The cold has returned to Michigan. Not much snow here other than the banks around the driveways and one the roadsides. I can actually see grass on my front lawn in February? That is pretty much unheard of. I do know that if things follow the usual path we will have at least 2 more snow storms. One in early to March and then one more the beginning of April. It seems to follow that once we get that last blast in April the winter spell is usually over. I wait for it every year because the lull in March fools you into thinking there is no more snow coming and then the storm hits in early April and every grumps about it. But, then it is over.
What is good for dinner on a cold night? Soup and warm bread! I found a nice cheap cut of beef at our local grocery store that was marked down for a quick sale. Things like this make me happy because I view them as a bit of a challenge. These cuts are usually tougher or fattier so I need to be a bit creative. Cooking low and slow and trimming up the meat was perfect for this! I haven’t made Beef Barley Soup in years. A browning in a skillet then a low temperature cooking in a slow cooker was perfect to tenderize the beef. Yes, you can make the soup without browning the meat first but it helps to hold the meat together so it doesn’t shred as much and it gives it depth of flavor that just putting the meat in the slow cooker doesn’t do.
Everyone wanted me to call this 24 Hour Beef Barley Soup because it was even better the second day. Don’t get me wrong it was “good” the first day but I refrigerated it overnight and skimmed just a bit of fat off the top the next day for lunches. The family raved about how good it was and how the flavors blended together so well. I have learned my lesson. I will make a double batch next time and freeze some too!
I served this with garlic bread for dipping and a green sides salad to complete the meal.
- 2 pounds stew meat (nicely marbled beef chunks)
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 10 cups beef stock
- 2 onions, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed, about 2 cups
- 1 (16 oz) bag frozen peas, corn, and carrots
- 2 cups quick cooking barley
- fresh basil and freshly shredded Parmesan cheese for serving as desired
- In a large pan, brown the meat with a bit of olive oil. Remove the browned meat to a large slow cooker.
- Add 2 cups of the stock to the pan and bring to a boil. Scrape all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add this and the remaining 8 cups of stock to the slow cooker.
- Add the onions, and garlic to the slow cooker and stir.
- Cook on low for about 6 hours. Add the potatoes and frozen vegetables and cook for another hour to hour and a half.
- Add the barley and cook for 15 to 30 minutes when barley and potatoes should be done. Taste and add salt and pepper as you like. Note: This needed a lot more salt and pepper than I thought it would so taste and adjust several times.