I love soup. It’s the quintessential meal, especially when paired with some great bread and a salad. While I can appreciate the convenience that canned soup offers, especially on busy days, I can do without the preservatives and sodium that it inevitably contains. I try to make my own whenever I can so that I have more control over what goes in (and so that it tastes better), and while I love a lot of different types of soup, beef barley is one of my favourites. It’s hearty, satisfying, easy, and delicious. Whenever I make soup I try to make a large pot so that there are lots of leftovers for the week ahead, and for the freezer once I get sick of eating the same thing 4 days in a row. Be warned – this makes a pretty big pot so invite your neighbours over for dinner and clear out your freezer, we’ve got a job to do!
Let’s make some, shall we?
The cast of characters:
~ 3 oz double-smoked bacon
~ 2.5 lbs cubed beef
~ 4 medium onions
~ 7 carrots
~ 7 stalks celery
~ 4 medium turnip
~1.5 c pearl barley
~ 14 c beef stock
~ handful parsley
Cut the bacon into small pieces, and saute in a large pot until the fat has rendered and its nicely browned. Remove it with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Into the same pan, add about 1/3 – 1/2 of the beef cubes and brown them. Don’t crowd the pan – it will prevent the meat from browning properly. Repeat until all of the beef is browned. While I was browning the first batch, I thought that coating the remaining meat with a light coating of flour might be a good idea…so I did! You can do that too, if you feel so inclined, or just brown it without the flour. When all of the beef is browned, remove it and set aside.
Not sure about you, but I find that the double-smoked bacon isn’t nearly as fatty as regular bacon, so I didn’t drain the little fat that was in there before adding the beef. However, if you’re using regular bacon and find that there’s a lot of fat, drain some off before adding the beef.
Meanwhile, while the beef is browning, chop up all of the veggies. i went for about a 1cm dice for everything, because I wanted to ensure that every bite of soup would have a bit of everything in it. Once the beef is done and removed, throw all of the veggies into the same pot and stir around, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Starting to smell really good now!
Once the veggies have started to soften a bit, throw in the barley…
…and stir so that everything is mixed together. You know what this is missing? Garlic. not sure how that could slip past me! Throw in a few minced cloves for good measure – 4 should do the trick. Yes, much better. This soup is also missing parsnips, but the grocery store was all out. Go ahead and add some with the rest of the veggies if you feel so inclined though; they’re a great addition! Cover the pot and let everything get acquainted for about 10 minutes or so.
Then, add the bacon and beef back into the pot…
…stir everything together, and then cover with the beef stock and the bay leaves.
Bring the soup to a boil, and then simmer for 45 mins or so.
While the soup is simmering, chop some parsley…
So, are you ready to eat yet or what?!?! I know I am. Taste the soup for seasonings, adding salt and pepper as desired. Remove the bay leaves, and stir in some of the chopped parsley to brighten everything up. Once the flavour is where you want it, ladle the soup into your bowl ASAP and garnish with additional parsley. Bon appetit!