It is finally getting colder around here, and I don't mean just for a day or two, but it is officially "no more flip-flops" weather around here and I want some soup, soup, soup!
Also, both me and my son have had a cold for over a week now, and I wasn't craving just any soup, I was craving the most basic Croatian clear beef soup with noodles.
I am not even sure what to call it. It isn't exactly a broth, even though you could call it that I guess, but it has way better taste than broth, a fuller taste. And with the addition of noodles it makes it a traditional starter for weekend meals back home.
Growing up I don't remember one single weekend where our meal didn't start with some kind of soup, but this is my favorite. It is light, healthy and it worms up the tummy so it gets it ready for all the yummies coming afterwords. Also, very often we make a meal out of the beef cooked in the soup, as well as the veggies, mostly carrots. On the side my mom makes her potatoes that we love as a side to the cooked beef. They are just boiled potatoes, then cut into slices and sauteed on top of some diced caramelized onions. They get browned in some spots and they are a perfect match to this meal.
As an alternative, sometimes we make a potato salad with onions (with pumpkin oil) and it goes really nicely with the meal too, that is what I made this time.
Also, we love to eat horseradish (creamy works too) with cooked beef. It rounds up the meal perfectly!
Beef and Noodle Soup
2 to 3 nice pieces of beef shank, about 2 lbs
about 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of water
1 big parsnip
1 celery root (if you don't have it just use couple of stalks of celery)
5 sprigs of parsley
4 cloves of garlic
2 kale leafs
a few peppercorns
thin noodles (any kind you like, dried are better than vacuumed, homemade are even better)
Wash your beef and pat it dry. Cut the onion in two halves and put them on a small piece of aluminum foil, then put both on a non stick pan and cook the onion on the cut side down for a few minutes until it darkens really nicely. Put the beef in a big pot and pour water over it. They say if you start with cold water you will have a better soup, if you start with hot, the meat will be better. I always like the meat, but the soup is the real prize for me here, so I start with cold water.
When onions are nicely darkened on the sliced side (blackened is good) and the water starts boiling, put them into the water and add the peppercorns and salt. Add all the other vegetables. Carrots and parsnip need to be cut into about two inch pieces, as well as celery stalks if you are using them. If you find celery root (which was not easy for me) use about 3 to 4 good wedges. Garlic stays whole and no need to cut the parsley either. You might like to have some extra of it for later to garnish with, though.
Cook the soup covered on low to medium heat for at least two hours, when its adjust the seasoning as needed. Strain some of the soup (depending how many portions you are preparing) in a separate pot and bring to boil. Add the noodles and cook until done.
Serve the soup in bowls with little bit of fresh chopped parsley sprinkled on top. I also like to add a piece of carrot into mine, it brightens it up.
Once you take out part of the soup to be cooked with noodles, take out the beef on a separate plate along with the carrots. If you enjoy other vegetables from the soup, take them out also. I love all veggies, but with this I only like carrots.
Strain the remainder of the soup and put into a container. This can go into the fridge or freezer when it cools down and it's a wonderful quick soup to make whenever you want.
The only reason I don't make this all the time, like my family does home, is because I'm a bit lazy to go meat searching, and often I don't find the cut of meat that I need in the store...but now that the cold weather is here, I will make that extra effort to get the comfort and deliciousness of this meal.