Spezzatino di Manzo con Pomodorini e Verdure
Italian Beef & Vegetable Soup with Cherry Tomatoes
There's no two ways about it- a hearty soup is always a wonderful thing to come home to on a cold Winter's night! I was planning on making something completely different with my thinly sliced beef flank, but the urge overcame me... I tried to resist, but when I realized the futility of the situation, I took that kitchen knife and I cut that meat. I cut it into bite-sized chunks before I could even begin to humor the possibility of me changing my mind. So- it was done! Well- at least that first decision was made- now how would I go about making this work?
I started off by boiling some water in my electric kettle and with a saucepan and a frying pan on the stove getting hot! Into the saucepan went the celery and carrots, and into the frying pan went the beef. I made sure the vegetables were covered in boiling water, seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika and a tiny hint of sugar, and let them cook down into a nice stock. After 5 minutes or so, I added the bell pepper, lowered the heat and let it simmer away.
I flash fried the beef at a very high heat and removed it from the frying pan. I added a tablespoonful of tomato paste which I roasted for a minute or two, into the beef juices, then deglazed the pan with a little Sambuca. I followed this up with some of that boiling water I mentioned, so as not cool cool everything down and lengthen the cooking procedure. Then in went a handful of finely chopped parsley and about half as much marjoram, a little peperoncino and a squeeze of lemon.... yum!
I then transferred the flavored broth from the frying pan, to the vegetables and added the beef so that they could now all continue cooking together. Browning the meat and getting the good flavor up from the frying pan really give this whole thing a boost- you will see there is already a lot of flavor going on in there!
Last but not least, came a handful of cherry tomatoes, which I halved and a spring onion cut into slices. And that was it- the classic Italian flavor base of the celery, carrot and onion, the parsley and the tomato, the garlic and the marjoram for more depth of flavor, the heat of the ground chili and the freshness of the lemon juice- what more you you possibly need to bring a little Mediterranean sunshine into a cold, dark, Winter's night? Buon apetito!