Fall has arrived! The weather is cooler, the leaves are beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red, and soup is the perfect food for this season! I know my body has been craving warmer, slightly heavier foods (whereas I eat a lot of salads and lighter foods in the summer). I've been wanting to use the barley I have in my pantry, and so I decided to make soup! I've made beef barley soup before, my I like to experiment in the kitchen, so I made up my own recipe this time, using what I had in the pantry and in the fridge.
This recipe could easily be made vegetarian simply by excluding the meat. It would still be a warm, hearty soup, perfect for fall!
Beef Barley Soup with Sweet Potatoes
1 pkg. lean beef suitable for stewing (I try to buy organic, grass fed, farm raised whenever it's possible, because the animals are not injected with hormones and other chemicals - either directly or via their feed, and often they're treated more humanely as well)
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
3 medium sweet potatoes
1 russet potato
3 stalks celery
1 pkg/8oz. baby portabella or white button mushrooms
1 1/2 cups uncooked barley
2 cups low sodium, all natural (no MSG) vegetable stock
seasonings: Salt, Pepper, Cumin, Italian Seasoning, Ginger, soy sauce
I like to do all my prep work to start, then I just have to add things in.
Chop all your veggies - the onion, garlic, sweet potatoes & potatoes (1 inch chunks). Dice the mushrooms. Slice the carrots and celery - bite sized pieces, not smaller. Cut your beef into 1 inch chunks.
Swirl some extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of a large soup pot. Turn the burner on medium high. Toss in the onion, then the beef. Cook several minutes until the meat is browned. Add in the garlic, sweet potatoes and barley. Then add your 2 cups of broth, and enough water to fill the pot 2/3 full (maybe 6 cups of water?). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, so the soup is still simmering. Leave it uncovered. Simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes. Then add the mushrooms, carrots, celery and seasonings.
For the seasonings, I eyeball it, but here are approximate measurements:
1/2 teasp. salt (you could always add more later)
1/2 teasp. pepper (or less to your taste)
1 teasp. cumin
1 teasp. Italian seasoning
1/4 teasp. ground ginger - (or use fresh in a higher quantity if you have it on-hand)
a couple shakes of soy sauce - maybe 1 - 2 Tblsp.?
Cook for another 25 to 30 minutes. The soup should be done. Great served with a crusty whole grain bread on the side, and a raw spinach salad with raisins and a vinagrette dressing.