Soup’s On: Beef and Barley

Did you know January is National Soup Month?

No surprise. When it’s cold, you want food that’s warm and comforting. Plus, the aromas that fill the house as that pot of good stuff simmers on the stove—well, put that in a bottle and call me in for supper because the way to my heart is definitely through my stomach, especially if we’re talking about homemade soup.

I have many favourites, but today called for beef barley.

I had everything on hand except homemade beef stock (which I prefer to use), but you can use store-bought, too.  The recipe I used is from the Canada Beef website. The site has a ton of info on Canadian beef (did you know the beef industry contributes almost $25 billion to the Canadian economy annually?!?), and all recipes are created and tested by food pros.

This is a very easy recipe, but you’re going to need about 2 hours from start to finish.

Beef and Barley Soup


1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil

1 lb (500 g) Beef Stewing Cubes, trimmed (I bought a 3 lb boneless blade roast, hacked off 1 lb and cut it into cubes)

6 cup (1.5 L) vegetables, cut in small pieces (i.e. onions, carrots, celery, rutabaga, and/or potatoes (I used parsnips because I don’t like rutabagas; so, add the veg you like)

1 – 14 oz can of tomatoes (Not part of original recipe, but I like tomatoes in my beef soup, so the choice is yours. If you do add them,  do not used diced or crushed. They’ll breakdown on their own, or you can mash them a bit)

¼ cup (50 mL) pot or pearl barley  (don’t be tempted to add more even if it looks like it’s not enough. Pearl Barley cooks to 3X the original amount)

1 can (10 oz/284 mL) beef broth (I used 1 litre of broth)

¼ tsp (1 mL) dried thyme

¼ tsp (1 mL) dillweed

¼ tsp (1 mL) pepper

1 bay leaf


Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat; brown beef cubes. Add onions, sweat them for 5 minutes.

Stir in vegetables, barley, broth, thyme, dillweed, pepper and bay leaf.

Add 4 cups (1 L) water*; bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer; cover and cook for about 2 hours or until beef and barley are tender.  (*If you use 1 litre of broth like I did, omit the part about adding 4 cups of water here)

Oops, what’s this gin and tonic doing in there?  Soup-making is thirsty work… carry on.

Discard bay leaf before serving.

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