When the weather outside takes a chilly turn, there’s nothing more comforting than a hearty bowl of beef & barley soup. Especially when it’s as easy to prepare as throwing everything in a crock pot and letting it simmer to perfection! This recipe, using a blend of rich beef, earthy barley, and a medley of wholesome veggies, is sure to win the hearts of both soup enthusiasts and novices alike.
🛒 Shopping List
- Fresh beef or stew meat (2 lbs)
- Crushed tomato (28 oz can)
- Fresh vegetables: carrots, celery, onion
- Dried shiitake mushrooms (or fresh mushrooms)
- Minced garlic
- Steak/Worcestershire Sauce
- Dried thyme
- Fresh ground black pepper
- Beef broth (8 cups)
- Bay leaves
- Start by preparing your beef: if using larger cuts, dice them into bite-sized pieces. This will help them cook evenly in the soup.
- Dice your carrots, celery, and onion uniformly. This ensures even cooking and a nice texture in every spoonful.
- If using dried shiitake mushrooms, give them a quick rinse. If using fresh mushrooms, slice them thinly.
- In the crock pot, combine beef, vegetables, barley, mushrooms, minced garlic, Steak/Worcestershire Sauce, thyme, and black pepper.
- Pour in the crushed tomatoes followed by beef broth, ensuring that all ingredients are submerged.
- Toss in the bay leaves on top.
- Cover and set the crock pot on low heat. Let it cook for 7-8 hours or until the beef is tender and the barley is cooked through.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
- Remove bay leaves before serving.
- This soup is best enjoyed hot, with a side of crusty bread or a fresh green salad.
- If you like a bit of heat, consider sprinkling some red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce.
- Grate some Parmesan or cheddar cheese on top for an extra layer of flavor.
How To Store Leftovers
- Allow the soup to cool completely.
- Transfer to airtight containers.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Hints & Hacks
- Short on time? Prep your veggies the night before and store them in a ziplock bag in the fridge.
- For a thicker soup, consider blending a portion of the cooked soup and then mixing it back in.
- If you find the soup too thick after cooking, simply add a bit more beef broth or water to achieve your desired consistency.
- The dried shiitake mushrooms add an earthy depth, but feel free to experiment with other mushrooms like cremini or portobello.
- The longer this soup sits, the richer the flavors become. It’s even better the next day!
There you have it! A comforting, wholesome, and delectable Beef & Barley Soup that will keep you coming back for more. Perfect for family dinners, social gatherings, or simply when you need that cozy, comforting feeling. Dive in and enjoy the symphony of flavors!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours (low) or 4 hours (high)
Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes (low) or 4 hours 20 minutes (high)
Servings: 6-8 hearty bowls
- 2 lbs beef, cut into cubes or stew meat
- 28 oz can crushed tomato
- 1 cup carrots, diced (about 2 carrots)
- 1 cup celery, diced (2-3 large stalks)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 cup barley
- 5-6 pieces sliced, dried shiitake mushroom (or you can use about 10 fresh mushrooms, sliced)
- 1½ tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon Steak/Worcestershire Sauce
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 8 cups beef broth
- 2 bay leaves
- Preparation is Key: Start by preparing all your ingredients. Dice the carrots, celery, and onion. If you’re using fresh mushrooms, slice them too. This will make the cooking process smooth and hassle-free.
- Brown the Beef: While this is an optional step, browning the beef in a skillet before adding it to the crock pot can enhance the flavor of your soup. Use a little oil, and brown the meat on all sides. This adds a rich, caramelized layer of flavor.
- Layer the Ingredients: In your crock pot, begin with the beef at the bottom. Next, layer the barley, followed by the carrots, celery, onion, and mushrooms.
- Pour & Season: Over your layered ingredients, pour the can of crushed tomatoes and the beef broth. Follow this up by adding in the minced garlic, Steak/Worcestershire Sauce, thyme, black pepper, and bay leaves.
- Stir & Set: Give everything a gentle stir to combine. Set your crock pot to either low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. The beauty of this recipe is the slow cooking process, which allows all the flavors to meld perfectly.
- Serve & Savor: Once cooked, remove the bay leaves and give the soup a final stir. Serve it hot, preferably with a crusty bread on the side. Enjoy the rich flavors and the hearty consistency that this soup promises!
Pro Tips for the Perfect Beef & Barley Soup:
- Quality Matters: Use a good quality beef broth. It serves as the base for your soup and greatly impacts the flavor.
- Personalize: Feel free to add more veggies or adjust the seasonings according to your preference.
- Storage: This soup stores well and tastes even better the next day. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. It also freezes well for up to 3 months.
The Secrets Behind Perfect Beef & Barley Soup:
Perfecting this classic requires just a few tricks up your sleeve:
- Quality Ingredients: A flavorful beef broth and fresh veggies can elevate your soup to gourmet levels.
- Patience: Slow cooking brings out the flavors more deeply. Let the crock pot work its magic!
- Season to Taste: Always taste your soup before serving and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Personalized flavoring always stands out.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
- Can I use chicken instead of beef? Yes, just replace the beef with chicken and use chicken broth instead.
- Is it gluten-free? Barley contains gluten, but you can use rice or quinoa for a gluten-free option.
- Can I make it vegetarian? Absolutely! Skip the meat and use vegetable broth.
Beef & Barley Soup, with its earthy mushrooms, hearty beef, and wholesome barley, is a timeless classic. This crock pot version is not only convenient but also ensures that the flavors are deeply infused, making every spoonful a delight. So the next time you’re looking for a heartwarming dish, remember this recipe. It’s more than just food; it’s a bowl full of memories and comfort.
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