A Chilly Day and a Bowl of Beef and Barley Soup

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on October 19, 2010

I consider myself a Southern European… I have never had the opportunity to live in Southern Europe, but my family heritage is Greek on both sides and I am a real hater when it comes to the cold weather. It is chilly days like these that the warm breezes and crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean beckon me to return to my homeland. I am not a cold weather person and I find it ironic that I was married to a Swede for more years than I care to remember. During our entire marriage, he would torture me about my lack of interest in trying winter activities. I finally gave in and agreed to go skiing with him and a group of colleagues in Ithaca, New York. I had gone skiing once before with a group of friends in Pennsylvania and really enjoyed that trip, since most of us were beginners and stayed on the beginner slopes…but this was different. He took me to the highest peak on top of a snowy mountain with snow mounds everywhere, and left me to find my own way down. Thank God for chair lifts, which I promptly jumped on and spent the rest of the time in the lodge by the fire, reading my book and drinking hot chocolate. I think I enjoyed myself more…The only thing that I find comforting about the impending cold weather is the hearty, stick to your ribs food that is served up during the season and the bulky clothes that hide all of those extra calories…that’s it.

Today was one of those chilly days and a perfect day for soup…and not just any soup, but a beef and barley soup that craved crusty bread to sop up all of those delicious flavors that developed quickly after only simmering for an hour and a half. I used the principles of umami, as I always do in my cooking to draw out as much flavor as I can with the least amount of effort. This soup tasted as though it had been cooking all day…and I will tell you that it was so delicious that I had 2 huge bowls…

***An original recipe from www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Beef & Barley Soup

2# chuck meat, cubed

¼ cup olive oil

1 small onion

4 garlic cloves, sliced

4 celery ribs, chopped

4 carrots, chopped

1 cup fresh peas

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

8 oz sliced mushrooms

1 small can tomato paste

2 bay leaves

S&P (begin with ¼ teaspoon of each)

12 cups filtered water

½ cup barley, cooked separately

NOTE: In addition to the onions, celery and carrots, you can add any combination of vegetables you prefer.

In a small pot, heat one and a half cups of water and add 2 teaspoons of salt. When the water is boiling, add the barley and cook until it is tender, then drain and rinse before adding to the soup. I cook the barley separately because I find that if I add it directly to the soup, it gives it a slimy texture, which I do not find appealing. Doing it this way makes it perfect.  Add half of the oil to a large stock pot, and heat well. Seer the meat cubes in small batches and remove onto a plate. Add more oil as you need to with each batch of meat. Add the remaining oil to the stockpot, and add the onions, celery, mushrooms and carrots and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Once cooked, add the sliced garlic cloves and combine well. Next add the tomato paste and cook with all of the vegetables for another 10 minutes. Next add the filtered water, bay leaves, S&P and the peas. The water should just cover all of the meat.  Mix well and allow the liquid to come to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for one and a half hours. Make sure to stir well every now and then. About half way through the cooking process, add the cooked barley and parsley and finish cooking until meat is tender. Serve with delicious crusty bread!


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella October 20, 2010 at 5:00 p

LOL Caterina your experience with the skiing sounds exactly like what Mr NQN tries to get me to do! What a beautiful dish and I also am not fond of cold weather!

avatar Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet October 20, 2010 at 5:44 p

It sounds like we both have some experience with Scandinavian men…lol!

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