I've been craving a beef based soup lately, and several sources have reminded me of the great combination of beef and barley. I decided to give it a whirl, following Budget Bytes' recipe most closely.
The best parts about this soup: by cooking the stew meat first, everything was flavored with its drippings; because the barley's starch began to break down and thicken the soup, no thickening agent was needed to make this almost stew-like; and finally, adding the potatoes in at the end prevented them from getting too mushy. It is an all around hearty winter soup.
Ingredients (makes 5-6 servings)
- olive oil
- 1 lb stew meat, cut into small pieces
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic, diced
- 4 small stalks OR 2 large stalks celery, sliced
- small bunch carrots, sliced
- pinch dried thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small package (about 10 oz) white mushrooms, sliced
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 6 cups beef stock (I used Better Than Bouillon's beef base in 6 cups water)
- 1 cup dried barley
- 1 lb small red potatoes, chopped into bite size pieces
- Heat a small amount of olive oil in large stockpot over medium heat. Add stew meat and cook until browned. Transfer to separate bowl and set aside, leaving drippings in stockpot.
- Drizzle more olive oil into stockpot. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions have softened.
- Add celery, carrots, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook for 4-5 minutes, adding a splash of water if vegetables start to stick or burn.
- Add mushrooms. Continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes.
- Clear a little spot and add tomato paste. Cook until paste heats up, then gradually stir it into juices and vegetables.
- Add cooked meat back into stockpot, along with beef stock and barley. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover; simmer for 40 minutes.
- Add potatoes and simmer, covered, for another 10-15 minutes.