Archive | Vegan/Vegan Adaptable RSS feed for this section

Recipe: Sautéed Baby Red Swiss Chard (Bietina)

10 Mar

You’ve vowed to eat more leafy greens, and you’re doing a great job adding more collard, kale, mustard greens, spinach, and other leafy greens to your diet. In Italy, where I live, those other greens would also include borage, broccoli rabe, chicory, escarole, watercress, and wild greens. But as you munch your way through one high-fiber, high-mineral, high-vitamin leafy green after another, there comes a day when you realize that, much as you love them all, one sautéed leafy green looks much like another. You have fallen into a green rut. That’s when Swiss Chard comes to the rescue. With Swiss Chard, you can have your leafy greens and ruby-red stems, too (if you get the right kind; chard stems can be white, yellow, or red).

Swiss Chard, or bietina/bietola in Italian, is widely eaten in Italy and around the Mediterranean. Why, you may ask, is it called Swiss Chard? No one knows. It’s not Swiss. But the plant may have first been described by a Swiss botanist, so that could be the answer–though it’s possible a German botanist actually did the describing first. It is one of those common plant-name oddities, like Jerusalem Artichoke.

This recipe uses tender, baby red Swiss Chard. If the chard you have is bigger/older, you may need to cut the leaves off the stalks, and add the chopped stalks to the skillet first, to give them more cooking time.

Recipe: Sautéed Baby Red Swiss Chard
2-3 servings

1 1/2 lb. (3/4 kg.) baby red Swiss Chard
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
chili flakes/crushed red pepper
salt and pepper

Preparation

1. Trim the stalks by cutting them off the root end of the bunch of chard. Most stalks should be thin and tender. With larger stalks, take a knife and carefully remove the stringy part by peeling down the center of the stalk.

2. Wash the greens in plenty of cold water, swishing and swirling to remove any dirt or grit. Drain in a colander.

3. Drizzle some olive oil around the bottom of a heavy skillet; add the garlic, chili, and salt; grind some pepper over; and cook the garlic and chili over medium-high heat for about a minute. Add the chard, stirring occasionally to make that sure none of the leaves get stuck to the bottom of the skillet, and that all leaves get cooked. As with all greens, what looks like a huge amount will soon cook down to a fraction of its former volume. If the pan seems too dry, add a bit more olive oil.

4. Check the seasonings, and serve either warm or at room temperature.

Recipe: Bolivian Soup with Wheat Berries (Sopa de Trigo)

29 Jan

There are probably as many versions of this soup as there are Bolivian families, and all of them likely to be delicious, but this is the version that has evolved at our house over the years. I love the bright-red color that comes from the tomato and chili pastes; it brightens even the coldest, most dreary day. I also love the soup’s many layers of flavor, each one contributing to the overall symphony. It’s even better the next day, so it’s a great make-ahead dish. And it’s very adaptable: make a vegetarian version by eliminating the beef/lamb, adding more veggies, and using vegetable broth/bouillon. Or substitute quinoa for the wheat if gluten is an issue.

dsc_0370-1

Bolivian Soup with Wheat Berries (Sopa de Trigo)

Wheat/Hominy:
1/3-1/2 c. dry wheat berries/trigo pelado
1 can (14 0z./400 gr.) cooked hominy/mote blanco, undrained
–OR 1/2 c. dried cracked hominy (maiz blanco trillado)–see photo below

½ c. freeze-dried potato/black chuño (optional)

Soup broth:
12 c./3 liters beef broth
1 lb./500 gr. meaty, bone-in beef or lamb
1 large onion, halved
1 large tomato, quartered
2 carrots, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
beef bouillon cubes (optional)

Soup Vegetables:
3/4 c. petite peas
2 large carrots, julienned
3 large potatoes, julienned (it’s traditional to julienne both the carrots and the potatoes, but I have been know to dice both instead…)

Sofrito:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lg. onion, finely diced
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1-2 tbsp. red aji (chili) paste (aji colorado/aji panca)–see photo below
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. dried oregano
coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

Toppings:
2 green onions, finely sliced
1 tsbp. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp. finely chopped  fresh mint

1-fullsizerender-14
Dried cracked hominy

1-fullsizerender-13
Red aji (chili) paste

Preparation:

  1. Note: If using  the optional freeze-dried potato/chuño, soak it in warm water overnight prior to making the soup. Before adding it to the soup in step #5, drain it and squeeze as much water out as possible. If necessary, chop into small pieces.
  2. Place the wheat berries (and, if using, the dried hominy) in a medium saucepan, cover with several inches of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 60-90 minutes or until both wheat and hominy are soft. Drain and set aside. If using canned hominy, pre-cook only the wheat, and add the undrained canned hominy to the soup in step #5.
  3. Meanwhile, add the broth and meat/bones to a large pot and bring to a low simmer, skimming periodically until no more foam is produced. Add the halved onion, quartered tomato, halved carrots, and the bay leaves and continue simmering slowly until the vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes. Check the seasonings and add beef bouillon cubes to taste, if needed.
  4. Remove the beef/lamb to a dish and let cool. Strain the broth through a fine-meshed sieve into a large bowl, mashing the tomato pieces to extract any remaining liquid. Return the broth to the pot and discard the vegetables.
  5. Shred the meat, discarding the bones and any fat, and add the shredded meat to the pot along with 1 c. of the cooked wheat, the hominy, the freeze-dried potato/chuño (if using), and the peas, carrots, and potatoes. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the sofrito: Heat the olive oil  in a skillet over medium-high heat, add the onion, and cook until soft and slightly golden. Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, to make a fragrant paste. Add the paste to the soup pot, stir to mix, and continue simmering the soup, covered, for 15 minutes or more to develop the flavors and ensure all vegetables are soft. If the soup seems too thick, add more water. If it needs more salt, add another bouillon cube.
  7. Serve with the sliced green onions and herbs sprinkled on top, and with plenty of crusty bread.

Recipe: Broccoletti Ripassati (Twice-Cooked Romanesco Broccoli)

12 Feb

After our visit to Sora Margherita, I found I could not get the broccoletti ripassati out of my mind. Soft, delicately sweet and nutty, redolent of roasted garlic and chilies, it was a perfect wintery comfort food, and I wanted to replicate it at home.

Broccoletti
So last week I went in search of a nice Broccolo Romanesco. It is in the Brassica oleracea family, along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, and kale. Not to be confused with regular broccoli (Brassica oleracea Italica Group), Romanesco broccoli (Brassica oleracea Botrytis Group) is bright green and pointy and has been grown in Italy for centuries. It is most closely related to cauliflower and tastes a bit like it–though it is richer and more tender. And while it is sometimes labelled “broccoflower,” it should not be confused with the other, more common “broccoflower” that looks just like a green cauliflower. By now, I’m sure you are confused…. But rest assured, if you see a swirly, pointy, highly decorative Broccolo Romanesco, you will immediately know it is the one that is not like the others.

Romanesco broccoli
And if you do see one, grab it, take it home, and make some Broccoletti Ripassati; you won’t regret it. You can it eat it as a side dish, on its own (pictured up top as an oh-so-good, next-day lunch eaten with a spoon)–or mixed into pasta with some of the cooking liquid, as is very common in Rome.

Broccoletti Ripassati

1 head Romanesco broccoli
roughly 8 c. chicken or vegetable broth (I used water and chicken bouillon cubes at slightly less than full strength)
1/4 c. olive oil, plus extra as needed
freshly ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp. chili flakes, or to taste
4 medium garlic cloves, minced–plus another 2 cloves, minced (optional)
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Preparation

1. Trim the broccoli, cut it in half, cut out the core, and separate each half into florets.
2. Bring the broth to a boil and simmer the florets in the broth until they are soft enough to be pierced with a fork–it should take less than 10 minutes.
3. Drain the florets, reserving 1 c. of the cooking water.
4.  Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and grind some black pepper over the top. Add the chili flakes, cook for about a minute, then add the 4 cloves of minced garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds while stirring, then add the broccoli and stir to coat it with the garlic.
5. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring periodically and scraping up any bits from the bottom of the skillet, until parts of the broccoli turn very slightly golden. During the course of this second cooking, the broccoli will begin to disintegrate, which is perfect.
6. If the broccoli gets too dry, add some of the reserved cooking liquid and/or olive oil. You do not want the broccoli to be either too wet or too oily; you want it to be soft, moist, and almost slow roasted.
7. Sprinkle the red wine vinegar over the broccoli and cook until the vinegar has evaporated. Add the remaining 2 cloves of minced garlic, and cook for another 5 minutes (the first batch of garlic contributes to the slow-roasted taste; this batch adds a little extra kick–but it’s optional).
8. Season to taste and serve.

Recipe: Creamy Double Mushroom Soup with Green Onions

5 Mar

Mother Nature is really letting us have it this winter; we have been hit with yet another snow storm. The government has shut down and so has my office: today is an official snow day. Being home on a day such as this, my thoughts turned to warm and comforting things such as soup. Specifically, to an earthy soup featuring two types of mushrooms and lots of green onions–hence the name. I might have called it quadruple mushroom soup because it features mushrooms four ways: dried (and soaked) mushrooms, sautéed sliced mushrooms, fresh chopped mushrooms–and sliced raw mushrooms as a garnish. This is definitely a soup for mushroom lovers, of which I am one. But it is also a good soup for anyone needing some flexibility (that would be me, too). Not enough dried mushrooms on hand? Add more of the fresh ones. Don’t like (or have) button mushrooms? Substitute portabella or another type. Use one, two, or all three of the broths suggested below. Make it vegan, or not (see below). This is a forgiving soup perfectly suited to an unforgiving day.

Mushroom Soup

Creamy Double Mushroom Soup with Green Onions
Serves 4-6

2 oz. dried mushrooms (porcini, shitake, etc.)
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
20 oz. white button mushrooms–slice half the mushrooms, finely chop the other half (save two mushrooms to slice later for garnish)
2 bunches green onions/scallions, trimmed at both ends, rinsed clean, and thinly sliced (save one green onion to slice later for garnish)
3 cloves garlic, minced
freshly ground pepper, to taste
dash of dry sherry or splash of white wine (optional)
5 c. beef broth (or veggie broth or miso broth, or combination of broths)
1 tbsp. soy sauce (optional)
pinch of sugar (about 1/2 tsp.), to taste
1 c. heavy cream (or unsweetened coconut milk or soy creamer)

Preparation
1. Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour enough boiling water over them to cover; soak for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat half the olive oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat, add the sliced white mushrooms, and sauté until they start to turn golden; remove the mushrooms from the pot and reserve.
3. Add  the remaining olive oil to the soup pot and sauté the green onions until soft. Add the minced garlic and pepper; cook for another two minutes. Add the sherry/wine (if using) and reserved sautéed mushrooms. Turn heat to low.
4. Strain the soaked mushrooms through a fine sieve, saving the dark mushroom liquid. Rinse the mushrooms twice in a small amount of water, adding the first rinse to the dark mushroom liquid and discarding the second rinse. 5. Add the rinsed mushrooms to the soup pot. Strain the saved mushroom liquid and add it to the soup pot, along with the broth, soy sauce (if using), and sugar. Turn the heat back to medium high.
6. Using an immersion blender, blend the contents of the soup pot (or blend in batches in a blender and return to pot).
7. Add the chopped mushrooms to the soup and simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the heavy cream (or coconut milk/soy creamer). Check seasonings, adding more pepper, soy sauce, or sugar as desired.
8. Serve soup in individual bowls and top with a few thin mushroom slices and a sprinkle of sliced green onions.

Recipe: Walnut-Pomegranate Dip (Muhammara)

31 Jan

In the world of dips, hummus reigns supreme–but there is another Middle Eastern dip that also has lots of protein and lots of tang, and is equally easy to make. Although, now that I think of it, I realize it’s been a while since I made my own hummus; my local grocery store now devotes entire refrigerator sections to it and I have gotten lazy. This is a sad state of affairs–because hummus is really incredibly easy to make…. But back to the Muhammara. It gets its protein from the walnuts and its tang from pomegranate molasses, which you can find in Middle Eastern and Indian grocery stories and at a certain national, upscale grocery-store chain that shall not be named. Roasted red peppers also add to the slightly sweet undertones of this dip, which deserves a spot on any appetizer palette. This recipe comes from Bon Appetit magazine.

Muhammara
Walnut-Pomegranate Dip (Muhammara)

1 c. walnuts
½ c. roasted red bell peppers from a jar, drained (reserve the liquid)
1/3 c. panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper

Preparation
1. Blend/process all ingredients until coarsely ground. (Add a bit more panko or walnuts if too thin, or roasted red pepper liquid or molasses if too thick.)

Food processor
2. Place the dip in a serving bowl. Drizzle some olive oil over the top–or for extra tang, mix together a bit of olive oil and pomegranate molasses and drizzle that instead.

Note: This is what pomegranate molasses looks like, if helpful.

PM

Recipe: Roasted Tomatoes, Onions, and Garlic with Basil

28 Jun

This year, I planted three tomato plants, which are beginning to completely take over the vegetable garden. If that weren’t enough, a fourth rogue plant sprung from the seeds of  last year’s tomatoes is giving them a run for their money. Which means I’m soon going to be faced with a bumper crop of tomatoes and the challenge of figuring out what to do with the ones I keep. This recipe is one of my all-time favorites for tomatoes, and I often serve it at brunches as an accompaniment to cold roasted meats. It is a very flexible recipe: it can be made ahead, served warm or at room temperature–and you can play around with the ingredients depending on what you have on hand. However you tweak it, it’s hard to go wrong with tomatoes, red onions, garlic, basil, and pine nuts.


Roasted Tomatoes, Onions, and Garlic with Basil
12 servings

3 lb. roma tomatoes (other smaller types work well, too)
2 large red onions, cut in half, each half cut into eight wedges
30 cloves garlic /2 bulbs, peeled (slice large cloves in half)
2/3 c. olive oil
2 tsp. sambal oelek (or sweet chilli sauce)
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. bottled pesto (or fresh, if you have it)
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. shredded fresh basil
2 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/2 c. pine nuts, toasted

Preparation

1. Heat oven to 400º.
2. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise. Place tomatoes, cut side up, in large baking dish, then nestle the onions and garlic around the tomatoes.
3. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, sambal oelek, sugar, pesto, and salt. Pour over the vegetables.
4. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until tomatoes, onions, and garlic are soft.
5. Meanwhile, dry toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium-high heat (watching carefully), until they start to turn golden. Remove them from the skillet and reserve.
6. Once the tomatoes come out of the oven, add the vinegar, herbs, and pine nuts, and mix gently. Serve warm or cold.

Recipe: Bolivian Peanut Soup with Chicken (Sopa de Mani)

3 Mar

Bolivian Peanut Soup is a one-bowl wonder, the ultimate comfort food–especially with fried potatoes and queso fresco (or the un-Latin American but perfectly substitutable feta cheese) sprinkled on top. Traditionally, the soup is made with beef bones, but I prefer to make it with small pieces of boneless chicken breast instead; chicken and peanuts have a natural affinity for each other, and chicken makes the soup a bit lighter. This can easily be made vegetarian or vegan, too, by omitting the chicken and making the soup with vegetable broth. The 1 tbsp. chili paste listed here adds a mild kick to the soup–if you like heat, add more.

Bolivian Peanut Soup with Chicken (Sopa de Mani)

1 c. roasted unsalted peanuts
3 tbsp. peanut or canola oil, divided in half
2 large boneless chicken breast halves (about 1.5 lb. total), cut into small bite-sized pieces (about 1/4 inch)
1 lg. white onion, diced
1 large carrot, coarsely grated
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. turmeric (or palillo)
1 tbsp. aji amarillo paste (yellow chili paste), available at international/Latin food markets
2 lg. potatoes, peeled and diced
6 c.  chicken broth
salt and pepper
chicken bouillon cube or powder (if needed)

Garnish
2 large potatoes, julienned, and fried in oil until golden
crumbled queso blanco (or feta)
chopped parsley or cilantro

Preparation
1. Grind the peanuts almost to a powder in a food processor (or pound them in a mortar and pestle in several batches); set aside.

Crushed peanuts

2. Heat 1.5 tbsp oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the chicken, and cook until no longer pink; remove the chicken from the pot along with any juices that may have accumulated, and keep warm.
3. Add the remaining oil to the pot, then cook the onion and carrots until the onion is soft, stirring occasionally.  Mix in the spices and aji amarillo (yellow chili) paste and cook 1-2 minutes.

One of the many brands of aji amarillo paste

4. Add the potatoes and peanuts to the pot, and stir well to coat.

Onions, carrots, potatoes, peanuts, and spices

5. Pour the broth over the vegetables, cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer about 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Blend the soup with an immersion blender (or in a standard blender, in batches, returning soup to pot after it is blended). Add chicken pieces and accumulated juices to the soup  and simmer another 15 minutes, adding a bit more broth if the soup appears thick. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and/or a chicken bouillon cube or bouillon powder if needed.


Soup, pre-garnish

6. Before serving the soup, fry potatoes until crisp; salt lightly.
7. Ladle soup into bowls, top with fried potatoes, then sprinkle with cheese and parsley (or cilantro). Serve immediately.

Recipe: Red Lentils with Coriander and Cumin (Masoor Dal)

27 Feb

The first time I ever cooked red lentils, they promptly turned yellow and fell apart–which is what they are meant to do, only I didn’t know it then. Red lentils are lentils with the hulls removed; in addition, they are also usually split in half, so they cook (and disintegrate) fairly quickly. I look forward to this transformation, because the resulting golden, buttery, and aromatic stew-like dish is the ultimate comfort food served on top of rice, or even eaten on its own.

Most dal recipes call for spices cooked in oil (a tadka) to be added to the lentils at the end of the cooking time. This recipe also calls for cooked onions, garlic, and spices to be added at the beginning, too. Mmm good. And even better because my husband made the version shown below (pictured with brown rice). This dal is great the second day because it thickens slightly and the flavors deepen, so it’s an excellent make-ahead dish.

Red Lentils with Coriander and Cumin (Masoor Dal)

1 c. red split lentils (masoor dal)
4 c. water
2 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 large onion diced
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. butter (optional)
finely chopped cilantro (optional)
fried onions (optional)

Preparation
1.  Pick over the lentils, rinse thoroughly in a fine-meshed colander, and place in a heavy-bottomed pot along with the 4 c. water. Bring to a boil over high heat and remove any foam that rises to the surface.
2. Heat the 2 tbsp. canola oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the onion and cook until it is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the coriander seeds, ginger, and turmeric, and cook for 1 more minute. Add this mixture to the lentils; set the skillet to one side for later use.
3. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook for about 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. The lentils will turn yellow as they cook and will disintegrate.
4. Toward the end of the lentils’ cooking time, heat the other 2 tbsp. oil in the same skillet over medium heat and add the cumin seeds. Let sizzle for a few seconds, then add the ground coriander and salt. Cook for 1 minute, then add the spices and oil to the lentils, along with the butter (if using). Stir to mix well.
5. Before serving, garnish with chopped cilantro and/or fried onions  if desired.

Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking.

Recipe: Citrus-Spiced Braised Red Cabbage

24 Jan

I love cabbage, that most humble of vegetables. Humble it may be, but versatile, too–and good for you, especially the red kind. With its lovely jewel tones (from a type of pigment also found in flower petals and fruits), red cabbage adds a beautiful touch of color to any meal.

This braised red cabbage is tangy and slightly sweet, featuring fresh orange juice, red wine, and  balsamic vinegar, as well as cinnamon, cloves, and caraway seed. It is a very nice accompaniment to pork or sausages, or a Thanksgiving meal–and also adds bit of zing to sandwiches. And if you are like me, you may also find yourself eating it cold, just because.


Citrus-Spiced Braised Red Cabbage

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lg. onion, cut in half through the ends, then sliced into thin strips
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
2 lb. red cabbage, any bruised outer leaves removed, cored, and sliced into strips (about 10 c.)
ground black pepper
1 c. vegetable broth
juice of one orange
3 tbsp. red wine
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Preparation
1. Heat a large, heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat and add the oil. When hot, add the onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and spices and cook for a few more minutes, stirring frequently.
2. Add the cabbage and mix well to coat with garlic and spices. Continue cooking until the cabbage has wilted, then sprinkle with black pepper to taste, and add the broth and orange juice. With the heat on medium high, cook the cabbage for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by at least half.
3. Add the wine and vinegar, and cook another 15 minutes. There should be some liquid at the bottom of the pot–but the cabbage should not be soupy. Turn up the heat if needed to allow any excess liquid to evaporate.
4. Serve immediately with a slotted spoon.

Recipe: Beef Barley Mushroom Soup

19 Jan

One thing to appreciate about winter is that it is soup weather. Take a steaming bowl of hearty soup, add a crusty baguette and a crisp salad, and you’re set: both body and soul will sigh in appreciation. This soup features some whole-grain goodness in the form of barley, plus that deeply satisfying umami taste from the beef and mushrooms. More flavor comes from searing the beef and bones (which results in the rich crusty drippings known as sucs, or also in the United States as fond). That is followed by deglazing the pot with aromatic vegetables and a dash of soy sauce until the vegetables are also golden and offering up their own richness, and then continuing to build the soup from there.

*See note below for how to make a vegetarian/vegan version of this soup.

Beef Barley Mushroom Soup
Serves 8

2-3 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lb. beef stew meat, trimmed of fat, and cut into small cubes
1 lb. beef bones
1 lg. onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 tbsp. soy sauce
8 oz.  mushrooms, diced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
freshly ground pepper
1 c. tomato puree
8 c. beef stock or broth (if using prepared stock/broth, find a low-fat, low-sodium brand)
2 c. water
2 beef bouillon cubes (optional, but if using, find a brand without MSG)
2/3 c. pearl barley
1 c. frozen corn kernels
1/2 c. frozen petite peas

chopped parsley as a garnish

Preparation

1. Heat a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Add the olive oil, and when hot, brown the meat and bones; you want to get golden-brown crusty drippings on the bottom of the pot. Remove the meat and bones and reserve.
2. Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the pot and sauté for a few minutes, stirring often to deglaze the pot (to loosen the crusty drippings), until the onions begin to soften and turn golden brown at the edges. (If the vegetable mixture gets too dry at any stage, add a tiny bit of olive oil.)
3. Add the soy sauce to the vegetables in the pot; cook for a couple minutes, then add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Add the garlic, bay leaves, and thyme, and grind a generous amount of black pepper over the vegetables; cook for three to five minutes. Add the tomato puree; mix well.
4. Return the beef and bones to the pot, add the stock/broth, the water, and the bouillon cubes (if using); bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and begin simmering the soup.
5. Meanwhile, toast the barley on a baking sheet in a 450-degree oven for about 10 minutes, checking every few minutes, until the barley is golden brown. Carefully add the barley to the soup; there will be a very satisfying hissing and bubbling when you do this. Note: this step is optional; you can also add the barely to the soup without having toasted it. But toasted barley adds a nice nutty flavor.
6. Continue simmering the soup for about 30 minutes to an hour  — until the beef and barley are tender (the timing will depend on the size of the beef cubes). If needed, skim the top of the soup during the simmering stage  to remove any extra oil. Add the corn and peas for the last 15 minutes or so of the cooking time.
7. Remove the bones and bay leaves from the soup, and discard. If the beef cubes are on the larger side, you may want to take them out of the soup once they are tender and shred them (as I did for the accompanying photo).
8. If the soup has gotten too thick, add additional water or stock/broth. Check seasonings, garnish with chopped parsley if desired, and serve immediately.

Note: To make this vegetarian/vegan, omit the beef and bones and begin with Step 2 (sauteing the onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil). Double the amount of mushrooms used in Step 3. In Step 4, add two diced potatoes to the pot (instead of the beef/bones) and substitute vegetable broth for the beef stock/broth and vegetable bouillon cubes (or some nutritional yeast) for the beef bouillon cubes. Total simmering time should be about 30 minutes.