Beef and Barley Soup (Done RIGHT!!)

The weather has finally started cooling off.  That can only mean one thing.

It’s SOUP season!!!

I love soup.  I mean, I REALLY LOVE soup.  I could eat it everyday at every meal. 

Yesterday was the perfect day to start the soup season off right.  While I was looking through Skinnytaste’s site I came across her Beef and Barley soup recipe.  I love barley in soups.  It’s a really great substitute for potatoes in many recipes.  It’s a healthier choice and a good source of fiber and protein.   

The best thing about this recipe is that it incorporates the BEEF that we have a plethora of in our freezer, is family friendly AND HEALTHFUL!!!

While Gina’s recipe looked great, I had a few alterations that I made to make it even better.  I’ll explain those in a bit.  I will let you know that this is a time-consuming recipe.  I prepped and browned the meat and sauted the veggies the night before, stored them in the fridge and then put everything together the next morning. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

1-2 lbs lean stew meat (or chuck roast trimmed and cubed)

3 large carrots, diced

1 large onion, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

1 can diced tomatoes

9 cups water

2 1/2 TBSP beef base

2 bay leaves

1 cup uncooked quick cooking barley

salt and pepper

Generously salt and pepper the meat before cooking.  In a large skillet, over high heat, brown the meat and half the garlic in one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil until the meat has some nice carmelization on it.  It doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through.  You may want to do this in two batches so as not to over crowd the pan.  Remove from pan with ALL of the juices and set aside.  In the same pan add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and saute all of the vegetables and the remaining half of the garlic.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until the onions are translucent and the carrots are just starting to caramelize.  Remove from the heat.

Place all of the meat (with it’s juices) and vegetables in a large crock pot.  Dissolve the beef base in 6 cups of hot water and pour over the meat and veggies.  Add the diced tomatoes (with all of their juices) and the bay leaves.  Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 4, until the meat is falling apart.

Once the meat has reached the desired tenderness, skim off any fat on the surface with a large spoon and then transfer the meat and veggie mixture and juices to a large soup pot on the stove.  Remove the bay leaves and add the remaining three cups of water.  Turn to medium high heat and bring to a boil.  Add the barley and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes until the barley is cooked through.

Serve with crackers.

This was an OVERWHELMING hit with my family.  Ella ate as much as her brother, which isn’t unusual.  Tucker ate twice as much as I thought he would and Grady gave it a big thumbs up.  Tucker didn’t even complain about the celery or tomatoes which are typical on his “don’t like” list.

Here’s how I make mine different. I don’t like to dump raw vegetables in a soup pot and simmer the heck out of them.  I feel like it really makes a lack lustre soup pulling all of the flavor from the veggies and dilluting them in the water.  I like to saute all of my vegetables before putting them in the soup.  It really helps to intensify their flavors and then you don’t have “carrot water” in the end.  I added TONS of garlic to add another flavor layer and a great depth.  I, also, always prefer to use a flavored base rather than just water.  Chicken soups get chicken base, beef soups get beef base, but I’m sure you had that figured out already. 

Here’s the skinny.  A one cup serving (I eat 1.5 cups) is 264 calories, 14 grams of carbs, 17 grams of fat and 14 grams of protein. (These calculations are based on using 2 pounds of chuck roast. Leaner stew meat may yield few calories and fat grams.)

If you’re in the mood for a hearty, soul warming meal I highly suggest this one.

Peace, love and soupsations!!!

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