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. Even during the good years we ate 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 used 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. I went a little light on the celery, it isn't hubby's favorite ingredient. You can use more or less of each vegetable if 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.
Click here for my Soup Recipe Collection.
My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a