Old-Fashioned Hearty Beef Barley Soup is one of those soups that can go from mediocre to outstanding by just applying a few different techniques and ingredients such as you’ll find in this old family standard.
Now this recipe is not just a runnier version of a beef stew as we’ve seen in some versions. Nor is this soup just an excuse to use leftover meat as is typical in some beef barley soup recipes. Oh no, our chuck blade is freshly ground and diced by my Honey. After the beef is sautéed with the onions, celery, garlic, the meat, vegetables and herbs are slowly simmered to make a rich, tasty broth. Then enhancing the richness of the broth is the addition of red wine and spicy V-8 Juice.
My mamma loved our soups and this one along with our Pasta e Fagioli was of her favorites. Although she loved to cook it didn’t make sense for her to make a big pot of soup just for herself. Have you ever tried to make a small pot of soup? It is nearly impossible. You start adding a little of this and a little of that and before you know it, you’ve got a gargantuan pot! So, we ended up making the soup and sharing it with my mamma and even my in-laws. An expensive gift wouldn’t have meant as much to them.
I remember one time in particular when we made our Beef Barley Soup and gave some to my mamma. We gave her enough for several meals. Each evening I’d call at 5 pm and I’d ask about her day and always what she was having for dinner. She would say Beef Barley Soup. Several days later I stopped by to take her to the grocery store. When we got back to her house I asked what she was going to have for lunch.
She said, “Beef barley soup.”
I said, “But mamma, we didn’t give you that much soup. You’ve been eating Beef Barley Soup every night.” Well, she got this sheepish look on her face. She opened the refrigerator and took out her little cooking pan — the one she always used to reheat her soups. In it was what looked like Beef Barley Soup — but not quite like what we had given her. I gave her a puzzled look. She took out a glass jar containing a light tan colored liquid from the refrigerator. She unscrewed the liquid and let me take a sniff. Beef broth. It suddenly dawned on me what she’d done. This was her way of making it last. I gave her a big hug and told her we’d make her some more — she didn’t have to add broth to it.
When I told my Honey about the soup episode it took him a few minutes to get over the shock of someone “watering” down his perfectly good soup. Once reason took over, he decided to start on a new batch of soup so mamma didn’t need to ration (ruin) the soup. But that was my mamma and my papà too. They didn’t waste — they economized. They weren’t hoarders — not by any means. Everything in our home was as neat as a pin. They just never took anything for granted and they used whatever they had until it had no more use left in it.
Old-Fashioned Hearty Beef Barley Soup is your basic comfort food. This is the type of soup that is perfect on a cold winter day. It will make you feel all cozy warm from the inside out. Serve this soup with some hot bread and a side salad — you will have a completely satisfying meal.
Tutti a tavola è pronto!
Un caro saluto e alla prossima.
Old-Fashioned Hearty Beef Barley Soup
A satisfying soup that warms you from the inside out. The beef is slowly simmered and what remains is delicious broth that is made richer with the addition of red wine and spicy V-8 Juice.
- 3 pounds beef chuck – blade cut – 2 1/4 pounds ground and 3/4 pound diced
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 medium stalks celery, chopped
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
- Thyme – 4 sprigs
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 quart Spicy V-8 Juice
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 2 cups beef broth
- 3/4 cup barley — not instant
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- In a Dutch oven or heavy soup pot, over medium-high heat, brown the beef in 1 Tablespoon butter and 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Salt and pepper the meat as it is browning. Once the beef is browned remove it and all the juices and place in a heat proof dish.
- In the Dutch oven melt the remaining butter in the olive oil and sauté the celery and onion until they become soft and translucent. Do not brown. Stir in the garlic; sauté 1 minute.
- Add the parsley, thyme sprigs and bay leaves . Continue to sauté for another minutes.
- Add the beef back into the pot and mix thoroughly. Once all of the ingredients are evenly mixed add the Spicy V-8 Juice, beef broth and red wine. Heat to a low boil, add the barley and let it come to a simmer then cover.
- Continue to cook covered stirring occasionally. Simmer for 4 – 5 hours until meat is tender and barley is done.
- Taste again to make sure the salt and pepper is to your taste.
- If you don’t like spicy you can substitute regular V-8 for the spicy.
- Calories: 4031
- Sugar: 110
- Sodium: 4608
- Fat: 133
- Saturated Fat: 48
- Unsaturated Fat: 76
- Trans Fat: 1
- Carbohydrates: 268
- Protein: 416
- Cholesterol: 1286
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