Okay, it isn’t officially autumn yet. It sure as hell doesn’t feel like it here in the Rio Grande Valley, But Fall is my favorite time of year, dammit, and I will be attaching a wreath to the door that signifies my love of the season. I will be purchasing pumpkins in all shapes, sizes and colors to adorn my home and I will be drawing from my collection of pumpkin recipes that will fill my home with the heady aromas that ARE autumn.
I’ve already begun my regular autumn soup regimen. I began by scouring the freezers for “Cook-all-Day” venison and pork. These are the scraps of neck meat and sinewy forequarter bits that we didn’t grind. When cooked all day, these “cuts” of meat are perfect for soups, stews, enchiladas, etc. I always cook up about 10+ pounds at a time. This cooked meat becomes so tender, it will shred easily and can be packaged up in one-pound amounts and frozen to be used in countless recipes. The broth and meat juices are a delicious addition to any soup.
I recently experimented with an old favorite, venison soup. I wanted to make it just a little heartier. I’d never cooked with barley before and was eager to try it. It was a huge success. Deerslayer loved it and asked for seconds and thirds. Junior Deerslayer loved it, too. So, here it is! Prepare to be loved and appreciated!
Venison and Barley Soup
1 chopped onion
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
64 oz. beef stock
1 cup dried barley
1 pound cook-all-day venison and/or pork*
plenty of the gelatinous goodness (at least a cup taken from the roasting pan)
1 cup frozen peas
corn cut from one ear (or about 2/3 cup canned)
In a large soup pot, saute’ chopped onion in olive oil. When onion is transparent, add carrots, celery, bay leaves, and thyme. Stir for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add stock. Bring to a boil. Add barley and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add meat, peas, and corn. Simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with herbed mozzarella toast.
* See “Come and Take It”
Herbed Mozzarella Toast
several small mozzarella balls in herbed olive oil
Cut baguette into several ovals. Drain mozzarella balls and cut in half. Arrange several on each baguette slice, about 3 depending on the size of the baguette. Place baguette slices with cheese on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler until toasted and bubbly. Serve with Venison Barley Soup.