I think just about everyone could use this Hearty Beef Barley soup in their life. Well, I mean, except our vegetarian and vegan friends. I am don’t think they would appreciate this! Of course, you can always sub out the beef for mushrooms and beef stock for veggie stock. What a great soup as well.
Beef For The Stew
Let’s start with the star of this show, the beef. You can always buy stew meat. That is a great, simple option. It is a little more expensive though, so I almost always opt to cut up my own. Now, the cut of meat you use is pretty important. You generally don’t want a super lean cut of beef, a little fat is a lot of flavor. This was a lean chuck roast. Still pretty fatty, but not as fatty as the regular. Cut into 1-2 inch chunks.
There are 2 ways this soup will thicken, one is the barley. When it releases the starch, this will thicken the soup substantially. Another way I like to thicken the soup is by adding some flour to the beef, coating it in it, before searing.
For searing, there are a few things to mindful of. Make sure your pan is really hot and the oil is really hot when you add the beef. You want it to sear hot and fast. The second is, don’t overcrowd your pan. I know it is tempting to get it done quickly, but sometimes that means in 2 batches. The more you add to the pan, the more it will cool the pan. So, with my beef, I did 2 batches.
It doesn’t need to a dark, all-over sear, the photo below shows a good sear for what we are doing.
Making the Hearty Beef Barley Soup
There, the hardest part is over!! Add all your beef back into the pan with the onion and celery.
Saute these together for about 3-5 minutes. Add in the garlic and saute another minute.
Your stock, seasoning and tomato paste are in next.
Now is the waiting game. You want tender beef, so this is going to need to cook for a while. I let mine go for about 30 minutes. You may need to add in a little more water or stock as it is cooking down. You will need plenty for when you add the barley in as it absorbs so much liquid.
There are several types of barley to choose from. I used pearled barley, the quickest cooking, and easiest to find. This technically is not a whole grain as the bran has been stripped away. If this concerns you, go for a barley groat, a whole grain. Just know it takes a little longer to cook. Not a big deal though. The pearly barley will take about 30 minutes to tender in this soup.
Let the barley cook for about 15 minutes, then add in your frozen peas and carrots. I add then in towards the end as you don’t want them to be overcooked!
Let it finish out the last 15 minutes of the cooking time and it is done. Look at how thick, hearty, and totally delicious!!
You pan should look like this when you are finished. This is a reduction line. Reduction helps your soup to have so much flavor and intensifies it all.
This looks just like what a fall meal should look like. Doesn’t this look cozy and look like it would warm your soul??
The flavors, texture, and substance are perfect this time of year!!
1-2pounds stew meatYou can also cut up your own, like I did. As for what type of meat to use, there are plenty of options. A chuck roast is great, it has plenty of good fat,which is awesome. I have used top sirloin roasts before. This one was a lean chuck roast. Cut into 1- 2 inch chunks.
1/4cupall purpose flour
1cupchopped onionsI prefer a bigger hearty chop here, but if you want a smaller dice, then do that!
2tablespoonsminced garlicI know this seems like a lot, but you want plenty of garlic for depth of flavor!
1/2teaspoonsaltThis is to start, we will adjust seasoning at the end.
1teaspoonTony Chachere's seasoningThis is optional, but is a great addition if you can find it. It adds just a touch of heat, but not too much.
1 1/4cupbarleyI like to use a pearl barley, but that is up to you!
Sprinkle beef chunks with all-purpose flour. Set aside while your pan is heating. Now, heat your pan over medium-high heat until it is good and hot. You will want to sear yout beef, which means you need a hot pan! Once it is hot, pour in your oil. Once the oil is hot, let's start with the beef. I cooked mine in 2 groups. You won't want to overcrowd the pan. If it gets overcrowded you will start stewing your beef instead of searing the beef. So, start with half your beef. Add it to the pan, spaced out and single layer. Let it cook until the is seared on one side, flip and do the same on the other. Remove from pan and add in your next set of beef chunks. Now, if it used all your oil, add in a few more tablespoons. Cook the same way. Once it is finished, return all the beef to the pan. Next up, add in your celery and onions. Cook them with your beef for about 3-5 minutes, stirring consistently. Add in the garlic and cook another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Pour in your beef stock and spices. Mix well. Cook on medium-high, stirring ocassionally for about 30 minutes. Rinse your barley and add it to the soup. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes.At this point, add in your carrots and peas. Continue to cook another 20 minutes. If the soup starts to thicken too much, add in a cup or 2 of water. Everyone's medium-high is actually a different temp, so your's may run a little higher than mine. At this point the barley and beef should be tender. Only at this point do we adjust for seasoning. The reason for this is as the soup reduces, those flavors and seasoning will intensify. So, if you have added too much salt to begin with, after the reduction, it is going to really salty!! Remove your bay leaves and you are ready to go!This soup is best served with fresh bread, cornbread, biscuits, or even crackers. If you don't finish it all in one day, which we didn't, it is really good as a leftover as well. Simply store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Now, sit back and enjoy. You deserve it!