When it's cold and dark outside, there is nothing better to fill up an empty tummy than a good bowl of soup. This is the sort that is a meal in itself - almost verging on a casserole !
Wholesome and hearty - yet full of goodness. I just want to grab a big bowl of the stuff and give it a hug...
This recipe is entirely my own. I originally made it several years ago from some meat in the freezer and storecupboard supplies. Over time, I've fiddled with it a little. I often vary the addition of herbs and sometimes add some chilli if I fancy a kick.
Essentially - it has not changed. I make it every few weeks and a big pot goes a long way. I've written it in my recipe book incase one day in years to come Oliver want's it and I'm not around. That's the thing about recipe books. Handwritten ones that is. I think our souls live in recipe books. Recipes from my mum, grandmother and great grandmother. There is love in recipe books. Feelings. Passion.... and MEMORIES.
When my grandmother passed away a few years ado, I was asked if there was anything I would like to keep. I've got some baking tins and her handwritten recipe book - though most of the pages are not attached. My Gran's writing is in there along with the recipes of things she used to regularly bake. My Gran baked - I don't really remember her trying lots of new recipe dishes, but she did bake a bit and the old recipes were the favourites.
When she left us, her recipe book had been in the drawer in the kitchen - the spine broken and covers all taped together in tatters. A new recipe book was with it. Totally empty and mine to fill. I've transferred the recipes I remember my Gran using into the new book and been adding favourites of my own. This may only be a soup - but it's MY soup, my way and will hopefully one day carry memories of it's own and a happy home.
I love to serve it on a winter weekend evening with some homemade crusty bread . If time does not allow substitute for some fresh rolls from the bakery (as in photo).
BEEF RUSTICA - Sarah-Jane Nash
I cook this in an electric pressure cooker. If you don't have a pressure cooker, cooking time will be much much longer.
500g braising / casserole steak
2 medium onions, diced
3 cloves of garlic - finely chopped / pressed
2 tins tomatoes (preferably plum tomatoes)
tablespoon dried oregano
5 beef stock cubes
100g double concentrate tomato puree
4 beef stock cubes
cup of pasta shells
1500ml of water
2 tablespoons of cornflour.
If your braising steak is already diced into 1" cubes, cut each of these into 3 pieces. I like nice big chunks of meat through this soup. Very roughly chop the plum tomatoes whilst still in the can and add these (complete with juice) into the pressure cooker
Put all ingredients except the cornflour and pasta into the pressure cooker. I don't brown the meat for this at all.
Bring to pressure and cook for 30minutes. Release steam. Give it a stir and add pasta shells. Check seasoning and add some salt / pepper as required
Mix the cornflour with a little water and add this to the pot, mixing in. Bring back to pressure for another 5 minutes.
That's it. Simple, Hot, Tasty, Cheap, Filling.
Will easily serve 6 hungry people !
Sarah-Jane Nash, http://www.siliconemoulds.com/ and http://www.naturalheating.co.uk/ - February 2011