Beef and barley soup is a classic homecookin’ dish. Warm and comforting, it’s a delicious and nutritious meal in one.
Like any good homemade soup it is endlessly customizable depending on what’s in your pantry and fridge. Don’t have parsnips, no problem, leave them out. Have leftover peas, beans or corn in the fridge – add them in! Have pork instead of beef – okay! Have a half empty jar of salsa that needs to be used up soon? Go for it, use it instead of diced tomatoes. That’s the beauty of homemade soup!
Here’s a recipe that will give you a good starting point. This recipe uses hulled barley – the least processed form of barely.
What is Hulled Barley?
Hulled barley is the most whole grain form of barley. While the outer husk has been removed, the bran remains intact leaving it with more dietary fibre, iron, thiamin and trace minerals than pearled or pot barley, according to Canadian Registered Dietitian, Leslie Beck.
Hulled barley takes at least an hour to cook – perfect for a soup like this where it gets to simmer and pick up all sorts of delicious flavor without turning into mush.
Can I use Pot or Pearl Barley Instead?
Yes, you can use pot or pearl barley (more common in stores) in this recipe. Because they are polished versions of hulled barley, you may want to reduce the simmering time on the soup to ensure the barley kernels don’t get too mushy. Pearl barley is the most polished and has no bran remaining; it requires only 40 to 45 minutes of cooking.
Regardless of which type of barley you choose, all three types of barley offer health benefits thanks to high amounts of fibre throughout the entire kernel. Barley contains beta-glucan soluble fibre. The US National Institute of Health has shown this type of fibre to help control blood sugar levels, a benefit for prevention and management of type 2 diabetes.
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 lb stewing beef
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 2 parsnips, diced
- 5-6 mushrooms, diced
- 1/2 tbsp Italian Seasoning (or 1/4 tsp thyme & 1/2 tsp oregano)
- 4 cups beef broth
- 2 cups (1 can (14.5 oz/428 ml)) diced tomatoes
- 2 -3 cups water
- 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup hulled barley
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
- In large soup pot, heat oil over medium high heat.
- Add beef and brown all sides. For best results, do this in 2 or 3 batches to ensure beef gets browned not steamed.
- Add onions, garlic, celery, carrots and parsnips. Stir well to release browned bits from pot.
- Sauté vegetables for 2-3 minutes to soften onions and release flavors.
- Add Italian seasoning and sauté for half a minute.
- Add beef broth, tomatoes, 2 cups water, Worcestershire Sauce and vinegar; stir well.
- Add barley, stir and bring to boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour with lid slightly askew so steam can escape.
- If more liquid is needed add additional cup of water.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as needed with black pepper and cayenne pepper.
- Add half of parsley, saving the other half to garnish each bowl of soup.
- Any leftovers can be frozen for up to 6 months.
- Hulled barely is the least processed form of barley adding extra fibre. It will withstand longer cooking times. You can also use pot or pearl barley in this soup.
- To make this soup in a crockpot, simply brown the beef then add it and all ingredients to a crockpot. Set heat on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
Getty Stewart is an engaging speaker and writer providing tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas to make home cooking easy and enjoyable. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener.