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STEAK & TOMATO
BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY GREEN BEANS
When I was in elementary school, I had a best friend whom I spent every single day with. We essentially lived together between our two houses. One night I had dinner with her and her mom at her house as I had done 100 times. Her mom, Lori, made something that they called steak and tomatoes. It was strips of steak with green beans stewed in tomato sauce and it was a regular dinner in their household. It blew my mind. For some reason it was a revelation to me and it’s one of those food memories that I have been chasing for over 20 years. That’s what this soup is serving. It’s 1997 at Merisa’s house on Silver Creek Road.
STEAK & TOMATO with GREEN BEAN
Serves 5 or 2 for 5 days
3 lbs. chuck roast
2 yellow onions, diced
2 scallions, diced
6 garlic cloves, smashed
1 lemon, halved
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 28-oz. cans whole tomatoes
2–4 cups chicken or beef broth
1 lb. fresh green beans, halved
4 carrots, sliced into coins
1 cup pastina
Season your roast with salt 12–24 hours in advance. In a Dutch oven on high heat brown the roast on all sides. Remove from the pot and set aside. Turn the heat to medium and add onions, scallions, garlic, and lemon to the pot and sauté until translucent. Remove the lemon and set aside. Add the roast back into the pot and pour the tomatoes and chicken broth over it. Stir to incorporate the onions and garlic. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 2–4 hours or until the roast is tender and easily breaks apart. Using tongs or two forks, break up the roast into large, spoon-sized pieces. Add the green beans and carrots and simmer until tender. Turn the heat off. Squeeze the lemon over the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a separate pot of salted water, boil the pastina, and add it into the soup using a mesh strainer. Finish with olive oil, fresh cracked pepper, parmesan, and herbs. Any tender herb will work.
This soup will work well with a number of adaptations. Chuck roast is not mandatory, but it is accessible and affordable. Obviously, as with most things, it would be made better with a higher quality and more expensive ingredient like round or short rib. Alternatively, feel free to use your leftovers from a recent steak dinner.
Use any small pasta. Pastina, ditalini, and acini de pepe will all work well. You also don’t have to use any pasta at all. You’ll find that it is perfectly soupy before the noodles are added, and if you are feeling impatient, just enjoy it at that stage.
I have always heard writers talk about how difficult writing is and they ain’t lyin’. For me, it is not necessarily the process of it, but the sitting down to do it. Writing is one of my favorite things to do, but it is so easy to say “no” to. I find it odd how something so enjoyable and truly liberating is so arduous to begin, and so easy to set aside in favor of literally anything else. I know a lot of people, including my copy editor, are saying, “Yeah duh,” but here I am discovering it for the first time. How fun! That is to say that this newsletter is one of my favorite things to come out of brothmonger, and I love writing it so much. So, thank you for being here.
Lately it’s been difficult to complete almost any responsibility. It might be the lingering-on of winter. I often hear people blame these things on the cosmos, and while I generally don’t subscribe to that hoopla, I’d like to take this opportunity to scapegoat Mercury. I know I’m not alone in this malaise, but there is one hopeful thing that is always true—soup helps.