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It’s chilly here in North Carolina.  I think chillier than last year at this time.  And that makes it perfect soup weather.  And there’s something so comforting, and well, soul-warming about beef-barley soup.  Get out the soup spoons and the good bread.  The other bonus with this version of beef-barley soup, is that it goes together relatively quickly, making it perfect for a chilly Friday night.  Part of what makes this go together quickly is, I always have a pound or more of browned, crumbled ground beef in the freezer.  Because, you just never know when the spirit will move you to make soup or pizza!  I’ve given you the amounts I used, but you can alter the amounts, as well as the ingredients, to suit your taste.

About the broth.  Many times I use lower-sodium or salt-free boxed beef broth.  Then, I add some beef base paste or dry beef base to enhance the flavor.  This time, I had a couple of ribs leftover from our Thanksgiving prime rib, so I put those in a pot, with a celery rib, a carrot, half an onion, 2 bay leaves, a few whole allspice berries and added about 6 cups water.  I brought it to the boil, lowered the heat and simmered the mixture for at least and hour, but I think it was longer.  Then, strained it and made the soup.  I did add about 1 tablespoon of beef base paste, after I strained it.  If I used boxed broth, I simmer it down by half, then add the beef base and an additional cup or two of water.

This is good with soda crackers.  It’s spectacularly good with warm, hearty bread…and wine!  Stay warm.

Soul-Warming Beef-Barley Soup

  • Servings: Makes about 2 quarts
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 6-7 cups good quality beef broth
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mixed dried mushrooms, broken into pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2-3/4 cup pearled barley
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2-3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped celery leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-4 teaspoons beef base paste or powder (optional, but it makes the soup better)
  • 1/3 pound cooked, crumbled ground beef
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 teaspoons arrowroot (optional)

Pour the broth in a reasonably large pot; add the onion, sun-dried tomatoes, dried mushrooms, bay leaves and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the barley, carrots, thyme, celery leaves, Worcestershire sauce, beef base and ground beef.  Simmer for at least 15-20 minutes, over very low heat.  Taste and correct the seasoning.  If you would like the consistency of the soup to be just a bit thicker, make a slurry with the arrowroot, adding is a bit at a time, to the simmer liquid.  This is absolutely best made early in the day and reheated from dinner, or even better to make it the day before.

NOTE:  You may add diced green beans, frozen corn and/or peas, sautéd mushrooms instead of dried, as well as diced potatoes.  We like it just as it is.  The flavors are cleaner and purer.

Soul-Warming Beef-Barley Soup Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2019.  All rights reserved.

I’ve given you two options here—with cheese and without.  It’s difficult to say which is better.  Isn’t good to know they are both terrific?