Saturday, March 12, 2011

Preserving the Harvest-Beef and Barley Soup

I find that there is something extremely rewarding and comforting about making something completely from scratch. It makes me feel like I have reached back to the time of Laura Ingalls, when life was simple. A time when I believe people led richer, fuller lives. We weren't so bombarded with Who's who, Who's dating who, and Who's in rehab. I believe people were healthier, because their food wasn't in-part or in-whole prepared in a factory and kept fresh by the addition of 23 multi-syllable words that no one really knows the definition of.
There is a certain thrill I get when I whip up a homemade batch of apricot jam and distribute it to friends and family. Or bringing a cake to a bake sale and having people incredulously ask, "You MADE that? Without a mix?" Or the wonderful feeling I get when I pull a warm loaf of 9-grain whole wheat bread out of the oven and slathering it with peanut butter for my little men to enjoy.
As a teenager, I enjoyed making home remedies-tinctures, face creams, teas, and medicines. I foraged for wild herbs and flowers and used them to flavor teas and scent bath salts. I found that some people had the right idea with some of these natural things. I even considered starting an Internet business. That sort of fell to the wayside, but my passion for returning to the simpler ways remained. After I was married, I began trying different things at home. My mom has always been a good cook, and one of her specialties was homemade candy. Watching her make that made me realize that most things we buy in the store can be made at home. I also realized something else-homemade candy was far better than anything we could find in the store. Even candy shops didn't carry things as good as my mom's homemade toffee and fudge.
I also recalled my grandma making homemade jams and jellies, and I never thought of it as being difficult. I think that's the secret to these homemade things. Don't let them intimidate you! This recipe came about from one of these moments of reflection. I have wanted to experiment with canning and storing soups, so one day, I just decided to try it out.

makes 5 32. oz jars

16 cups water
10 tablespoons beef bouillon
4 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped green beans
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
three cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup chopped parsley
4 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
1 lb pearl barley, washed and picked through
2 tbsp butter

Zucchini, summer squash, peas and corn could also be added in place of any listed vegetables.

Saute carrots and onions in butter for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute and additional two minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer 35-45 minutes, or until barley is cooked to desired doneness.
This is condensed soup. It should be prepared with additional water. (add 1 jar water for 1 jar soup)
Ladle into prepared canning jars, seal according to canning directions, process with a pressure canner and store.

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