Thursday, February 21

Beef Barley Soup

My fiancĂ© pointed out that nearly all the soups I make are vegetable purees (because they’re my favorite), so in the interest of switching things up, I made a manly beef barley soup. It’s really more of a stew, with tons of vegetables, al dente pearled barley, and a rich beef broth.  This is taken from a Barefoot Contessa recipe and uses inexpensive beef shanks to add an extra deep, meaty flavor to the soup that stock alone cannot create. It’s a great one pot meal and leftovers reheat really nicely for the next day. The barley is pretty sturdy and will not get mushy after sitting in the soup for a few days, so  this is also a great dish to make and keep in the freezer for a later date.

Hearty Beef Barley Soup:
  • Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large dutch oven for medium-high heat.
  • Season 1 1/2 lbs. beef shanks* generously with salt and pepper and add to the pot.
  • Brown the meat for 5-8 minutes per side, or until nicely caramelized.
  • Remove the meat from the pot and set aside.
  • Add in 1 diced onion, 2 diced leeks, 3 stalks of diced celery, and 6 diced carrots.**
  • Cook the vegetables for 10 minutes, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Once veggies are tender and starting to brown, add in 4 sprigs of fresh thyme and 2 bay leaves.
  • Add the beef shanks back in, along with 8 c. low-sodium beef broth, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, add 1 c. pearled barley to a saucepan with 4 c. water and bring to a boil.
  • Cook for 30 minutes, or until barley is almost tender, then drain and set aside.***
  • Skim any fat off the top of the beef broth and fish out the thyme stems and bay leaves.****
  • Add the barley and heat for another 5 minutes. Check for seasoning.
  • Divide soup into bowls and serve.

Serves six
*The original recipe called for oxtails, but I couldn't find any. Shanks are a good substitute.
**I like a lot of vegetables in this soup, but feel free to add more or less based on your preference.
***Can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge until ready to add to the broth.
****I also fished out the beef shanks at this point. But, if you like, you can eat them with the soup.