I like soup – all kinds of soup, but especially the thick, hearty home-made soups like Mom used to make.  I had a hankering for some the other day. From my childhood days, I envisioned an old favorite – vegetable beef barley. I could almost smell the delicious, steamy aroma flooding the kitchen. My wife didn’t exactly share my vision, as I proceeded to assemble the ingredients.

“That soup is for fall or winter – not spring,” she said, but my mind was made up. I checked out a few recipes, and found that it was really quite basic – if you don’t make your own stock. In my childhood, I remember the pot boiling away all day, with beef bones and various magic ingredients (which I now know were herbs and spices)  that Mom would add at various times during the cooking process. I was feeling experimental – and willing to compromise.

An hour and a half later, the pot was filled with a thick, aromatic broth. It wasn’t as good as I remember Mom’s – but then again, memories, especially old, emotion tempered memories, have no equal. The acid test came when my wife took her first tentative, sip- and gave a smile of approval. It really is a very good soup – and filling. Here’s the recipe in case you’re inclined to give it a try.

Ingredients

One (1) cup each of chopped onion, celery and carrots.

Half a pound or so of stewing beef cut into one inch cubes (you don’t have to measure them unless you’re so inclined).

Two 900ml. containers of beef broth. I used salt free.

One 796 ml. can of diced tomatoes – or fresh.

One cup pot barley.

Two tbsp. extra virgin olive oil.

Pepper and salt to taste.

Directions

In a dutch oven or large pot, cook the onion, celery an carrot in the olive oil for six minutes, stirring frequently. Add the meat, and continue cooking until the meat is cooked through (seven or eight more minutes).

Add the tomatoes, including liquid, and mix in. Add the beef bullion and bring to a low boil. Add pepper (if desired) and add the barley. Cover, cook at a rolling boil for an hour. For thinner soup, add more bullion or water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

If you have comments about this recipe – or have other favourites, I’d love to hear from you.

If you’re looking for a good read while your soup percolates, The White Limousine is now available as an e-book on Kobo. (www.kobobooks.com/‎)

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