Jerusalem is one of those cookbooks I could page through for hours - gorgeous photos, interesting writing, and delicious-sounding recipes. I had a hard time deciding what to make first, but this tasty stew eventually won out! As with many stew recipes, don't underestimate the amount of time you need to brown the beef - it's a totally necessary step for getting that yummy browned flavor on the meat, and it's never particularly fun (lots of time spent standing over a hot skillet or soup pot). But - the work is totally worth it, because this soup is really delicious. The spice combination is really tasty, and the whole garlic cloves get mellow and savory after a long simmer with the beef and vegetables. I also loved the hit of lemon juice added at the end - it adds a fantastic acidity that really brings all the flavors together. The only thing that didn't work here for me was the celery root - not sure if I prepared it wrong (this was my first time using it), but even after peeling and cooking, it was very fibrous and tough to eat. Any tips from celery root experts out there?
Israeli Beef and Bean Stew (adapted from Jerusalem)
1 small onion, minced
1 small celery root, peeled and diced
20 large garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed but left whole
1 tsp ground cumin
1 pound beef stew meat
7 cups water
1/2 cup dried Hutterite Soup Beans or another dried bean, soaked overnight and then drained
7 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 T tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
9-10 ounces small potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon juice, to serve
Fresh cilantro, chopped
1. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Add a little bit of oil, and wait a minute or so for it to get hot. Add the onion and celery root, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to brown. Add the garlic and cumin, and cook for another 5 minutes or so.
2. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add a little oil to the bottom, and wait a minute or so for it to get hot. Add the beef, and brown on at least two sides (more if you have time). When the meat is browned, add the water, soup beans, cardamom pods, turmeric, tomato paste, and sugar. Also add in the onion-garlic mixture. Stir everything together, bring to a boil, and cover. Reduce to a simmer, and cook 1 hour.
3. Add the potatoes, along with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Bring back to a boil, and then simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered, until the potatoes and beans are tender. The soup should be fairly thick - if not, you can reduce it more on the stove, or add water if the soup seems too thick for your liking. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
4. Ladle the soup into bowls, and then serve each portion with a little lemon juice squeezed over and cilantro sprinkled on top.