A Hot and Hearty Soup

November 8, 2011 § 2 Comments

I have to admit, I’m a little obsessed with making soup right now. Once the weather gets cold, soup is the only thing I want to eat. This Beef and Barley Soup is warm, hearty, and perfect for a cold night. I love to serve it with some crusty bread and a glass of red wine!

For the meat, I used a grass-fed london broil that I cut into cubes. Grass fed beef is high in omega 3 fatty acids and is higher in the “good” unsaturated fats and lower in the “bad” saturated fats. I bought my beef from the farmer’s market, but Whole Foods just started to carry grass-fed beef.

Searing the meat is an important step for this soup. Searing caramelizes the sugars on the meat, which creates a flavorful browned curst. Searing also creates flavor for the soup from the browned bits that form on the bottom of the pan. In restaurants and professional kitchens, these browned bits are often referred to as “love” because they have so much flavor.

To sear the meat properly, make sure it is dry and at room temperature. To do this, take the meat out of the refrigerator 30 minutes prior and pat the meat dry with a paper towel. Also, make sure the pot is hot hot hot!

The soup starts with a mirepoix, which is a classic French flavor base. I also added tomato paste, which adds a richly concentrated tomato flavor to the soup.

Pearl Barley is the most common form of barley because it is less chewy and cooks quicker than other forms of barley.

I served this soup with one of my favorite wines from Napa Valley, Charles Krug Pinot Noir.

Bon Appetit! (Julie and Julia was on TV last night)



  • 3 tablespoons grape seed oil or olive oil
  • 1 pound london broil or other stew meat, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley
  • Chopped parsley for garnish
  1. Let meat sit at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to searing. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Dry the meat with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Add the meat to the pot and sear on an all sides. Remove the meat and set on plate, set aside.
  2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pot and add the onion, carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Cook until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes until beginning to caramelize. Remove the pot from the heat and add the wine. Return to the heat and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pot using a wooden spoon. Cook for about 3 minutes until the wine has reduced.
  3. Return the meat to the pot and add in the stock, water, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
  4. Add in barley and cook until barley is tender, about 30-40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, garnish each bowl with chopped parsley.
Serves 6

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