Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Soup Or Stew?

Two weekends ago, we threw the ingredients for chicken noodle soup in the crock pot and went out to see a movie and do a few errands. It was great to come home to chicken soup smell and have dinner ready for us, it was almost as if we hadn't done anything and dinner magically appeared. So this past weekend we wanted to do the same thing - a crock pot soup. After much debate, some research for a lamb & barley soup, and then a decision to not leave the house on Sunday, we came up with a lamb & barley dish - but is it a soup or a stew?
We started  off by browning 2+ pounds of lamb stew meat. The last couple of times we made dishes with lamb and veggies and barley and/or potato, the dishes were a wee bit disappointing in flavor and texture. Given the cost of the lamb meat, I was adamant that we end up with something tasty, not something mushy and bland. So, brown bits. A key to flavor. Since we were staying home all day, we decided to make the soup on the stove and not in the crock pot.
After removing the browned lamb, we sauteed carrots (4), celery (2-3 stalks), and onion (2 small). Next, we deglazed the pot with the rest of our white cooking wine (probably a bit less than half a cup) and then added chicken stock (about 1.5 boxes of stock) and seasonings to the pot.
Lots of seasoning: parsley, oregano, rosemary, and several bay leaves, or I should say bay leaf bits as ours are now broken into many pieces.
The soup simmered for about 2~2.5 hours and then we added the barley (a bit more than half a cup) for the last 30 minutes or so. The result - a tasty soup/stew. It had a thin broth like soup, but it was very hearty and filling like a stew. Maybe call it a hearty soup? SP sprinkled some dried mint into his right before he ate it and said the mint was delicious in it.
When we re-heated it the next night, we added a bit of tomato paste and a dash or two of Worcestershire. Those two ingredients added a nice dimension to the hearty soup - I wouldn't necessarily say an improvement because the initial soup was very tasty, but a different delicious taste. We also added some more chicken stock because there wasn't a soup-like ratio of broth to goodies.

There's no recipe to share, we just looked up lamb and barley soup recipes to get an idea of the 'usual' ingredients and looked at our past lamb dishes on the blog and figured out what we wanted to add. Then we threw stuff in a pot, repeatedly tasted as it simmered, and ended up with a very tasty meal.

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