January 21, 2015

A Month of Soups: Beef Barley Soup

As a child, my family went through a period or two of pretty hard times. My parents knew how to stretch a dime, that's for sure. Their own parents had survived the Great Depression and had passed on a heritage of frugality and common sense. I grew up on salt pork and lima beans, fried hominy, and other Depression-era foods such as beef barley soup.

Beef barley soup is one of those dishes that uses whatever ingredients you have on hand. I chose to use my slow-cooker to make this week's soup so that I could let it simmer all day long without having to babysit it.

I started with a package of beef soup bones from the steer that we raised for the freezer. I browned them in a heavy pot with two tablespoons of melted butter. When the meaty bones were well-browned, I moved them to my Crockpot and added a quart of my homemade beef and tomato stock, a cup of water, and some salt and pepper.

Then I added chopped carrots, celery, onions and garlic to the pot and sautéed them in the butter and fat left from the beef bones, added them to the Crockpot and turned it on Low. There's that mirepoix again - carrots, onions, celery. I went a little light on the celery, it isn't hubby's favorite ingredient. You can use more or less of each vegetable as you wish.

About an hour before dinner I removed the soup bones, pulled the meat off the bones and returned the meat to the pot. I added some dried parsley and 1/2 cup of pearled barley to the soup and continued cooking for the last hour. This is a perfect dish for pearled barley, the long, slow cooking time makes the barley tender but not mushy.

My mother sometimes added a can of tomatoes, a handful of frozen peas and some whole kernel corn. Ina Garten from the Food Network adds leeks to her beef and barley soup. Add what you like and what you have on hand, it's an excellent way to use up the bits and pieces in your refrigerator.

Beef Barley Soup

2 Tbsp butter
beef soup bones or oxtails, or use 1 pound stew meat
1 quart beef stock (I used beef and tomato stock)
1 cup water (or more if desired)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1/2 cup pearled barley

Brown soup bones in 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy pot. When well-browned, remove bones and add to slow-cooker. Add beef stock, water, salt and pepper to slow-cooker.

Place carrots, onion, celery and garlic in pot with the melted butter. Sauté vegetables until tender and add them to the slow-cooker. Cover and cook on Low for 4-6 hours.

Remove bones and pull off the meat. Return meat to slow-cooker. Add dried parsley and pearled barley. Simmer for another hour.

A Month of Soups 2014:
Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Ham and Bean Soup
Beef Barley Soup

A Month of Soups 2013:
Chicken and Mushroom Soup
Broccoli and Cheddar Soup
French Onion Soup
Albondigas Soup

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops
including the Homestead Barn Hop.


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  1. Today is the coldest day of this week and this will be on the menu for tonight. Can't wait.

  2. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead9:16 AM

    Enjoy, Kris!

  3. The Beef Barley Soup was fabulous - I put in the extra vegetables and the barley soaked up much of the juice and made it more like a stew. It's definitely a keeper. It's nice to find new recipes that meet your expectations or even surpass them. I've had many "disappointments". Thanks a bunch. Can't wait to try some of the other ones.

  4. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead10:09 PM

    I'm glad you loved it, Kris. Barley does tend to soak up the liquid, especially if you refrigerate the soup and then warm up again. It sure tastes good though!

  5. Oh yum! This makes me feel all warm on this cold winter night! I will be making soon! Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Oh yum! This makes me feel all warm on this cold winter night! I will be making soon! Thanks for sharing!!

  7. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead9:13 PM

    You're welcome, Jennie, I hope you love it!

  8. I read somewhere that those who eat soup consume fewer calories in a day. My mouth is watering with your pictures and recipe. Thank you for sharing. Yum!


  9. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead3:14 PM

    You're welcome, Jenni. I like that, people who eat soup consume fewer calories! Thank you for sharing that.

  10. This looks really yummy. I am looking forward to our weather really cooling off so I can cook soup and really enjoy it. thanks for sharing at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

  11. Again, you are making me drool! Can I just come live with you? LOL Thanks for sharing on the (mis)Adventures Monday. I look forward to you sharing again!

  12. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead2:20 PM

    LOL, Mindie. I don't mind lodgers as long as they help weed the garden and scoop poop. ;-)


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