Monday, March 12, 2012

Beef Barley Soup -- so warm and hearty

As of late, everyone in our household has been sick.  Nothing awful.  I think we are going on our third week of one illness or another.  We keep passing it around.  Our home is calling for a soup night. I thought I would try to make beef barley.  My grandmother (my Dad's mother) used to make beef barley soup with ground beef, but I thought I would try to make it with stew meat. 

Beef barley soup was my brother's favorite recipe that my grandmother used to make.  One night at her house was particularly memorable.  We all sat down to eat her beef barley soup and were enjoying it. As when any good meal is put on the table, everyone stopped talking and started eating.  Above the sound of our slurping, we could barley hear my baby brother say, "if this is beef barley soup, where is the barley grandma?"  It was at that point everyone started searching for the barley in his bowl as if looking for the lost treasure of the Seven Seas.  We all quickly came to the conclusion that my grandmother had forgotten the barley. For years to come, it was always a great story to relive and retell.  So when making the beef barley soup, you can use ground beef or stew meat, but don't forget the barley.  Maybe that is only a funny joke in my family. 

Now I don't know my grandmother's recipe, but here is my version of beef barley soup. The soup turned out warm, hearty, and yummy.  Here is how I made it.

Hearty Beef Barley Soup


olive oil (the start of most wonderful recipes)
4 lbs. Beef Stew chunks (cut into small bite sized pieces)
1 medium onion
2-3 carrots
2 celery stalks
2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper
1 box chicken stock
8 cups of water
6 chicken bullion cubes
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
2-3 bay leaves
cheese rind (don't need this, but if you have it use it)
2-3 red potatoes
1 cup medium barley
3 cups or so of frozen veggie mix


Heat some olive oil in a stock pot.  Cut stew meat into small soup sized pieces. Brown the meat.  Salt and pepper after the meat is brown.  There will be a liquid at the bottom of your pot -- this is fine and only adds to the flavor of the soup.  Add chopped onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Add some salt and pepper.  *mommy hint - salt and pepper after each section of steps to build flavors. Add one box of chicken stock, 8 cups of water, and 6 chicken bullion cubes. *mommy hint - I  know many people would use beef stock and beef bullion, but I just wanted to use what I had in the house. And it worked just fine;  plus I prefer chicken stock to beef stock. But if you like beef stock better, use it.  Continue to add layers of flavors.  Add one can of diced tomatoes, bay leaves, diced potatoes, and one cup of barley. If you have a cheese rind this is the time to add it; if you don't just skip this step you will  not miss it.  *mommy hint - I always have cheese rinds in my freezer for the express purpose of making soups.  It adds a saltiness to the background of the soup.  It is not needed; it is just a little secret my Nonna (my mom's mother) taught me.  Simmer for 1 hour.  Then after the barley has been cooked, add 3 cups or so of your favorite frozen veggie mix.  Bring to boil again and serve.  So filling and yummy.  Enjoy.

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