Thursday, June 5, 2008

Barley Vegetable Stew with Mandlen

Tonight I made two more dishes in my "The Art of Jewish Cooking" by Jennie Grossinger cookbook series. The barley stew was thick and hearty, almost like a congee. I accompanied it with mandlen, or 'soup nuts'--little round crackers.

Barley Vegetable Stew

I took a few liberties with the original recipe and I'll try to point out where I followed it and where I changed things. I took my time and made a batch of chicken broth first, which I used as the base for this soup and also for the chicken meat (and to have broth on hand). I think this extra step made the final product deliciously complex, so I strongly suggest using your own broth rather than bullion.

My first alteration was using a ham shank, because I'm a heretic like that. I think the recipe would still be good without it, or you could use a smoked turkey leg, or hell you could just keep the whole thing vegetarian. I used a leek instead of the original onion, and I think it also added a lot to the soup. You could add more liquid if you want a soup instead of a stew, but I don't think it would be as satisfying and flavorful.

1 onion or large leek, sliced thinly
4 carrots, grated
4 Tbsp. butter
1 c. barley
2 quarts broth
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
salt and black pepper

Optional Ingredients:
  • 1 soup bone
  • 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes (or any hearty root vegetable), cubed
  • 1 c. leftover cooked chicken
  • 1 c. greens or green beans
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed soup pot. Cook and stir the onions/leeks until soft. Add the carrots and continue to cook until beginning to brown. Add the barley, broth, bay leaves, soup bone (if using), 1 Tbsp. of salt and several grinds of black pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, simmering for 1 hour and stirring occasionally. If you used a soup bone, remove it at this point and cut off any meat to add to the soup. Add the cubed potatoes and cook for 15 minutes. Add the leftover chicken and greens and cook for 15 more minutes. Salt and pepper liberally and stir in the parsley and vinegar. Adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve as is or with crackers such as mandlen.

Mandlen aka Soup Nuts

1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Beat the oil and eggs together. Add the egg mixture to the flour and mix well, kneading until smooth. Roll into narrow (1/4") snakes and slice into 1/2" rounds. Place the rounds on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, shaking a few times, until browned and semi-crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Store in a well-sealed container until ready to use.

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