Take the beef out of the refrigerator and leave out for at least 1 hour to allow to come to room temperature. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Finely chop the onions.
Mel butter in a pan and sauté the onion and beef, adding salt and pepper.
Transfer the sautéed onions and beef to a pan, and add enough water to cover. Toss bay leaves and bring to a boil.
When it comes to a boil, skim off the scum and turn down the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 2 to 3 hours, checking occasionally, until the meat becomes fall-apart tender.
If you want to add a rich flavor, dry-roast flour in a pan until it's brown as shown in the photo above. If you're in a hurry, you can skip this step.
Add the browned flour to the pan little by little, mixing between additions. When the stew has thickened, stop adding flour. Simmer for another 15 minutes or so, while keeping an eye on it.
Add fresh cream to taste. We like to add about 100 ml of cream.
In Finland, this is eaten with mashed or boiled potatoes. It's served on Christmas day too.
Story Behind this Recipe
This is a Finnish home cooked recipe called Lihakastike. It's like beef stroganoff or beef stew. My mother-in-law taught me this recipe, and it's a family favorite now.
If you have a pressure cooker, you can reduce the cooking time. The amount of flour to add depends on how much water is added in Step 3. You can leave out the flour if you like. Thicken the soup to taste. If you like a mild creamy flavor, add some cream at the end!