I'm laughing that I'm posting a beef-filled soup after my post on how we are going to eat less meat! But, actually, this is one of my favorite winter soups. I don't make it too often because cutting up the meat into the size pieces I prefer is definitely a chore, but it is super delicious and worth the effort. Its perfect for any fall or winter day and definitely a crowd pleaser. I've been meaning to post this for a few weeks now, so without further ado, here is the next installment of my soup arsenal.
Beef Barley Soup (adapted from Cooking Light, January 2005)
~ 2 pounds beef stew meat, trimmed and cut into small pieces (larger pieces will take longer to become really soft; I prefer pretty small pieces, about 1/2 - 1 inch, but whatever you like will work)
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 cups chopped leek (about 4 medium; tips for cleaning here)
2 cups chopped carrot
1-2 cups quartered mushrooms (any kind works great)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
6 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
~4 springs fresh thyme, leaves stripped (dried thyme also works fine)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 bay leaves
2 (14-ounce) cans beef or vegetable broth (I usually use my homemade vegetable stock which has a nice rich flavor)
1 cup uncooked pearl barley
1. Coat pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high. Add a portion of the beef (don't crowd the pan or else it won't brown), cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining beef. Remove beef from pan.
I know the photos make the soup look more like a stew... I took them the following day and a lot of the broth got sucked up by the barley - just add a bit more vegetable broth to bring it back to its "soup" form or eat it like a stew. Works great both ways.