Vegetable Beef Soup with Barley
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1 lb stew meat **
2-3 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
2 or 3 (14.5 oz) cans beef broth (total about 5 to 6 cups)
1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
4 carrots, sliced
1 small onion, large dice/small chop
1-2 stalks of celery, large dice/small chop
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup pearl barley (use 3/4 cup if you LOVE barley)
1 small zuchinni, large dice/small chop
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Cut meat into 2-inch chunks.  Place flour in a large ziplock bag.  Add in beef chunks and shake to coat with flour.  Heat oil in large dutch oven or soup pot, over medium high heat.  Remove beef chunks from ziplock (shaking gently to remove excess flour) and place in hot pot.  Brown beef on one or two sides.  (What you’re doing here is developing flavors, NOT cooking the beef.)  Add 1 cup of beef broth to the pot, and use a spoon to scrape up bits on bottom of pan (that’s called fond and it adds wonderful depth of flavor to your soup.)  Add the canned tomatoes and the rest of the beef broth.  Cover and simmer (not boil!) on medium-low for 1 hour. 

Add onion, carrots, celery, barley, zucchini, thyme, and bay leaf (all remaining ingredients except peas) and 1 cup of water.  Simmer on medium-low for 1 hour or until beef and barley are tender.  Taste soup and add salt and pepper to your liking.  Add peas and simmer for 5 additional minutes to heat through.

notes:


I rarely buy meat that is cut and marked as “stew meat.”  It is usually more expensive because you are paying for the butcher to cut it up for you into nice little pieces.  I watch for large roasts to go on sale and then I buy several.  I cut them up myself and then freeze them into 1 lb packages – perfect for soups and stews!


For the vegetables in this soup you can really use anything.  Try adding small potato chunks, frozen/canned corn, frozen/canned green beans and even mushrooms.  My favorite though is the combination I used in the recipe above.