Slow cooked beef and barley soup

slow_cooked_beef_barley_soup
This recipe makes a delicious hearty winter soup that’s rich in protein and fibre and is substantial enough for an evening meal.

Barley is a good source of trace minerals manganese, molybdenum and selenium. Manganese supports healthy bone structure while molybdenum plays an important role in helping the body detoxify acetaldehyde, released as a by-product of yeast, funghi and alcohol metabolism. Selenium aids cognitive function, boosts the immune system and supports fertility in both men and women.

Barley is one of the oldest consumed grains in the world. It’s high in dietary fibre, providing food for “friendly bacteria” in the large intestine and its dietary fibre is high in beta glucan which helps lower bad cholesterol and protect the body against heart disease.

Cooking the vegetables together in a single pot using low heat preserves many of their nutrients and makes a wonderfully balanced meal with a good serve of beef to add plenty of protein.

To make the barley more easily digestible by the body I like to soak it overnight (see notes under Preparation) but if you’re short on time this step may be skipped.

Ingredients

  • 500g/18 oz chuck steak or slow cooking beef (use a good quality, grass-feed beef)
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 100g/3.5 oz kale
  • 1 x 400g tin or 1 x 14 fluid oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 100g/3.5oz pearl barley – thoroughly rinsed
  • 500ml/1 pint bone broth or beef stock
  • 375ml water/13 fl oz water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation

If you have time, soak the barley overnight (or for up to 24 hours) with a teaspoon of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (if you some available). This will help neutralise the phytic acid and make the barley easier for your body to digest (for further information refer to Dr Weston Price). Once complete, drain and rinse thoroughly.

Method

  1. Heat a heavy based saucepan to a medium-high heat then add a tablespoon of olive oil and cook the beef in batches (so as not to overcrowd the pan) until brown all over then set aside
  2. Clean and heat the pan again to a medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and cook the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes until they start to turn translucent then add the carrot and celery and cook for another minute or two
  3. Add the beef back to the pan along with the crushed tomatoes, bone broth/stock and water and bring to a simmer then transfer to the slow cooker/crock pot
  4. Cook on low for 6 hours then add the barley and kale and cook for another 2 hours
  5. Serve sprinkled with your favourite chopped fresh herbs

Serves ~6

Pea and Broccoli Soup

pea-and-broccoli-soup
I’m loving this green soup recipe at the moment. It’s tasty, nutritious and thanks to the potato leaves you feeling nicely satiated.

I like to make it with my own homemade chicken broth but if you’re vegan you can easily substitute with vegetable stock.

Health benefits

Peas are little powerhouses of nutrition packed with vitamins and minerals and because they’re actually part of the legume family they’re a good source of dietary fibre, contain protein, lots of B vitamins and even omega 3 essential fatty acids. Research has linked the consumption of peas to lowering the risk of stomach cancer and type 2 diabetes. They also have high levels of antioxidants and strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Broccoli is considered to be a superfood by many. Just a single cup serve provides 245% RDI of vitamin K which plays an important role in blood clotting and bone health and 135% RDI of vitamin C (a concentrated antioxidant source) which helps boost the immune system, supports cardiovascular and eye health and helps protect the body against cancer and strokes. Broccoli has a strong positive impact on the body’s detoxification process and helps lower levels of bad cholesterol.

If using real chicken broth, you’ll get an extra dose of minerals, gelatin and overall immune boosting properties.

Ingredients

  • 2 good sized broccoli heads (around 450g or 1 lb)
  • 2 cups good quality frozen peas (around 250g or ½ lb)
  • 1 litre / 2.1 pints good quality chicken stock/broth or vegetable stock
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 good sized potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Method

  1. Bring a large saucepan to a medium-high heat and fry the onions and garlic for a couple of minutes until they start to turn translucent
  2. Add the stock and potato and bring to the boil then allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are nice and soft
  3. Add the broccoli and peas and cook for a further 5 minutes
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool then blend until smooth
  5. Season with salt and pepper

Serve topped with your favourite chopped herbs and some natural yoghurt if you feel like something a little creamy

Serves 4

Moroccan inspired sweet potato soup

moroccan-sweet-potato-soupSweet potatoes are in season at this time of year in Australia and they’re delicious and cheap.

A quick recap on the health benefits of sweet potatoes: they’re high in beta-carotene which the body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A is used by the body to support healthy skin and eyesight, fight infections and boost the immune system. Beta-carotene has been credited for its cancer fighting properties and is a powerful antioxidant.

In this recipe, I double up on the healthy orange stuff by roasting sweet potatoes together with carrots. The flavour is balanced with the addition of chickpeas which give a delicious nutty taste and the lemon and spices create the Moroccan flavour.

As with most of my soups, I use home made bone broth as a base however this can easily be substituted with vegetable stock for vegetarians and vegans.

Ingredients

  • 600g or around 1.25 lb of sweet potatoes
  • 300g or around 10.5oz of carrots
  • 1.5 Litre or just over 3 pints of bone broth or vegetable stock
  • 1 x 400g tin/1 x 14 oz can of chickpeas OR approx 250g/9 oz soaked and cooked chickpeas
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • I x medium-large brown onion
  • 2 x cloves garlic or 1 heaped teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 1.5 teaspoon dried cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried coriander
  • half a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes

Accompaniments

  • half a teaspoon of lemon juice per person (3 in total)
  • 1 tablespoon thick natural yoghurt per person
  • a few leaves of fresh coriander/cilantro

Method

Chickpeas

I like to prepare the chickpeas from scratch. I soak a big batch of dried chickpeas in plenty of filtered water over night (for at least 12 hours) then rinse and cook for 1.5 hours. I then freeze in batches of approx. 250 g or 9oz.

If you don’t have time, just use a can/tin.

Soup

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peel the sweet potatoes and carrots and chop them into pieces roughly an inch (2-3cm) thick and drizzle them in approximately 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes.

Roughly chop up the onion and finely chop the garlic (if using whole garlic cloves). Heat a large, heavy based saucepan to a medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and fry the onion and garlic until they start to turn translucent (a couple of minutes should do) then stir through the dried cumin, coriander and dried chilli flakes for approximately 30 seconds. Add the stock and vegetables and bring to the boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes (allow 15 minutes if you have time). Remove from heat and allow to cool then blend in batches until smooth.

To serve

If you have some fresh lemons handy, squeeze just under half a teaspoon of lemon juice per serve (the entire batch will render 6 good sized serves), stir well and top each bowl with a tablespoon of thick natural yoghurt and some fresh coriander.

 

Serves 6 and freezes well

 

Harira soup with lamb shanks

lamb-shank-harira

I was at a Moroccan restaurant recently during Ramadan and was served a delicious harira soup at Iftar – the evening meal that breaks the day’s fast.

I started to play with recipes and decided to improvise by using lamb shanks as I’m a big fan of cooking meat on the bone. The prolonged cooking time allows the bone nutrients to be leached into the soup, resulting in a hearty meal that nourishes the digestive track and boosts the immune system.

This dish does take some time to cook but the flavour is sensational and it’s easy enough to prepare. The ingredients are reasonably inexpensive and it goes a long way so great if you’re feeding a family.

Ingredients

  •  Approx 1.2 kg or around 2.5lb lamb shanks (two to three depending on the size) – the weight doesn’t have to be exact, it can be over or under depending on what you have available
  • 1 litre/ 2 pints bone broth or good quality stock
  • 1 cup dried brown/green lentils* OR 2 x 400g tins/14oz cans
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas* OR 2 x 400g tins/ 14 oz cans
  • If using dried lentils and chickpeas – juice of half a lemon or 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 x 800g tin/24 oz can chopped/crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic or 3 teaspoons of minced garlic
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander/cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil

 Method

Preparation of dried lentils and chickpeas

If using dried lentils, soak them overnight in plenty of water (preferably filtered) and either a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or the juice of a quarter lemon. Aim to soak for at least 8 hours and not longer than 18 hours. There’s no need to cook them before adding to this dish.

If using dried chickpeas, aim to soak them for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours, again preferably using filtered water and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or the juice of a quarter lemon. You’ll then need to cook them for about 1.5 hours. Obviously this is a time consuming process so I like to cook big batches and freeze them in 1 cup measurements.

If you simply don’t have time for this process, opt for tinned lentils and chickpeas.

 Harira

Bring a frying pan to a medium to high heat and cook the lamb shanks for a couple of minutes on each side or until golden brown. Lamb is generally fatty enough that you don’t need to add oil to the pan to cook, however if you’re using lean lamb shanks you may wish to add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan first. Once the shanks are cooked, set them aside.

Heat a large, heavy based saucepan to a medium heat and once hot add the olive oil. Fry the onion and garlic until golden brown then add the tomato paste and cook for another minute.

Add the bone broth, chopped/crushed tomatoes, cumin, coriander, paprika, bay leaves and lamb and bring to the boil them simmer for an hour and a half. Next, add the chickpeas and lentils and cook for a further hour and a half. The lamb should be falling off the bone by this stage. If not, cook for a further 30 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes, then remove the lamb shanks. Discard the bones and any excess fat, then break up the meat, return it to the saucepan and stir through. Serve with some thick natural yoghurt and some fresh coriander/cilantro if available.

This dish freezes well.

Serves 6

Detox Broccoli Soup

detox-broccoli-soup
This is a perfect soup if you’re on a detox, have been unwell, are strictly limiting calories (such as on the 5 & 2 diet) or are simply looking for a delicious way to ingest a big serve of green vegetables. I like to make mine with bone broth to provide extra nourishment for the gut, but a vegan option made with vegetable stock is just as tasty and certainly quicker and easier to prepare.

Ingredients

  • 1kg or 2.25 pounds of broccoli (around 4 large broccoli heads)
  • 2 large celery sticks
  • 1 leek
  • 2 litres bone broth or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Good quality salt (as much as you like to taste, I use just under a teaspoon)
  • Ground black pepper (again, as you like)

Method

Chop the celery (you can use the leaves) and the leek (the white and light green part, discarding the tough dark green part) and wash well. Heat a large saucepan to a medium-high heat and once hot add the olive oil and cook the leek and celery for around 5 minutes until they start to soften.

Add the bone broth/vegetable stock and other ingredients and heat until the liquid reaches a simmer. Depending on the size of your broccoli, you may need to break it up so that it fits in the pot. It doesn’t matter if a little sticks out above the liquid, stir it up as it cooks and the broccoli will start to submerge.

Cook for around 30 minutes until the broccoli is soft, then remove from heat. Once it has cooled blend well.

This makes quite a big batch so I like to freeze individual portions for days when I’m fasting.

Serves ~6

Roast Pumpkin Soup

roast-pumpkin-soup

Whether you’re vegan, paleo, cooking on a shoestring budget or simply looking for a tasty soup that the whole family will love you can’t go past this recipe.

According to a 2014 study by William Paterson University, pumpkins contain an exceptional amount of carotenes which protect against a range of common western ailments including cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

As a vegetarian for 15 years, I always made this recipe with a vegetable stock. These days, I make the soup with a bone broth for extra immune support and to boost gut health. Either way, the flavour won’t disappoint.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium sized butternut pumpkins/squash or equivalent of any other pumpkin that you like
  • 2 brown onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 sticks chopped celery (optional)
  • 1.5 litres vegetable stock OR bone/chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon of tamari or salt-reduced soy
  • 1 teaspoon of good quality salt (eg Himalayan crystal/celtic sea salt)
  • freshly ground black pepper (around quarter to half a teaspoon depending on how much you like)
  • 1 tablespoon cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

Method

Cut the butternut pumpkin/squash in two and place on a baking tray in the oven. If using a different type of pumpkin, cut into half/quarter size pieces that will fit comfortably on a baking tray. Bake in a medium oven (180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit) for 1-1.5 hours until the pumpkin is soft and has turned a slight golden brown colour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then remove the seeds, scoop out pumpkin flesh and set aside.

Heat a large pot to a medium heat and add the olive oil, allow to heat for 15 seconds or so then cook the onions and garlic until golden brown. If using celery, add and fry for around 30 seconds. Remove the pot from the heat and add the pumpkin flesh, followed by the rest of the ingredients including the vegetable stock or bone/chicken broth. Return the pot to a medium heat and bring to a simmer, then reduce to a low heat and cook for approximately 45 minutes. Once complete, remove from the heat and allow to cool then blend into a smooth soup. Serve topped with thick, natural yoghurt and some fresh parsley.

Serves 6-8 and freezes well.

Bone Broth

bone-broth

Bone broth from any kind of good quality organic/free range animal renders a myriad of health benefits, boosts the immune system and is particularly good for restoring gut health.

I generally use the broth as a base for soups and freeze in 1 cup batches to use as stock. However you can equally drink a cup of bone broth as a daily tonic when run down or to ward off common winter ailments.

Ingredients                        

The ingredients listed here are intended as a guide only. I have a 6 litre slow cooker (crock-pot) which is ideal for making big batches of stock. Play around with what works best for you depending on the cooking utensils you have at home.

  • 2 kg organic/free range meat bones including marrow bones if possible OR 2 cooked chicken carcasses
  • 2-3 sticks of celery, chopped*
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped (you can leave the peel on if organic)*
  • OPTIONAL: half a cup of whatever fresh herbs you have available (eg parsley, coriander/cilantro, basil etc)
  • 1 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon good quality salt (eg Himalayan crystal or Celtic sea salt)
  • Fresh ground pepper (around quarter to half a teaspoon)
  • Filtered water (I find I generally need at least 4 litres)

Method

If using raw meat bones, roast them for an hour in a medium oven (180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit), otherwise the flavour of the broth can be unpalatable. If using chicken carcasses, I tend to freeze the bones of cooked chickens until I have enough to make a stock (about 2 chicken carcasses).

My preference is to use a slow cooker/crock-pot as it’s easy and energy efficient (my slow cooker uses about the same amount of energy as a light bulb). Simply add all the ingredients to the slow cooker, cover with filtered water and cook on a low setting for at least 8 hours. I prefer to cook for longer – up to 24 hours, to allow plenty of time for the nutrients to leach from the bones.

If cooking on the stove, add all the ingredients to a large pot with a lid and cover with the water. Bring to a low simmer over a medium heat, then continue to cook over a very low heat for as long as you have time (I suggest a minimum 3-4 hours and a max of 8 hours so as not to leave the pot unattended).

Whichever cooking method you’re using, once complete allow the broth to cool then strain. I choose to place it in the fridge for several hours/overnight (whichever is convenient) so that the fat sets on top and any excess can be scraped, which can be a good option if using lamb bones which are very fatty. Note however that vitamins A, D, E & K are fat soluble therefore it’s always advisable to allow at least some fat to remain to help your body absorb the nutrients from the bone broth.

Makes around 3 litres/6.5 pints

*I’ve listed carrots and celery in the ingredients but you can experiment with whatever vegetables you have available.

 

Hearty Lentil and Cannellini Bean Soup

hearty-lentil-soup
There are so many great things about this dish. It’s full of flavour, inexpensive to make and loaded with nutrition. I make mine with slow cooked bone broth, reknown for its healing properties. However, if you’re vegan/vegetarian, you can easily substitute with a vegetable stock – it will taste equally good.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of brown lentils
  • 1 x 400g tin/ 14oz can cannellini beans
  • 1 x 400g tin/14oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander/cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika (I choose sweet paprika)
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 2 large celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 2 litres/8 cups/~4 pints bone broth/chicken/vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preparing the lentils and cannellini beans

I like to soak the lentils overnight (for anywhere between 8 – 24 hours) in filtered water with a dash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. I really find this step aids digestion and prevents the formation of wind-promoting gases usually associated with consuming pulses/legumes. For more detailed information, refer to the Dr Weston Price Foundation. If you’re short of time however, you can skip this process and simply use dried lentils. Either way, make sure the lentils are thoroughly rinsed before adding to this dish.

Similarly I like to soak dry cannellini beans, however these require at least 12 hours soaking (some literature recommends up to 24 hours) and then simmering for 1.5 hours. I cook big batches and freeze the beans for later use, however if you’re short of time opt for tinned beans.

 Method

Heat a large saucepan to a medium heat, add the olive oil and fry the leek, carrot and celery for around 5 minutes until softened. Add the tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes, then add the lentils (either pre-soaked or dry) and stock and cook over a medium-low heat for an hour, allowing the soup to gently simmer.

Add the crushed tomatoes, cannellini beans, coriander, paprika and some salt and pepper and cook for another 30 minutes – 1 hour. The soup will be ready after 30 minutes, however I like to let it cook a bit longer so that it reduces to a really dense, hearty soup.

Enjoy straight away or freeze for later use.

Serves 4-6