If you’re sick or just in need of something very nutritious, this soup is for you. Slowly simmering the beef bones at the beginning leaves you with a broth incredibly rich in nutrients and minerals – it helps rejuvenate our bodies and is very beneficial for our blood, bones and organs. The longer you can simmer the bones, the better – I’ve done it for 12 hours before. You could also use a slow cooker and have it on low all day long.
If you prefer to use barely or lentils instead of pasta, just soak 2 cups worth in 3 cups of boiling water for the whole time the broth is cooking, and simmer in the finished broth for half an hour before adding the meat and vegetables. This soup freezes well – either in a large container or I like to put them in ziplock bags to serve one or two people for a quick weeknight meal. If you want to roast the bones on a tray at 200c for 20 minutes beforehand you can – that’ll add even more flavour.
1-1.5 kg beef bones
700-900g shin, bone in, or ox tails
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 stick celery, chopped (including leaves)
1 leek, outermost leaves removes, chopped
6 whole peppercorns
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2-3 mushrooms (optional)
3-4 cups of mixed vegetables, chopped
¾ cup chopped parsley
Handful of pasta – I use broken up spaghetti
Note: Vary the way you chop the vegetables, so you get interesting textures in the soup. For instance, I’d use whole peas, grate a kumara, cut peeled carrots into thin rings, chop celery into thin slices, finely chop pumpkin into cubes, cut cauliflower and broccoli into small florets.
To make the stock
Add the bones and the shin pieces to a large soup pot and fill the pot with water, with about an inch spare at the top. Add the apple cider vinegar (this helps bring nutrients out of the bones – you can also use lemon juice), cover with the lid bring to a very gentle simmer for 3-6 hours – 3 at the very least – depending on how much time you have. The longer the better. You could also use a slow cooker for this part and have it on low all day long.
With an hour to go, add the rest of the broth ingredients, cover and simmer for the last hour.
Remove the bones/pieces of meat with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. Strain the rest of the broth through a colander. Pick the good pieces of meat out of the colander that have fallen off the bones, and discard everything else.
Once cooled a little, pick the good meat off the bones and set aside to use for the soup. Discard the fat, bones and gristle.
At this point, you have a beautiful beef broth/stock, and your cooked pieces beef to use in the finished soup. You can either continue on with making the soup straight away, or refrigerate everything for a few hours, or a day or two, until you’re ready to use it.
To make the soup
Add the strained stock back to the soup pot with the meat, vegetables and pasta. Bring to a gentle simmer until the vegetables and pasta are just tender.
Taste and season with salt, pepper and a little chilli or cayenne pepper to taste, if you like. Stir through the parsley and 1 tbsp butter and serve in soup bowls – with toast smothered in butter!