November 04, 2006

Beef Barley Soup And The Meatballs Therein

The national chain grocery where we buy the majority of our food had a special on pre-packaged ground beef a couple weeks ago. They just resctocked, so we exercized our raincheck and got three, three pound, chubs for $.99 a pound. The wee wifey decided that as long as she was going to break them up into single meal packages, she would put them up as meatballs, and made three batches in keeping with the following recipe.

3 pounds ground beef
3/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs -- or cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon celery salt -- to 1-1/2 tsp or regular table salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
* 2 Tablespoons sriracha sauce -- or other hot sauce to taste OPTIONAL
1 small onion -- chopped or 1/4 cup dry onions
* granulated garlic -- to taste
3 large eggs
3 Tablespoons dried parsley

Note that if you use crackers you don't need to use salt. One sleeve of saltines yields one cup of crumbs. Unless everyone you serve likes a little heat it is probably better to add the hot sauce only at the next stage. Sriracha is subtle enough that this batch had it in both.

In medium bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well. Shape into 1 1/2 to 2 inch balls using a tablespoon measure slightly heaped. For cocktail meatballs, aim for 1 inch diameter with a smaller measure. To brown in oven, arrange in un-greased shallow baking pan; bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until browned.

Once cooked, the meatballs can be frozen for storage. Freeze'm first, the wee wifey laid them in an aluminum pie pan, and then bag. That way they don't stick together. Defrost by simmering in sauce or soup.

Tonight she used some of those meatballs as an ingredient in a big batch of beef barley soup. The commercial condensed version is one of the few canned soups I like; this is infinitely tastier.

1 1/2 pounds meatballs
3 medium onions -- chopped
* up to 4 cloves garlic to taste -- minced
1 bunch celery -- diced fine
* 2 green pepper -- seeded and chopped
6 cups water
4 cans beef broth -- (14.5 ounce) OR equivalent in water & beef soup base
* 2 Tablespoons sriracha sauce -- optional or use your favorite hot sauce to taste
2 cups quick-cooking barley
4 cans diced tomatoes with garlic and onions -- (14.5 ounce) undrained
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons celery salt -- or garlic salt
2 teaspoons dried basil -- or Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons instant coffee -- optional
2 Tablespoons sugar

In a Dutch oven, cook onions and celery until vegetables are tender; drain. Stir in the water and broth; sriracha sauce & meat balls & bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Add barley; cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes or until barley is tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients; heat through.

If you do not care for celery, as has been reported by comment to a previous recipe, carrots could be substituted. Frozen ones could be added at the final stage; diced fresh ones would need to be included at the start. Note that soup base, and not boullion, was called for. There is a real difference in quality. We use the Watkins brand, which the wee wifey's great-great grandfather once peddled from a horsedrawn wagon, added to the water per the packaging. Boullion has more salt and less flavor, which means adjustment is needed. The optional instant coffee serves to bring out the beef flavor - you don't taste coffee - and is part of said adjustment. The sugar serves to balance the acidity of the tomato. This batch contained two cans broth, two cans water with soupbase, coffee, no salt and all optional ingredients.

The quantities listed produce a large batch of soup. If we have any left (I ate three bowlfulls for dinner and more this morning) it should freeze quite nicely and can be defrosted in the nukerwave.

Note - details edited after posting - the wee wifey read it on her downstairs computer.

Posted by triticale at November 4, 2006 08:57 AM | TrackBack
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