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
- 1 pound stew meat cut in 1 1/2 inch cubes
- 4 T olive oil, divided
- 1 8 oz package of baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1/3 cup shallots, chopped
- 1/3 cup sherry
- 8 cups beef broth
- 1 cup medium barley
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 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.
- Add remaining olive oil to pan along with mushrooms, carrots and shallots. Sauté for 5 minutes or until mushrooms are soft.
- Add sherry and scrape browned bits off bottom of pan. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
- 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.