Quick Beef and Barley Soup

Source: EatingWell magazine, Jan-Feb 2011
adapted by http://theresalwaysthyme.blogspot.com/
4 servings (recipe can be doubled)

8 ounces sirloin steak, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large stalk celery, sliced thin
1 large carrot, sliced in coins
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup quick-cooking barley (I used pearled barley and just simmered longer)
2 cups beef broth
3 cups chicken broth
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Sprinkle steak with a little pepper and salt. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the steak, stirring often, until browned on all sides. Transfer to a bowl.

Add another 2 teaspoons oil, and the onion and celery to the pot and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots and cook for another 3 minutes and stir again.

Add tomato paste and thyme and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are coated with the tomato paste. Cook for a couple more minutes.

Add barley, broth, mushrooms, salt, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; add the beef and juices, cook until the barley is tender. This recipe can be doubled, if leftovers are thick you can thin it with more broth.