Thursday, December 16, 2010

Beef Barley Vegetable Soup



The winter chill has arrived and I was hungry for a brothy soup that was more like a meal rather than a starter.  I had about 1 ½ pounds of leftover pot roast in the fridge so I decided to use it as my base. 

Beef barley soup seemed like the optimal choice, a hearty vegetable soup with a beefy background and the bonus of barley which is known for its high fiber content (bonus) and adds a deliciously chewy touch to this soup.


My notes to you...
I like to add my potatoes in the last 15 – 20 minutes of cooking so that they stay whole and don’t dissolve into the soup.

Having leftover beef (any type) is the easiest way to whip together a quick batch of soup since the beef is already cooked and tender.  But you can start with raw beef which is easy enough however it will take a little longer to cook.

Right after the soup is cooked it will appear as if there isn’t enough barley in the soup.  As it sits or becomes leftovers the barley will swell.  So don’t be surprised at how much the barley will absorb.

I add a bay leaf to my soup but I don’t add any other herbs.  If you are feeling herby the best fresh or dried herbs to add to this soup is thyme or herbs de province.  I would add no more than ¼ tsp. dried or 1 tsp. of fresh or it will overpower the soup.  A handful of fresh parsley roughly chopped just before serving is also an option that gives your soup a clean fresh finish.

BEEF BARLEY SOUP

1          pound              leftover beef, diced or 1 ½ pounds raw chuck or sirloin

1          large                onion, chopped small
2          large                celery, chopped small
1          large                clove garlic, minced
2          14oz cans        beef broth
1          14oz can         stewed tomatoes
4          cups                water
½         cup                  pearl barley
2          large                carrots, diced
2          large                potatoes, diced
½         pound              frozen green beans, I like Trader Joes
1          whole               bay leaf
2          tsp.                  kosher salt
½         tsp.                  black pepper

LEFTOVER BEEF:
Saute the onions, celery and garlic in a large soup pot over med heat with 2 Tbsp. oil; cook until onions are soft.  Add broth, tomatoes, water, barley, carrots, bay leaf, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and turn down to med-low heat and cover; cook until barley is tender (about 30 minutes).  Add potatoes and cook for another 15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked.  Add leftover beef and green beans; bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes to heat through.

RAW BEEF:
Cut beef into small cubes and season with salt and pepper.  Heat a large soup pot over med-high heat and brown the beef cubes.  When the beef is browned; add the onions, celery and garlic; cook until onions are soft.  Add broth, tomatoes, water, barley, carrots, bay leaf, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and turn down to med-low heat and cover; cook until beef and barley are tender (about 30 - 45 minutes).  Add potatoes and cook for another 15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked.  Add green beans; bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes to heat through.

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