Beef Barley Soup

Beef barley soup is one of our favorite meals.  Though the price of beef has risen considerably over the last two years, the recipe we use allows for the cheaper, tougher cuts of meat.

The recipe originally came from Mr. Food Test Kitchen.

"Our recipe for Deli-Style Beef Barley Soup is so authentic-tasting, it'll have you wondering whether someone swapped yours with one from your favorite deli. This nutritious and hearty soup is great for cold winter nights, 'cause it'll warm your heart and your tummy." Deli Style Beef Barley Soup
The simplicity appeals to me.  It takes very little time to prepare, contains only a few ingredients, and isn't weighed down by heavy spices and salt.

I've toyed a bit with their recipe, mainly because the menfolk in this family don't know the meaning of "normal portion" when it comes to this meal. I generally get 8 servings out of this recipe, though it's considerably less if my father grabs a massive bowl for lunch.

Gruff's Deli-Style Beef Barley Soup

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds beef chuck steak (or whatever is on sale) cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 boxes Simple Truth Organic Fat Free Beef Stock
1/2 cup Quaker Quick Pearled Barley or regular Pearled Barley
10-12 baby carrots or 3 carrots diced into 1/2 inch chunks
1 large onion, diced
3-4 celery stalks, diced

1. Add the flour, salt and pepper to a plastic gallon-sized bag. Shake to combine. Add beef cubes and shake until all sides of meat are evenly coated. I sometimes add an extra tablespoon of flour if the coating seems underwhelming. (Tip: make sure the meat isn't "wet" when adding it to the bag. Blood or water left from thawing will prevent the flour from making a fine coat.)

2. Add olive oil to a hot soup pot.  Add the beef and brown on all sides (5-7 minutes).  Once browned, toss all the remaining stuff in and bring it to a boil.  Reduce heat after boil and cook on low 45-50 minutes or until barley is tender.  (Tip: Never add oil to a cold pot or pan - the oil takes on a burnt flavor as the metal heats.)

This delicious soup can be served with toasted French bread.   

For those wondering about the soup stock choice: I started using Simple Truth a few years ago.  Their chicken broth was the only one on the market that didn't make me sick (multiple chemicals and Gruff don't mix well).  I've expanded into more of their offerings, and have had the same positive result.  

Simple Truth is a Kroger brand (King Soopers, for my Colorado friends) and the prices are competitive to similar offerings, though their organic products are far cheaper (and more authentic) when compared to organic products by a different manufacturer.