Chunky Beef Soup
½ lb. dried large lima beans (about 1 c.), picked over and rinsed
3 lb. meaty crosscut beef shanks (also called beef shins; 2 inches thick), trimmed of excess fat
¼ t. black pepper
1﻿½ t. salt
2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 carrots, halved lengthwise, then cut diagonally into 1﻿½-inch pieces
12 c. water
3﻿½ c. low-sodium beef broth (28 fl oz.)
1 lb. yellow-fleshed potatoes such as Yukon Gold
1 (14-oz.) can diced tomatoes in juice
¼ lb. Savoy cabbage, tough stems discarded and leaves coarsely chopped
¼ lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Soak beans in cold water to cover by 2 inches in a bowl at room temperature at least 8 hours. Drain in a colander.
Pat shanks dry and sprinkle with pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. Heat oil in a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown shanks (in batches if necessary), turning, about 6 minutes total, and transfer with tongs to a bowl.
Cook onion in fat remaining in pot over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add browned meat along with any juices accumulated in bowl, carrots, 8 c. water, beef broth and remaining ½ t. salt and simmer, covered, until meat is very tender, about 1﻿½ hours.
Remove shanks with a slotted spoon and transfer to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, cut meat into 1-inch pieces, discarding bones, and return meat to soup.
Meanwhile, simmer lima beans in remaining 4 cups water in a 4-quart saucepan, covered, until just tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain in colander.
Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes, then add to soup with lima beans and tomatoes with their juice and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add cabbage and green beans and simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 5 minutes. Makes 8-10 main course servings.
Creamy Tomato Soup
¼ c. (½ stick) unsalted butter
10 sprigs thyme, tied together
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼ c. tomato paste
2 28-oz. cans whole tomatoes
½ t. sugar, divided
¼ c. (or more) heavy cream
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Melt butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add thyme, onion, and garlic. Cook until onion is completely soft and translucent, 10-12 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; add tomato paste. Continue cooking, stirring often, until paste has begun to caramelize in spots, 5-6 minutes.
Add tomatoes with juices, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 8 cups water to pot. Increase heat to high; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer until flavors meld and soup reduces to about 2 quarts (8 cups), 45-55 minutes. Remove soup from heat; let cool slightly. Discard thyme sprigs. Working in small batches, purée soup in a blender until smooth. Return to pot. DO AHEAD: Soup can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool slightly, cover and chill. Rewarm before continuing.
Stir in ¼ cup cream. Simmer soup until flavors meld, 10-15 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon sugar. Add more cream, if desired.