Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Last Soup Recipe of the Winter: Beef and Barley Soup

My month of soup and muffin recipes is coming to a close. I think the worst part of the winter is over. My proof of this is when I went out the door this morning to get Thing 1 to school, I could smell skunk so it's really only a matter of time. We are supposed to get a huge snow storm this week but I think it's the last hurrah, if you know what I mean.

And so, the need for a big pot of soup won't be so great as we progress into warmer weather.

So let me give you an easy beef and barley soup recipe. This is another good one for the crock pot as barley needs to absorb lots of moisture to soften properly. That doesn't mean you can't make it on the stove top but be prepared to let it simmer for a few hours to get an edible texture.

For my soup, I am using a pearled barley. It's about $.85 for a pound bag, which would easily make two big pots of soup.

Remember when we talked about mirepoix? This is another soup that gathers its flavors from the blend of carrots, onions and celery.

You will need:

1 heaping cup of pearled barley (this is about half a pound bag)
3-4 carrots, diced
1 small onion or 1/2 medium onion, diced
2-3 stalks of celery, diced
1 can diced tomatoes, optional (if you don't use the tomatoes, the soup needs a dash of acid, like a bit of lemon juice or vinegar to balance the flavor)
6-8 cups water with 6 bullion cubes (beef or vegetable) OR 6-8 cups of beef or vegetable stock
1 pound of stew meat or beef tips
salt and pepper to taste; parsley

I like to sear my beef in a skillet first to give it a nice caramelization on the outside instead of just boiled meat. After searing the beef and removing from the skillet, though, I add about a half-cup of the stock or water to the pan to deglaze any of the little bits of flavor that are stuck to the pan. You really don't want to lose them.

To the crock pot, add the broth/water, followed by the veggies, the meat and the barley. Cover and let cook on low for 4+ hours or on high for 2+ hours. Stir occasionally and taste once everything is warmed up to see if you need a bit of this or that for the flavor. As I said, if you don't use the tomatoes, add a bit of acid to balance out the flavor. I used a dash of balsamic vinegar this time because I was also using beef stock so it seemed to work well but that's just me.

When the barley softens, it will also add starch to the soup which thickens the soup a bit so if you would like more broth, add a bit of water as you go.

The soup is done when the vegetables are pleasantly soft and the barley is soft and kind of creamy.

1 comment:

Principalk said...

Build me up buttercup, just to let me down. Okay maybe YOUR winter is coming to an end, but mine is not. MORE SOUP, you soup nazi.
By the way, Chris absolutely loved the corn chowder. He said it was like being in a great restaurant and wanting more than the little cup gives you. Needless to say there were no leftovers. Thanks for the great recipes all of the time.