Thursday, January 3, 2013

Soup's On!

With temperatures taking a dive and the ground covered by snow I find that soups and stews - along with an occasional chili - enter in to my menu rotation more frequently. They can be complex (using bones and vegetables to first make a stock) or as simple as I want them to be or have time for them to be, they're almost always more healthy than what I could buy  in the store, and I usually have leftovers for another meal.

When I think of soups for comfort chicken noodle always comes to mind, but so does beef with barley soup. I made this soup for the fist time a few weeks back and it was an instant hit not only with The Other Half, but with The Oldest and The Munchkin as well. Most of the time I don't work with a recipe - I go with what sounds good or pull from different recipes to create my own. What's below is a combination of the two. Serve hot, fresh from the pot with a green salad and hot crusty Italian bread and enjoy!

Joy's Homemade Beef and Barley Soup with Mushrooms
2c carrots, peeled and sliced
2c celery, sliced
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 package baby bella mushrooms, sliced thick

3 or 4 generous sprigs of fresh thyme
3 bay leaves

1.5 lbs of beef stew/soup meat
soup bones (I've purchased soup bones from my grocery, but have also bought a cut with a bone that would be good for soup)

olive oil
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
splash of red wine
(optional: Worcestershire sauce)

12-16c beef stock/broth (I use 3 tubs of Knorr homestyle stock and 12 cups of water)
 1c pearlized barley, rinsed and cooked according to directions

1. Heat olive oil in large, sturdy stock pot, over medium high heat. Add soup/stew meat, sprinkle with salt and pepper and brown all sides. Remove with slotted spoon and set to the side. Add the soup bones/cut of beef and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown on both sides, then remove and add to the stew/soup meat.

2. Add onions and saute until turning translucent and slightly brown. Add carrots, celery and saute 3-5 minutes or until slightly soft. Add garlic and saute until fragrant. 

3. Deglaze bottom of the pot by using a splash of red wine and a bit of Worcestershire sauce if desired. Add stock, sprigs of thyme, bay leaves and meat/bones. Bring to a rapid boil and then reduce heat bringing to a simmer. Simmer 1 hour, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

4. Cook barley according to directions and set aside once done

5. At 1 hour, add mushrooms and simmer another 30 before adding in barley. 

6. Remove soup bones/cut of beef. Add cooked barley and stir in. As barley simmers with soup, pick beef (discarding fatty parts) off the bone and add to the pot. Serve immediately!

The soup will thicken some when you add the barley. If you need to, add salt and pepper to taste.

If you try this recipe and like it, or if you try it and make modifications please leave me a note and let me know as I'm always seeking ways to improve!

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