I knew I wanted to start off the week with this beef and barley soup post but yesterday I started to get nervous. It was above zero, sunny, the birds with singing… do people still want hearty soups to eat at this time of year? I woke up this morning frozen and the snow has returned, hiding away all signs of spring. What a tease! At least my sharing this recipe from the cookbook Sunday Soup by Betty Rosbottom published by Chronicle Books may not appear to be unseasonable.
The original recipe makes enough for eight people which seems ridiculous. I divided it in half and will share the recipe for a serving of four. Who cooks for eight people???
I love beef and barley soup! It is one of my ultimate comfort foods in the winter and I promise this soup is worth it and the beef does literally melt in your mouth. What better way to use Canadian beef? This recipe is definitely Eat, Write, Retreat worthy.
Pat two pounds of cubed stewing beef (fat removed) with paper towel to make sure it is very dry. Coat the bottom of a large Dutch oven with olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Brown meat on all sides in batches, making sure they have lots of room around each piece. I decided to season a little as I go with kosher salt and black pepper. Transfer meat to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Keep going until all the meat is done and add more oil if it gets dry. Remove all meat.
Add 4 cups of low sodium beef stock, a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 tsp soy sauce. The author adds 1/2 tsp of kosher salt at this point but as I said, I prefer to season everything a little as I go so do what you prefer.
It is important to scrape up the brown bits off the bottom of the pan which is hard to do with a spoon so I prefer to use a flat bottom olive wooden spatula, works like a charm. Return meat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook 1 1/2 carrots, peeled, halved and cut into 1/4″ thick slices, 1 1/2 ribs of celery, halved and cut into 1/4″ thick slices and 1 small onion, coarsely chopped. The author also adds 1 medium parsnip but I did not have any but if you do, add some. Remove veggies and set aside.
In 1 tbsp of oil that has been warmed up over medium-high heat add 4 ounces of sliced white mushrooms. I have no idea if that is 4 ounces worth, I just love mushrooms so I sauteed a bunch. Cook both batches of veggies for about 5 minutes each. I seasoned both batches lightly with salt and pepper.
After the meat has cooked for 1 1/2 hours add the sauteed veggies (hold the mushrooms), 1 cubed potato (I used two small potatoes), 1/2 cup of pearl barley, and 2 tsp of fresh chopped thyme (or 1/2 tsp of dried). You are supposed to bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 45-60 minutes but I obviously did not have enough broth.
I added more, just enough to cover everything and give the barley something to soak up.
Perfect! Well, the potatoes were a bit too big so I broke them down a little with a wooden spoon. I added the mushrooms and heated everything through for a couple of minutes.
This recipe absolutely lives up to its name, this definitely melted in your mouth and gets even better the next day! It was also perfectly seasoned, LOL. This was absolutely the best beef and barley soup I have ever had! In truth, it ends up being more of a stew than a thin soup but for a cold day, nothing is more filling and fabulous.
I give this recipe five out of five wooden spoons!