I love brisket and have been waiting during the summer month to cook something, anything that was stewed, braised or soup-ish. So this brisket soup by Melissa Clark in the New York Times wherein the brisket would cook low and slow, was looking mighty good to me. And with a very simple, and familiar flavor profile (basically the veg you’d put into a chicken soup), this recipe seemed like an easy win.I say seemed because although not a disappointment, this soup didn’t enter my personal pantheon of recipes like Melissa Clark's brisket with wine and plums did last year.
*Here’s that food allergy free recipe of brisket and plums and here’s the original New York Times recipe of brisket with port and plums.*
So regarding the Brisket Soup, here's the great:
- Top Eight Allergen-Free. Super.
- Uses water, no prepared stocks. Great.
- Uses vegetables I have in the pantry. Yay.
- The only thing I needed was brisket. Easy.
The less great aspects of the Brisket Soup recipe:
- The meat wasn’t "spoon-tender" -- After two hours or cooking, as the recipe indicated. That can happen with brisket; I’ve seen recipes call for three hours when it really needed six to be falling apart delicious.
- The vegetables were mush -- As I needed to cook the soup another hour plus to approach spoon-tender, by that time, the veggies were complete mush, which is not particularly pleasant.
- I didn’t add barley, as the recipe called for [I'm wheat intolerant, not gluten- intolerant but still I didn't add it.] -- So the soup was thin, which I expected. But I think I wanted it to be lusciously thick and stew-y looking, like in the New York Times Brisket Soup video. The end result was what I expected (thin) but I didn’t feel excited about it. It needs something to give it more body or at least concentrate the flavors further.
- The flavor was very mild. Not a negative but it didn’t taste very specific. To me, it tastes like chicken soup with brisket instead of chicken.
- And after over four hours including cooking and prep, I realized I’d rather end up with a gorgeous braised meat dish that's falling apart versus just a soup.
Yup. It felt like all that and I’ve only got a soup. Perhaps I had a more emotional response to the dish versus a real quibble with the recipe. Maybe when it comes to soups, I’ll stick with a hearty vegan bean (like this sweet potato and lentil soup, or this Caprese lentil soup or this white bean and escarole soup) and keep the meats to a braise.
Or I'll make some modifications. See below.
- Brisket Soup
- Adapted from the New York Times
- 3 pounds brisket, fat trimmed, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt, more as needed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, more as needed
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
- 3 leeks, thinly sliced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1. Season brisket with 1 tablespoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- 2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add brisket in batches and cook, turning occasionally, until well-browned, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Drizzle in additional oil if pan seems dry. Transfer browned meat to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Add leek, celery and garlic to pan; cook until soft, about 7 minutes.
- 3. Return meat to pot. Pour in 12 cups water, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring liquid to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, part covered, for 1 hour. Stir in carrots, parsnips and remaining 1/2 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, uncovered, until meat is tender, 1 to 2 hours more. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
*UPDATE & RECIPE NOTES*
I upped the size of the cut veggies, if cut too small, they disappear. But you can cut any way you like.
I added cooked fingerling potatoes when I reheated the soup and that really changed the whole soup.
When I heated it up, giving it a quick boil (i.e. reducing the soup, concentrating flavors and tenderizing meat) for about ten minutes, that made the soup way better.
Brisket is usually better the second or third day. This soup reheated gets kinda magical.
Next up: Mark Bittman’s braised lamb with prunes.