1 pound lean stew beef, cut in ½-inch cubes
½ cup chopped onion
2 ribs celery, chopped (I substituted with fresh green beans)
2 medium carrots, diced
¾ cup barley
1 bay leaf
6 cups broth (I substituted with red wine with help from this link)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
pepper, to taste
In crockpot, combine stew beef with onion, celery, carrots, barley, bay leaf, and beef broth. Cook beef and barley soup on LOW in crockpot for 6 to 8 hours. Taste and add salt and pepper, to taste.
First of all, there were not nearly enough vegetables in this recipe! To start, I prepared (for the first time ever) stewed tomatoes specifically for this recipe. I looked up an easy way to do so here; it was time-consuming, and the tomatoes were a smidge difficult to peel (I may not have boiled them long enough, though the recipe called for 30 seconds), but it was worth it knowing it would be organic! I also wanted to add corn. I already knew how to shuck corn from experience growing up (if you’ve never done it, go here and discover how easy it is!), so I only had to look up how to remove corn from the cob when it was uncooked (turns out it is pretty easy, as shown here).
Second, as you saw in the recipe, I substituted half of the servings of beef broth (because it is loaded with sodium and preservatives) with red wine, and half of the servings with water, cup for cup. I am also not a big fan of celery, so I substituted that with fresh green beans found in the produce section.
I ended up making more work for myself with the corn and the stewed tomatoes, but this recipe is SO EASY! There is no pre-cooking of the beef necessary…no pre-cooking of anything required, actually, except for the tomatoes (if you decide to put them in). Just pour all of the ingredients into your slow-cooker and let the hours pass you by…next thing you know, you’ve got a delicious stew waiting for you!
Oh my. It was SO good! I’ve never had barley before, but a friend of mine has been recommending beef barley soup for almost a year now, so I finally caved. It wasn’t a thick soup, per say. I’m not sure if that had anything to do with the wine (which, because the wine is so strong, if you’re not a red wine person—which, actually I’m not—you may want to stick with the beef broth…which you can make organically by saving the “juices” from a pot roast or something of the like). But it was definitely tasty. The tastes from every ingredient had melted into the stew, and it was incredibly flavorful. I had more than two bowls before I called it quits for the night. I may have been stuffed to the brim but believe me—it was worth it!
And I really can’t stress enough how easy this meal is to make. Sure, if you want fresh corn or tomatoes (or beef broth), it’ll require some work…but honestly, the bulk of it is done by your slow cooker. No effort necessary. Just combine ingredients, and relax while you wait!
Difficulty Rating (low 0 – 5 high)
Would I Cook It Again?
Without a doubt. I think I’ll add more beef next time though–never can get enough of that protein!
Rattray, Diana. “Beef Barley Soup Recipe.” Southern Food. About.com. 19 March 2014. Web. 2007.