Slow Cooked Beef, Barley and Vegetable Soup

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Nanny’s Soup

There are few greater feelings for a mother than having dinner on at 9.30am – knowing that you won’t have to pull a rabbit out of a hat later on when everyone is tired and cranky. Better still, is when dinner is this magical healing soup.
It’s based on the delicious soup my mum made us every winter to fill our bellies and ward away the coughs and colds. Which we all have here at the moment – terrible coughs, aches, fevers and chills. It’s rough taking care of sick kids when you’re delirious with fever yourself…
Anyway, hopefully this soup will help return us to good health. (And hurry up Spring!)
It’s cheap, it’s easy and utterly delicious. I make a huge batch so that I can freeze half.
Nanny adds a packet of chicken noodle soup to hers at the end for a bit of extra flavour but as we like to avoid additives I add half a cup of risoni, some mixed dried herbs and a good pinch of sea salt instead.

Here’s How:

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In a slow cooker (or large stock pot if making in the stove top)

Add:

At least 500 g of a cheap cut of beef – I used 4 pieces of Osso bucco this time as I like to get all those healing minerals from the bones and marrow but I’ve also used gravy beef, casserole/chuck steak etc…
1.5 cup soup mix (Barley, split peas etc…)
1 diced onion
2-3 minced/finely chopped garlic cloves
2 carrots diced, chopped or grated
2 celery sticks, chopped
Optional (1 grated parsnip)
2 litres stock
Top up with 1 litre of water
Good pinch of salt and cracked pepper
2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs
1/2 cup risoni

Cook on low for 8 hours
After 4 hours, remove meat and cut into bite size pieces, return bones and all to the pot.
Add risoni 1 hour before serving.

Enjoy:-)

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Beautiful Bone Broth

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Dear lovely Vegan friends, look away now.

I’ve been making my own nourishing, flavour packed stock for about a year now and as well as being so good for us, it adds such a depth of flavour to so many meals. Well, actually, I’ve recently learned that what I’ve been making is in fact broth not stock. The difference apparently being that meat stock is the product of slow cooking pieces of meat (such as a whole chicken) in water flavoured with some veggies, herbs, salt and pepper, while bone broth is as it sounds, a flavoursome broth made from roasted bones, slow cooked in water, also flavoured by veggies, herbs, salt and pepper.
Both are delicious and full of healthful gut healing and immune boosting properties. As the meat or bones are cooked, their nutrients are slowly released into the water – vitamins (particularly the B vitamins) amino acids, nourishing fats and minerals. Meats cooked in water are a good choice for people with digestive issues as they are easier to digest than roasted, grilled etc…
This is hardly a new concept or surprising info. What’s the first thing people crave when they are sick? A comforting bowl of soup. One of the oldest, most popular home remedies for healing all ailments and ills, is a hearty chicken soup.
For more information about the healing benefits of Broth/stock I highly recommend checking out “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” (GAPS) by Dr Natasha Campbell-Mcbride.
Now, lets get down to business and make some broth!
I should add, for the record, that making broth/stock is so easy (especially if you have a slow cooker) and costs basically nothing. You’ll wonder why you ever bothered with cubes and cartons.

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YOU WILL NEED

* 2 carrots, halved

* an onion, quartered

* 1-2 celery sticks, halved

* any other vegetable scraps you have or those that are looking tired in your crisper.

Note: Throughout the week as I cook, I collect things like celery tops, broccoli and cauliflower stalks, kale and silver beet stalks and stems and store either in the fridge or freezer to add to the stock.

* 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

* 1 teaspoon good quality salt (pink Himalayan or Murray river if in Australia)

* 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

* 2-3 bay leaves

* 1 tbsp mixed dried herbs

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* And most importantly, BONES!

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It is important that your bones come from healthy free range animals – apart from the obvious ethical issues – you’re not going to get a lot of nutrition from a malnourished factory famed animal.
Until recently, most of my stock was made from chicken (bones) as it was the easiest free range animal to source locally. Drumsticks in particular are always a hit with my kids. They’re cheap, easy to cook and the meat falls easily away from the bone. When I’m making stock, I usually request that the meat is cut away from the bone rather than chewed and sucked dry! Mind you, after being re-roasted at a high temp in the oven and then slow cooked for 24 hours, I’m pretty sure that any bacteria from our eating would be well and truly killed.
Recently, good old social media put me back in touch with an old school friend who shares similar concerns and ideas around food and nutrition. She put me onto a local farm who deliver to my door, delicious bulk orders of beef and lamb from ethically farmed, grass fed animals. Check out http://www.braelandsbeef.com I also received a huge box of bones with my order for free. Some went to the dogs of friends and families, some into the freezer for a later date and some straight into the oven to roast for what would be the richest, darkest, best broth I’ve ever made!

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HERE’S HOW

* Roast bones (in a couple of knobs of butter, coconut oil etc…) at 200 dc (390 F) for about 30 mins or until nicely browned

* place all other ingredients in the slow cooker (crockpot)

* add your roasted bones

* fill with water, making sure all ingredients are well covered

* for chicken bones – cook for 12-24 hours
* for larger beef or lamb bones – cook for 24-72 hours.

Note: The finished broth pictured (from beef bones) was cooked for 40 hours.
You may need to top the water up once or twice during cooking.

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* When the broth has finished cooking, remove all ingredients from pot with a slotted spoon and discard.

* Ladle the liquid through a strainer (sieve) into a jug and pour into clean glass jars.

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* fill the jars leaving about an inch from the top. (This is important as the liquid may expand while freezing and if too full, cause your jar to break.)

* store in the freezer for a least 3 months but probably a lot longer. Mine is always used by then!

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Enjoy the goodness 🙂

Green Goodness Soup

Technically, winter is over but do you feel like you’re missing a ‘Spring in your step?’
You need a bowl of this:

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GREEN GOODNESS SOUP

Using a large cast iron or stainless steel stock pot, gently sauté:
2 garlic cloves and one leek in some extra virgin olive oil for a couple of minutes until it smells delicious.
Then add, 2 large zucchinis, diced
And 1 litre good quality stock, preferably home made.
Bring to the boil then reduce to a medium simmering heat for about 5 to ten minutes until zucchini is just tender.

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Meanwhile, rinse and tear from thick stems:
2 cups of kale and 2 cups of spinach. (I used Tuscan kale, also sometimes called Tuscan cabbage. This is a darker, longer leaf compared to the common curly variety.)

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Ladle soup into a blender with the greens or if you have a stick blender, turn off heat and add greens to pot.

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Blend until totally smooth.

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Pour a lovely hot nourishing bowl of soup and stir through:
1/4 cup coconut cream

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Enjoy the goodness 🙂

Getting the good stuff in. Ren’s top 5 tips…

A friend popped in briefly today and said “your recipes and posts look amazing! I feel like such a bad mum ’cause I think, yeah I should do that – and then I go, oh, who’s got time for that? Here kids, have a vegemite sandwich!”
Well, I reminded her firstly that little R will not and never has eaten sandwiches. Anything bread like for that matter. He turns his face away in disgust like I’m trying to feed him poison. (Does he know more than we do?) He used to occasionally munch on a bit of toast when he was very small but only really to suck the butter off. So sandwiches were never an option for me with him. J, 4yrs, loves sandwiches but depending on the bread, they don’t always love him. Although generally more expensive, I’ve found spelt or kamut flour breads or mountain bread wraps are the best option on the digestive front with no hidden nasties. (My local food works supermarket has a great range called “Ancient Grains.”) Or of course, you can bake your own.
The other factor to note is that with two busy boys, my house looks like a bomb has hit it most days. I’m busy failing in all sorts of other areas too! Different people, different priorities 🙂
But she’s not the first frazzled mum to ask me “how?” or “when?” so these are my top 5 tips for getting the good stuff into you and your family:

1. Keep a container of veggie sticks in the fridge (carrot, capsicums, cucumber, celery, fresh green beans)

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Chop up enough to last the week on a Sunday night while you’re watching 60 minutes and then when you or your munchkins are sniffing around for a snack, plop them on a plate with some dip and some plain rice crackers if you need to ease them into the veggie idea. (the Sakata ones are the only brand not covered in artificial junk) The dip pictured above is my ‘best of a bad bunch choice’ for when I haven’t made my own, as its list of ingredients is actually recognisable foods and it’s preservative free. Making your own dips however, is a much better option. (I will post some recipes soon but in the meantime, feel free to share your favourites with the rest of us!)

2. Make veggie soup.

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Now, you’ve already got a whole lot of veggies out that you’ve been busy chopping up for snacks, so why not roughly chop some more and throw them in the slow cooker with a diced onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, some dried herbs, a tin of tomatoes (try to find a brand that don’t line their cans with BPA. Alternatively, use a jar/bottle of passata.) and a litre or three of nourishing homemade stock. (Depending on how many veggies you’ve cut up.) Cook on low overnight and ladle into jars in the morning. (It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or for at least 3 months in the freezer. Then simply heat and serve for an easy winter lunch or snack. If your kids won’t eat it chunky like this, purée in the blender first and give it to them in a mug. I like to serve this with something protein based to keep them full. For example: hard boiled eggs, some leftover meat from dinner the night before or J’s favourite: a ham roll up – a slice of Istra Ham (ethically farmed, preservative free) rolled up in a slice of buttered mountain bread.

3. If dinner includes bones, make stock

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Check out my post here about how to create a rich, nourishing homemade broth/stock.

4.Keep your juicer/blender on the bench otherwise you’ll never use them. And pre-prepare fruit and veggies

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These days I buy two bags of delicious oranges a week -in season, fresh, juicy and perfect for boosting your vitamin C during winter. One bag i keep for whole fruit snacks and one to peel and store in the fridge for juice/smoothies. (It’s the hospitality training in me!) Celery is a pain to store in the fridge anyway so before you put it away with your groceries, rinse it and chop lengths into halves. Bananas going brown? Peel them, slice and freeze for smoothies and ice cream. You get the idea.

5. Always make more than you need

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I always make our smoothies the night before when the kids are in bed and sanity is returning. When little people aren’t pestering you, EVERYTHING is easier to prepare. And I ALWAYS make enough for two days unless it is quite acidic. (With lemons/oranges)
The https://renlikesred.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/breakfast-moothie/ keeps really well for two days but no longer. Always make double batches of casseroles, stews and soups, roast extra veggies for lunch the next day, cook extra chicken drumsticks to shred for tomorrow etc… And make sure you use everything up!

So there you have it, these are some of the ways I try to stay as organised as possible so I always have something nourishing to feed my hungry little monsters.
Would love to hear some of your tips!