What could be more satisfying on a brisk March day than a serving of
Beef and Barley soup?
One cup of barley went into a cold skillet as this soup was “born”…I toasted it gently over a medium-low heat, stirring to make sure it did not brown too quickly. This process took about 5 minutes and the elegant aroma of toasting barley made for time well spent!
Next came a box of chicken broth.
SIDEBAR: Beef broth would have been preferable but you know that we use what we have because the Kitchen Kops do not CARE! END SIDEBAR.
There was a container of beef I had browned for another meal in the freezer. It was a perfect item to use for this soup! The block of beef, still frozen, went into the broth, as did the toasted barley.
While the heat thawed the meat and warmed the broth I chopped up an onion and 3 or 4 ribs of celery, using a rough chop. Those went into a bit of oil in my trusty cast iron skillet for a quick saute`…at this point the kitchen began to smell divine.
As lunchtime neared and the stirring and aroma were making the household eager for the meal to be served, I decided to add a bit of color. *The color was completely optional. If you do not have ‘gravy booster’ liquid in your pantry, do not worry your head about it.
Two small spoonfuls of the liquid made for a beefy looking broth. Then I made an executive decision: the broth was too thin. With a bit of cold water and about 3 teaspoons of corn starch mixed together, I added the thickener to the soup and the new consistency pleased me no end!
I let it simmer on a very low heat while I put a meat patty into a hot skillet. I love the sizzle that happens when cold beef hits a hot surface!
SIDEBAR: The meat in the patty was left from the day I made stuffed red peppers. As I mentioned in a recent Cooking Class, a meat loaf mixture can be made and used for not only meat loaf, but for meat balls, meat patties and stuffed peppers. Saves time, gives the cook options and tastes divine! END SIDEBAR.
When the meat was sufficiently browned on one side, I flipped it to cook the other side. While it took care of business on its own, I spread mayo on brown bread and added some crisp lettuce leaves to make sandwiches as companions to the soup.
A Quality Assurance taste test reminded me that thyme would add a bit of zip so I sprinkled ever so little into the soup and gave it one last stir.
As you can see by the photo above, the soup looked quite good enough to eat! Sorry; I forgot to photograph the sandwiches, which were wondermous, btw. Our house guest did not know they were sammies; she called them by their English name: “butties”. She pronounces that “buh ti’ as with a short ‘i’. We giggled our way through lunch, as you might imagine.
If you have barley in your pantry, you could make it into a hearty soup all on its own, without meat. I thin you will find it to be filling, nutritious and inexpensive. Paired with sandwiches or salad or fruit you have a simple meal that is easy to prepare, quick to fix, and very budget friendly.
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