own terms, something lighter and more herby, but that was like two years ago and I never did it. Now I did. Here’s how you make it. You’ll need:

Stew meat (I had 1.5 pounds, and the recipe was built around that, but you could definitely increase the quantity of beef without monkeying around with other ingredient amounts)
1 1/4 quarts chicken broth
5 carrots, chopped and unpeeled
5 small potatoes, chopped and unpeeled
3 small onions, diced
6 smallish stalks celery, chopped
5 – 6 cloves garlic, minced
2 dried red chilis
2 – 3 bay leaves
~3 heaping tablespoons grainy mustard
~5 sprigs fresh thyme
~1 tsp. mustard powder
Black peppercorns
All-purpose flour
Coarse ground black pepper
Kosher salt
Olive oil

Before you start, chop everything. This isn’t even doing a mise, this is just not making a terrible life choice.

Start by putting your stew meat in a zip-loc bag. Pour enough flour into the bag to cover the meat, shake in some coarse-ground black pepper and some kosher salt, seal the bag, and shake vigorously. There! You’ve just dredged your meat. See how easy that was? Now place it in a single layer in the bottom of a pot in which you’ve been heating just enough olive oil to coat that bottom and brown the meat. About three minutes per side is good. (You should probably brown it on all sides, but I just did the top and sort of the bottom and it was fine.) It should be sizzling and spitting and generally making a mess. Watch your flame to ensure you don’t burn the meat! You want the oil as hot as it can get without burning anything.

When the meat is browned, remove it to a plate using a slotted spoon, turn down the flame and add your garlic. You may need more oil; feel free to add it. Now, I didn’t intend to brown the garlic, but the oil was too hot and I did. I don’t know if I’d do it again, but I certainly don’t think it hurt the dish. I’ll probably try it next time without browning the garlic and see how it tastes. Eiher way, after the garlic’s had a few minutes, add your chopped onion, saute it around and cover the whole mess in chicken broth. I finished off what I had in the fridge and used another whole quart.

You’re probably wondering why I used chicken broth in beef stew. That is a fair query, and it stems from my reaction to the last beef stew I made, which had a base made of beef broth and red wine. My primary complaint about that stew was the heaviness and single dimensionality of its flavor. It had no sparkle. I theorized that using water or chicken broth as my liquid base would be less oppressive and would allow the ingredients themselves to shine. I feel this plan was a success, and it did not make the stew taste of chicken.

At this point, you can go ahead and add all your chopped veggies, as well as your pile o’ meat and any juices that may have accumulated while it sat. You may need to add more liquid at this point. I was out of chicken broth, so I added about a cup and a half of water, but you could definitely just add more chicken broth. Turn the heat all the way up and begin seasoning the fuck out of this pot of potential deliciousness. I crumbled in two dried red chilies and three-ish bay leaves, poured in probably around a tablespoon of whole black peppercorns, shook in a small amount of mustard powder (definitely no more than a rounded teaspoon), and added a whole bunch of grainy mustard. I estimate I added around three heaping tablespoons, but what I did in reality was take a small soup spoon and dig around in the jar until I felt I’d added enough. After adding the mustard, I whisked a whole bunch, because mustard clumps and so does dried mustard and you want to make sure the deliciousness is evenly distributed. I also, at this point, took four or five sprigs of thyme and just dropped them right into the pot, stems and all. It’s good for you. It’s collagen.

Bring the soup to a boil. There will be a sort of gross oil puddle in the middle of your roiling bubbling mass of soup; feel free to remove most of it. You’ll know you’ve gotten the majority when you’re having trouble getting just oil and you keep winding up with oil and broth in your spoon. Then turn the soup down to a simmer, cover it, and leave it alone for 15 minutes. At this point, you should very carefully (your tastebuds will thank you for not scorching them off) taste it and deduce what it needs. Mine needed salt and more mustard; yours may have very different needs. Then cover it and leave it alone for about ten more minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender. The flour you used to dredge the beef should thicken the stew sufficiently, but if you feel it needs to be thicker, make yourself a little slurry of water and flour, add it and cook until it has reached thickness sufficient to your needs. Then you’re done.

Guys, this shit is bananas. You too should diffuse your rage into a pot of this delicious soup. Your blood pressure will thank you.

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About Sara

I like to talk about media, food, and gender.
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