Hearty Beef & Vegetable Soup

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 ½ pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup red wine

3 quarts beef broth

1 14 ½-ounce can diced tomatoes

2 bay leaves

1 sprig thyme

1 sprig Italian parsley

4 medium red potatoes

2 stalks celery, sliced

2 carrots, sliced

2 leeks, pale parts only, sliced

12 ounces cauliflower florets

1 cup shelled English peas

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Heat a large, heavy pot over high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Add half of the beef and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, tossing about 3 times, until crusty and brown in spots.* Using a slotted spoon, remove the beef to a plate. Sear the remaining beef in the same manner and set aside. Reduce the heat to low, add the butter and garlic, and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Stir in the flour. Add the wine and simmer, stirring, for a minute or so. Stir in the broth, return the beef to the pot, and add the tomatoes (along with their liquid), bay leaves, thyme, and parsley. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the beef is nearly tender. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into ¾-inch cubes. Add the potatoes, celery, carrots, leeks, and cauliflower to the pot, return to a boil, and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Add the peas and simmer 4 to 5 minutes more, or until they are tender. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf, thyme sprig, and parsley sprig, and skim off any fat from the surface of the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.      

 

Serves 6 to 8 as a main course. Leeks tend to be very dirty, so rinse them thoroughly after you slice them. Vary the vegetables as you like—try turnips, parsnips, pearl onions, cabbage, or whatever else may be in season. Use thawed frozen peas if fresh peas are unavailable. 

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