Monday, September 15, 2014

Easy, Savory Beef Soup with Mushrooms, Potatoes, Leeks and Thyme

Oh, this hit the spot on a cool, overcast day!

This recipe really began with the bowl my big sister gave me as an early birthday gift. I wanted something earthy, delicious, and visually appealing to fill it. This recipe fit all those criteria. Warm. Filling. Savory. With autumn just over the horizon, shorter days, cooler evenings, this hit the spot. 

There is nothing more classic than the combination of beef, leeks, and thyme. Add a bit of shaved Gruyere ... seasoned croutons ... and you have a soup worthy of any five-star restaurant.

And, it was so easy. Done in less than one hour. The ingredients of a good recipe linger on the palate. And lure you back for second helpings. Enjoy.

  • 1 good cup chopped leeks, white part only
  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms (I used plain old white button mushrooms)
  • 3/4 - 1 cup unpeeled, roughly-cut red potatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (a bit more if using fresh)*
  • 1.5 cups beef stock plus more if needed (I used Swanson, low-sodium**)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Seasoned croutons (I used Pepperidge Farm seasoned herb cube-cut stuffing mix)
  • Gruyere cheese, grated

In a medium/large saucepan, drizzle in a bit of olive oil. Add the leeks and mushrooms and celery. Sweat for about 5-8 minutes over medium heat. The mixture will have reduced by about half as it cooks down.

Add the thyme and garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes. Mix in potatoes. Grind in pepper to taste and the salt. 

Add the beef stock and water. Stir to combine. Add the Worcestershire. Mix. Bring just to boil. Reduce heat and simmer a good 20 minutes until potatoes are tender and still hold their shape. About half-way through, add the butter which will give a richness and gloss and taste for seasonings. Add more stock/water if warranted.

When done, using a fork, mash some of the potatoes against the side on the pan to thicken the soup a bit.

Ladle into bowls. Top with seasoned croutons and cheese. Mozzarella would also work well, as well as any good Swiss. 

*When I have leftover fresh thyme I buy at the grocery store, I simply store it in the fridge, a bit opened. It will naturally "dry out." That is what I used for this recipe. If using dried thyme leaves, go easy at first, since it's a bit stronger. If using fresh, you may need a bit more. Season and taste as you go. 

**I find Swanson beef broth a bit strong, so I always water it down. My favorite is Pacific, in which case I probably would have used most full strength. This is why it is important to season and taste as you go.