There is nothing like a good hearty soup during the cold winter months. If you’re looking to make one, this recipe wholeheartedly fits the bill. A hearty soup that mirrors a stew, it’s a great way not only to fill your tummy, but also to use any and all vegetables you may have in your refrigerator.
I am a big fan of soup during wintertime and I’ve found that making them is really quite easy and so much better for you than the canned varieties. This soup is a meal in itself and whether you decide just to serve it on its own or with a salad or some baked crusty bread (I love those take and bake breads you can find in the grocery store) this soup will be a hit with your family and friends.
So let’s talk vegetable beef barley soup…
Lesson Learned 1 – This recipe is not written in stone: I am posting this recipe as a guide. I would follow the basics of the recipe, namely the meat, seasonings, onion, garlic, barley, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, broth and wine but the rest is up to you and what you have available at the time. If you don’t have any potatoes you can still make the soup. Use whatever vegetables you might have. That’s the beauty of this recipe. I normally add mushrooms to just about everything, but since I was serving the soup with a spinach salad that had mushrooms in it I decided to leave the mushrooms out this time. I also had some asparagus spears that I knew I wouldn’t be using in a timely fashion so I cut them up and threw them in.
The only thing you need to remember is certain vegetables may not stand up to the initial longer cooking time. So after I simmered the soup for an hour I added the frozen corn, peas and asparagus and cooked it for an additional ten minutes. That way the asparagus did not get too mushy,
Lesson Learned 2 – For even richer flavor, make it the day before: If you’re like me you’ll want to dive into this soup right away. It looks and smells so luscious it’s hard to resist. But if you let it sit overnight the flavors intensity. So if you can practice some self control you’ll definitely be rewarded. But if not, the soup is still really good.
Lesson Learned 3 – Use tomato paste from a tube: Since this recipe calls for only a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste don’t buy it canned. Stores now sell tomato paste in a tube so when a recipe calls for only a small amount you can squeeze it out of the tube and refrigerate the rest until you need it again. This is a great way to minimize waste.
Lesson Learned 4 – I can’t say it enough: Better than Bouillon bases, be it roast chicken or beef, really enhance the flavor of the soup. Do yourself a favor and pick some up. You’ll definitely notice a difference in the depth of flavor of the broth.
This soup is so easy to make there is not a lot to tips I can give you other than following the basics of the recipe. I know you will love this soup. Give it a try and let me know what you think…
Vegetable Beef Barley Soup...
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1.5 pounds chuck (or beef stew meat) cut into 1 inch chunks
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes
2 Tbs. tomato paste
5 cups low sodium beef broth
2 Tbs. Better Than Bouillon roasted beef base
1 cup dry red wine (I used Merlot)
3 medium red potatoes, peeled or unpeeled (wash the skins thoroughly if unpeeled)
3 stalks of celery
3 medium carrots, cut in chunks or 1 inch rounds
1 cup quick cooking barley
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen peas
10 asparagus spears, cut in chunks (optional)
Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish, optional
Heat butter and oil in a large dutch oven. Salt and pepper the beef cubes and brown on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. In the same pan, saute the onion until translucent (you can add a little more oil if needed). Add the garlic and cook for one minute until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the bits at the bottom of the pan. Add the diced tomatoes, broth, better than bouillon and tomato paste. Mix thoroughly to combine.
Add the meat (include any drippings) potatoes, celery, carrots and barley. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until the meat and barley are tender. Taste and add any needed salt or pepper.
Add the frozen corn, peas and asparagus (optional). Cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes. If you have time, let the soup refrigerate over night and warm it up the next day. If not, garnish with parsley, serve and enjoy!