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Cool winter nights call for a hearty bowl of soup. This recipe begins with a rich homemade stock, suggesting an equally rich and hearty awarding-winning local red wine.

Vegetable beef soup

Makes about 3 quarts

2 lb. beef ribs or shanks with meat

8 c. water

1 medium potato, diced into ½-inch cubes

1 medium onion, chopped

3 stalks celery, thinly sliced

1 carrot, thinly sliced

1 lb. tomatoes, diced

12 oz. fresh cut green beans, or frozen

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

¼ tsp. coarsely ground pepper

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

In a stock pot or Dutch oven, place ribs (or shanks) in water and boil for at least an hour. Remove ribs and let cool.

Add potato, onions, celery, carrot, tomatoes, green beans, spices and bay leaves to soup stock and simmer for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Remove meat from beef bones, remove any cartilage or excess fat, chop into bite-size pieces and add to stock pot.

Remove from heat, remove bay leaves, add Worcestershire Sauce and stir. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve with your favorite artisan bread. 

Pair this heartwarming soup with Dierberg and Star Lane Vineyard’s Three Saints 2015 Happy Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon. 2015 was an interesting vintage. After plentifully yielding years between 2012 and 2014, the vines seemed content to produce fewer clusters. In May, they experienced one of the coldest weather patterns in over a decade during flowering, reducing the number of berries that set, producing very low yields. The season progressed fairly normally and was early, while the harvest brought several heat spells putting pressure on pick dates.

The vintage is concentrated, fresh and limited. Years of drought also impacted total yields. However, the drought also helped to produce complex layers of flavor at fresher and elegant textures. The cabernet sauvignon was more forward and available in barrel and should help make this wine expressive in its youth. A bit more fruit forward than previous bottlings, there are still hints of fresh sage and spice amidst the red, ripe fruits. The texture is sweet at the entry but has plenty of texture and freshness at the close of the mouth feel making this a very enjoyable wine in its youth.

Or try Santa Barbara Winery’s 2014 Happy Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon. This 2014 vintage is from a low vigorous block on the Los Padres side of Highway 154. The unique factors and microclimate of Happy Canyon make this area suitable for producing Bordeaux varietals with concentrated flavors and a ripe fruit quality that has been difficult to achieve in the cooler areas of Santa Barbara County. This vintage went through an extended maceration process of 50 days to develop the tannin structure, producing more persistence of flavor. Winner of 2017 Double Gold Medal -- Texas Consumer Wine Judging.

Enjoy!

John David Finley is a freelance writer and author of the cookbook "Sacred Meals from our Family Table," which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at sacredmeals@comcast.net.

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