Rare snow has fallen in various places around the South today. My Facebook feed has been full of pictures of empty grocery store shelves in Columbia, South Carolina, Rhonda Faye’s weather updates from Raceland, Louisiana, and stories of friends making the best of it by scraping together enough snow for a snowball fight and sliding down hills on plastic garbage can lids. A less fortunate one tells of sliding down icy stairs and losing his glasses. Two of my favorite posts have been about “light sneaux” in south Louisiana and no snow in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina according to a friend who posted this adorable pic of his sandman. Mostly my friends are writing about being toasty and cozy at home with mugs of coffee and hot chocolate. I hope they all embrace my snow day tradition of getting out the dutch oven and filling it with something warm, delicious and comforting.
This Beef, Root Vegetable & Barley Soup is perfect for cold winter nights. I made a big pot last week when my friend Jan drove down from Philly to visit for a few days. Given her penchant for beef pot pies, I knew she’d love it. The broth has an incredibly deep, soul-soothing flavor that will warm you up and fill you with contentment. Magic stuff!
Beef, Root Vegetable & Barley Soup
- 4 1/2 pounds beef stew meat
- 8-10 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 8-10 cups beef stock
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 3 medium carrots, peeled, halved and cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 3 medium parsnips, peeled, halved and cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 3 ribs celery, halved and cut into 1/4 slices
- 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
- 8 ounces Crimini mushrooms, sliced into 1/3 inch slices
- 1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 3/4 cup pearl barley
- Pat the meat dry with paper towels.
- Pour enough oil into a large heavy-bottom dutch oven to coat the bottom. Heat the oil until it is hot, but not smoking.
- Add a single layer of meat to the pot and brown over medium heat, turning often, for 4-5 minutes. Do not add too much meat at one time or it will stew rather than brown.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the browned meat from the oil and transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat until all the meat is browned.
- When the last batch is browned, add the meat back to the pot and stir in the garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until the garlic is golden.
- Add 8 cups of beef stock, Worcestershire, soy sauce, pepper and thyme sprigs. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
- While the meat is cooking, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the carrots, parsnips, celery and onion. Sauté until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
- Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet, turn the heat up to high and add the mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms 4-5 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside, separately from the other vegetables.
- After the meat has cooked for 1 1/2 hours, add the sautéed onion, carrot, parsnips and celery along with the potato and barley. Add more beef stock if needed.
- Bring to a simmer and cook until the barley and meat are tender, about 45-60 minutes. Add the sautéed mushrooms to the soup and simmer for about 5 minutes more.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Yield: 8-10 servings
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours