Rich, hearty and deeply satisfying, my Beef and Barley Soup recipe is a simple, one-pot, complete meal everyone in your family will love, it’s definitely one of my favorite soup recipes. For most soups I make, the recipe starts with a trio of gently cooked veggies: onions, celery, and carrots. This trio creates an amazing background to the soup that is subtle and delicious. Once I create the base, I can adapt and create, taking the soup recipe in any direction I want.
This trio of onions, carrots, and celery is a very old, traditional way of flavoring soups, stews, stocks, and sauces, most countries have some variation of this cooking technique. The French refer to it as a ‘Mirepoix’, the Italians call it a ‘Soffritto’, and the Germans call this ‘Suppengrün’, and so forth, and so on, you get the idea. I refer to it as a ‘mirepoix’, it’s the term I learned growing up, so I just stick with it.
For this Beef and Barley Soup recipe, in addition to the basic mirepoix, I add mushrooms, garlic, and tomatoes. These add additional richness and complexity to the beef and the barley. Serve this soup with a crusty loaf of bread and it is pure Heaven.
Why ‘Sweat’ the Vegetables Prior to Adding Stock?
Sweating vegetables is a technique that gently cooks the vegetable without adding color and releases the excess moisture. That is the technical explanation, but why? I believe that sweating enhances and concentrates the flavor of the vegetables. Releasing the excess moisture as steam into the air rather than the excess moisture watering down and diluting the soup.
So the end result is enhanced, concentrated vegetable flavor, which equals more flavor in the soup.
Here is my Beef and Barley Soup recipe:
Beef and Barley Soup
- 1/2 Pound Stew Meat 1/2-inch dice
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 3 Cups Onions Diced
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic Crushed and chopped
- 1 1/2 Cups Celery Diced
- 4 Cups Carrots 1/2-inch dice
- 1 Pound Cremini Mushrooms (Baby Bella Mushrooms) Sliced or quartered
- 3 Cups Tomatoes Diced
- 2 Quarts Beef Stock
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 1 Tablespoon Dried Thyme
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Black Pepper
- 1 Cup Pearl Barley
- 1 Cup Green Peas
- 1 Bunch Flat-Leaf Parsley
- Place a large pot over medium-high heat, add olive oil and brown the beef in small batches until well browned. Add the onions, salt, and all the beef, sauté for 5 minutes until soft.
- Add the herbs, barley, black pepper, and all the remaining vegetables except green peas. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let the vegetables sweat for 15 minutes
- Add the beef stock, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the barley is cooked. Approximately 25-30 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, add the green peas, serve and garnish with chopped fresh parsley. Serve with warm crusty bread.