December 10, 2019
Stewing beef is easy and economical—beyond a classic beef stew, try using it as a base for a hearty barley soup. The meat benefits from a low, slow cooking time, and doing it in the slow cooker traps any juices, creating a flavourful stock you can add veggies, barley or pasta too.
Carrots and celery are classic, and potatoes, root vegetables and winter squash are also delicious. Pearl or pot barley or small pasta can be simmered right in the pot, with a splash of extra water to keep it from thickening too much.
This recipe doubles easily, if you need a larger batch or would like to stash some away in the freezer for a quick meal on another day.
Beef & Barley Soup
1 lb stewing beef
canola or other vegetable oil, for cooking
salt and pepper, to taste
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cups (1 L) beef or chicken stock
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp tomato paste or 1/2 cup tomato puree
1 tsp thyme
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 cup pearl or pot barley
Heat a drizzle of oil in a large skillet and brown the beef, seasoning with salt and pepper, and transfer to the bowl of a slow cooker. Add the onion to the pan and cook for a few minutes, then transfer to the slow cooker along with the beef. Pour about 1/2 cup water into the pan and swirl it around to loosen any browned bits; add to the slow cooker along with the stock, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and thyme. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until the meat is very tender. (Alternatively, braise in the oven at 325˚F for 2 1/2-3 hours.)
Add the celery, carrots and barley, cover and continue to cook for another hour, or until the vegetables and barley are tender. Pull the beef into smaller pieces with a fork, right in the pot, before serving.
- Julie Van Rosendaal
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