It’s really just another nilagang baka (boiled beef and vegetables) recipe. As if I haven’t got enough when, as of last count, I have four versions in the archive already — excluding the bulalo recipe which is also boiled beef and vegetables with the distinction of featuring the marrow in the shank bones.
So, what’s the point in another boiled beef and vegetables soup? Well, it’s like this. If you’re expecting company, don’t want to spend a ton on the meal but want something that stunningly looks like it was especially cooked and plated, this is the answer. Serve something really simple, a tried and tested recipe, like boiled beef and vegetables. But go a little off-tangent with the preparation.
Traditionally, the beef are cut into chunks, a piece of bone attached to each one ideally, and the vegetables are cut into similar pieces. Rustic and homey and comforting, no doubt, but when entertaining, a little finesse won’t hurt. Get rid of the bones before serving the soup. Cut the meat and vegetables into bite-size pieces so that your guests won’t have to struggle with large pieces.
Next, instead of simmering the beef and bones in water, ditch the water and simmer the meat in broth instead. Double the richness of flavor.
Lastly, prettify the soup without going overboard. Not decorate it. Heck, who wants inedible food decoration? When I say prettify, I mean add little things that will make the dish more visually appealing — things that will add texture or flavor, or both, to it. For instance? Fine, fine thread-like pieces of onion leaves. And freshly cracked black pepper.
Boiled Beef, Cabbage and Potato Soup
- 1 kilogram beef with bones (shank or short ribs are recommended)
- 10 to 12 cups bone broth preferably homemade (that’s NOT a lot of broth — a substantial amount will evaporate during the long cooking time)
- patis (fish sauce) to taste (or use salt)
- 300 grams potatoes
- 1 head white cabbage
- onion leaves
- freshly cracked black pepper
- Cut through the meat to separate it from the bones. Cut the meat into one-inch cubes.
- Place the meat and bones in a large cooking pot. Pour in the broth. Add some salt or fish sauce. Bring to the boil. Skim off scum as it rises. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for two to two-and-a-half hours, depending on the quality of the meat. Do whatever you like while the meat cooks.
- When the meat is tender, prepare the vegetables. Peel the potatoes and cut into quarter-inch cubes. Core the cabbage and roughly chop. Add the vegetables to the pot. Bring to the boil once more. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes.
- Taste the broth and add more salt or fish sauce, as needed. Fish out the bones and discard.
- Pour the soup into a tureen.
- Cut the onion leaves into two-inch lengths. Slice the onion leaves vertically into very fine strips.
- Sprinkle the onion leaves on the soup. Add a few twists of cracked black pepper. Serve the soup hot with bread and butter on the side.