February 2, 2010

Vegetable Beef Soup (with Barley)

I almost didn't post this recipe, because it isn't really a recipe at all. I have never made vegetable beef, beef barley, vegetable beef barley, or any combination of vegetables, beef and barley in a soup before - and I couldn't find a recipe that had everything I wanted...so this was an experiment. It did turn out really good - but some of the stuff I did was unnecessary (like cook the veggies separately in the slow cooker - FAIL! They weren't even done after cooking all day on warm/low, so I had to put them on the stove anyway), so I will tell you the right way to do things and try to keep it as organized as possible. Ha!

Vegetable Beef Soup (with Barley)
  • 1.5 lbs of cooked shredded beef (I did a big rump roast in the crock pot over night with 1 cup red wine, 1 bottle of beer and a couple of tablespoons of beef bouillon. After skimming the fat off I reserved about 2-3 cups of the juice and cut the roast in half...used half here and put the other half with rest of juices in freezer for later use.)
  • Veggies! You can use frozen veggies - I won't tell. I used fresh though. Steve and I basically walked around the produce department and decided what we wanted: 1 small bag of carrots, 2 potatoes, 1/2 package of celery, one whole package of green beans and an onion. Then I grabbed a bag of frozen peas (and used about 2 cups) and a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes. Use whatever veggies you want - leeks, turnips, or zucchini would be good in here too. So would mushrooms!
  • Pearl Barley (I used the regular stuff, not the quick cooking. Cause that would be too easy)
  • 2-3 of the 32 oz cartons of fat free/reduced sodium beef broth (or homemade beef stock if you have it)
  • Olive Oil
  • beef bouillon*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic (depends on how many vampires are in your area)
  • thyme (I used dried)*
  • basil (I used dried)*
  • oregano (dried)*
  • a little shake (or two) of pizza and pasta magic
  • salt, pepper, white sugar*
*Sorry that I don't put the amounts in for these...I just think spices are such a personal thing. Besides, I just dump, taste, dump, taste, etc. with a little cooking time in between. I would start with a tablespoon of each herb and the sugar, and then work your way up from there.  Salt and pepper just do to your liking.

Have your meat cooked, shredded (or diced) and set aside. Dice up all of your veggies into bite sized pieces and saute them, in batches, in olive oil (except for peas and the tomatoes) until they are just starting to get tender (but not soft - they will cook more later!). Some veggies, like green beans, won't take as long to soften as other veggies, like carrots, so keep that in mind while you are doing this. When tender, throw all of your veggies into a big stockpot/soup kettle, add beef broth, meat (if you used my crock pot recipe, also add a couple cups of the liquid from the meat), and spices (like I said, start with a tablespoon and adjust later). Bring to a boil, then add the rinsed barley (I forgot to rinse my barley before I added it. I didn't die, or even get sick. Please don't tell me that barley grows in poop or something and that's why you need to wash it). Let it all simmer for 45 min - 1 hour, then turn it down to low and start taste-testing and adjusting the seasonings until it's where you want it. I found that I needed to add a lot of beef bouillon to get the sodium that I wanted. Part of the reason for this is that my barley soaked up more of my broth than I wanted, and I was out of beef broth so I had to add a couple cups of water.

Sorry that this is kinda scattered and random - that is pretty much how I think these days! Enjoy!

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