Sunday, November 13, 2011

Happy (Early) Birthday!

I'm not sure if it's a sign of how much I love to cook or how domesticated I've become, but the one thing I had on my birthday list this year was a 6 qt. Dutch oven. And thankfully, my parents gave it to me.

In fact, they gave it to me 2 weeks early, and all the better! It provided me with the opportunity to make this recipe. I happened to be working from home on this particular day, so I made the soup early in the morning, giving it time to sit and the flavors deepen. Don't soups and stews always taste better the next day, after they've sat a while?

I've only made two tweaks to this recipe, adding the Italian seasoning and bay leaves. Make the recipe with those tweaks, make it without. Either way, put this on your list of recipes to make when winter settles in with its biting chill.

Beef and Barley Soup

Recipe slightly adapted from Martha Stewart
Active Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours
Makes 9 1/2 cups & serves 6


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound London broil, cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (from 4 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup hulled or pearl barley, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Garnish: grated fresh horseradish


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon oil in a medium Dutch oven or a large pot over medium-high heat. Season beef with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and brown on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil, and cook onion, carrot, and mushrooms until golden, stirring occasionally, 12 to 15 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, bay leaves, and Italian seasoning.
  3. Add garlic and tomato paste, and cook, stirring, until caramelized, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and add wine. Return to heat, and bring to a boil, scrapping up brown bits from bottom using a wooden spoon. Cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  4. Return beef to pot, and add stock and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
  5. Add barley, and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover, and cook until beef and barley are tender, 20 to 25 minutes more. Stir in parsley. Divide soup among 6 bowls, and garnish with horseradish.

Storage: Soup can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Warm over low heat before serving.

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