Beef and Vegetable Soup
Choose whole sirloin tip steaks over ones that have been cut into small pieces for stir-fries. If sirloin tip steaks are unavailable, substitute blade or flank steak, removing any hard gristle or excess fat. Button mushrooms can be used in place of the cremini mushrooms, with some trade-off in flavor. Our preferred brand of beef broth is Pacific. If you like, add 1 cup of frozen peas, frozen corn, or frozen cut green beans during the last 5 minutes of cooking. For a heartier soup, add 10 ounces of red-skinned potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 cups), during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
1 pound sirloin tip steaks , trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (see note above)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pound cremini mushrooms , stems trimmed, caps wiped clean and quartered
1 large onion , chopped medium (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 medium garlic clove , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
1/2 cup red wine
4 cups beef broth (see note above)
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 medium carrots , peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
2 medium ribs celery , cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin (powdered)
1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
Table salt and ground black pepper
See Illustrations Below: Building Meaty Flavor Quickly
1. Combine beef and soy sauce in medium bowl; set aside for 15 minutes.
2. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add mushrooms and onion; cook, stirring frequently, until onion pieces are brown and dark bits form on pan bottom, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer vegetables to bowl.
3. Add beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and meat starts to brown, 6 to 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add red wine, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, and cook until syrupy, 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Add beef broth, chicken broth, carrots, celery, bay leaf, and browned mushrooms and onion; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until vegetables and meat are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. While soup is simmering, sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let stand.
5. When soup is finished, turn off heat. Remove bay leaf. Add gelatin mixture and stir until completely dissolved. Stir in parsley; adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, and serve.
Step-by-Step: Building Meaty Flavor Quickly
Mushrooms: Sautéed cremini mushrooms begin to build flavor.
Tomato Paste: Thick tomato paste caramelizes in the pot to create more flavor.
Soy Sauce: Strips of beef are marinated in soy sauce before being browned.
Red Wine: Red wine helps loosen flavorful browned bits from the pan bottom.
Step-by-Step: A Tale of Two Meats
Too Dense: Tender cuts such as strip steak and rib eye become tough, livery, and chalky when simmered in soup.
Loose and Tender: Cuts with a loose structure, such as sirloin tip steaks, give the impression that the meat has cooked for hours.
Step-by-Step: The Flavor Base Begins
Before the beef is added to the pot, create a flavor base by browning chopped onions and cremini mushrooms. Stir frequently until the onions are really brown and dark bits form on the pan bottom. Don't shortcut this process or you will rob your soup of flavor.