Beef Barley Soup

Soup is the perfect winter meal, and, let’s be honest, there is nothing quite like winter in Minnesota. Some are snowier than others, some longer than others – but they are always cold. Especially the last week of January. It really isn’t as bad as it’s hyped up to be. True Minnesotans find ways to deal with it – and heartwarming dinners are one way to make it a little easier to handle. 

This beef barley soup is filled with flavor and doesn’t need to be cooked all day, which makes it a great weeknight dinner. I love the flavor combination of the thyme, shallots, sherry and portobello mushrooms. They add a rich depth to the soup – perfect to warm you up on a cold winter night. And the barley is a  great way to add whole grains to your menu. (Note the resolution I am working on: more variety in grains!) Don’t have any mushrooms on hand? Pop open a can of diced tomatoes instead. It’s pretty easy to tailor it to your palette. 

Add some popovers and a salad, and you have a fabulous, well-rounded dinner that came together in a snap. And it helps take the chill out of winter. So until global warming takes over and makes winters here a little warmer and a little shorter, I’ll stick to soup and a warm winter vacation!

Beef Barley Soup
Recipe type: Soups and Stews
  • 1 pound stew meat cut in 1½ inch cubes
  • 4 T olive oil, divided
  • 1 8 oz package of baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
  • ⅓ cup shallots, chopped
  • ⅓ cup sherry
  • 8 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup medium barley
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat Dutch oven over medium high meat and add 1 T olive oil. Season beef with salt and pepper and add to pan and brown. Do it in batches if necessary. Remove beef from pan and set aside.
  2. Add remaining olive oil to pan along with mushrooms, carrots and shallots. Sauté for 5 minutes or until mushrooms are soft.
  3. Add sherry and scrape browned bits off bottom of pan. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add broth, barley, thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add beef back to pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat for 1 hour or until barley is tender.


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