I had no plans to make this soup… it picked me.
That’s usually how my posts go. I was drafting a tutorial on how to cook brown rice (boring?) but when I went digging around for the rice, I got distracted by a little packet of barley. Oh, I remember this… total impulse buy due to super cute packaging labeled ‘ready in 10 minutes.’ Beef and barley soup it is.
Quite frankly, I couldn’t think of anything else to make at the time. There are several types of barley (see this article) and they are all very good for you. Coupled with flavorful veggies and tender meat, this soup is a brothy version of beef stew. The red bell pepper and butternut squash add incredible flavor and a festive punch of color too (anything stew-like can look a bit drab, don’t you think?) If you’re looking for a hearty, melt-in-your mouth soup, I think you’re going to like this one.
Oh, and get ready for a boring brown rice tutorial ;)
- When choosing beef, bypass the pre-cut cubes and go for a whole piece of beef chuck. It’s less expensive and has better marbling (which adds more flavor).
- If you are making this in advance, skim away the fat only after the soup has been refrigerated. It will solidify and float to the top, making it easier to remove.
I like to serve this with hot pickled chili peppers (the vinegary kind that comes in the jar). It’s really, really good!
- 1 lb. beef chuck steak (whole)
- 2 leeks, white & light green part only
- 1 c. carrots
- 2 celery ribs
- 10 oz. mushrooms (1 pack)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 c. butternut squash
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp. rosemary leaves
- 1 heaped tbsp. flour
- ¾ c. pearl barley (I used quick cook)
- 2-3 quarts of good quality beef stock
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley + sprigs
- hot pickled chili peppers
- parmesan cheese
- In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil over moderate heat.
- Cut your beef into bite-sized cubes. Season with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off any excess as you go.
- Add the beef to the pot and brown on all sides (you might have to do this in batches). Using a slotted spoon, remove and transfer to a plate. Set aside.
- Roughly chop the first 6 vegetables and thinly slice your garlic.
- Saute the leeks, carrots, celery, and mushrooms until soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10-12 minutes.
- Add the rest of the vegetables, garlic, and rosemary leaves.
- Add the beef back to the pot.
- Pour in just enough beef stock to cover, about 11/2- 2 quarts. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer (lid on) for about 1½ hours.
- Using a small ladle, skim away any fat on the surface. *See note below.
- Add the barley. Depending on what kind of barley you are using, cooking time will vary. I used the 'quick cook' variety which was ready in 10 minutes. Add more stock if necessary.
- Taste your soup. If the meat is very tender, it is ready.
- Add the chopped parsley and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve with parsley sprigs, hot pickled chili peppers, and parmesan cheese (if desired).