Beef Vegetable Barley Soup

This belly-warming soup is rustic yet delicious.  The meat cooks low and slow to make sure it is tender and succulent in the dish, while the vegetables are added over time so they are just the right texture.

This is yet another recipe born from my craving for American food I can’t easily find in London.  I’ve been craving Campbell’s Beef Vegetable Soup and also an addictive beef barley soup I used to have at a greasy spoon in the lake town I used to live in back in the day.  So I did some research and found some recipes that have you cook all the ingredients together for 6 hours!!!  Unless you have a crockpot, which I don’t at this time, I don’t have the time.  Plus it seems everything would just be boiled to death.  So I decided to try to piece it together myself and I have to say I nailed it!!!

I also ordered a £10 tripod for the new Olympus camera my in-laws so kindly bought me for Christmas.  This was my first chance to use it and I can’t be more pleased.  Got to love!

Serves:  8-10 bowls (I froze half the recipe for later)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb (500g) lean stewing beef diced
½ lrg yellow onion roughly chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree (or ½ tbsp. double concentrate)
8 cups or 2 litres of beef stock
3 celery stalks
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 medium carrot diced
1 medium potato diced
¾ c (100g) pearl barley well rinsed
1.5 c (120g) green beans cut to 1 inch bits
1 c (120g) of frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste


1.  Add 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to a deep frying pan (with a cover) or cast iron skillet.  (I used a skillet because I feel it browns the meat better.) Make sure your pan/skillet is big enough on the bottom to brown the beef or it will simply steam.  You can always brown the beef in parts if you don’t feel your pan/skillet is big enough and return it all to the pan at the end.

2. If your beef isn’t already in 1 cm x 1 cm diced cubes then cut it to this size.  Pat the meat with paper towels so that it is dry to help browning.

3. Over a moderate heat brown the beef. As the cooking liqueur from the beef gets excessive drain it out and put aside.

4. Turn the heat down to low-medium and add a dash more olive oil to wet the meat.
5. Add the ½ large onion and cook for 5 minutes until starting to soften.

6. Pour the meat cooking liqueur back over the meat.

7.  Add 1 tbsp tomato puree and blend.

8.  Pour enough beef stock over the meat to cover and cover the pan/skillet.  Leave to cook on low for 45 minutes.

9.  While the beef is slow cooking, chop the carrots, celery, potatoes, mince the garlic and rinse the barley well.

10. Add the carrots, celery and garlic to a bit of oil in the bottom of a large soup pot and cook over a medium heat.  Cook for 5 minutes or until garlic softens.  Have a care not to burn the garlic as it will become bitter.

11.  Add the potatoes and barley.  Cook another 5 minutes.

12.  Add the remaining beef broth.

13.  Add the beef and onion mixture, turn the heat to low and cover.  Cook another 45 minutes.

14.  Cut of the ends of your green beans, and cut into 1 inch long bits. Add to the soup with the frozen peas. Salt and pepper to taste.

15.  Serve when the barley and vegetables are soft and cooked through. Goes great with a bit of crusty buttered bread like a baguette.

2 thoughts on “Beef Vegetable Barley Soup

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