Vegetable Beef and Barley Soup

I used to say, “Cold days call for soup.” Now it’s “Today is a good day for soup.” A good soup makes a welcome addition to any meal. It’s hard to beat a cup of soup and a sandwich or salad for lunch, and a hearty soup like this one makes an excellent dinner all by itself for up to six people.

Just serve it with a salad, good fresh bread and plenty of butter. Refrigerate any leftover soup; it will taste even better when you warm it up in a day or two.


1 lb. beef
4 cups beef broth
4 cups water
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
1 small onion (1 1/2 – 2 inch diameter)
1 medium potato
1 cup diced fresh or canned tomatoes
1 T vegetable oil
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. dried crushed basil or 1 T chopped fresh basil
2 tsp. dried parsley flakes or 2 T chopped fresh parsley
1/2 to 3/4 cup pearl barley


Trim excess fat from the meat and cut it into 3/4 inch cubes. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a soup pot and brown the meat. When the meat is browned, sprinkle the sugar over it and stir the meat briskly over medium heat to caramelize the sugar until the meat is dark brown. Add the broth, water and wine and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer covered for about thirty minutes.

While the meat is cooking, peel and chop the onion medium fine. Clean and chop the celery, carrots and potato into bite-sized pieces. Add the vegetables, salt and spices to the broth and simmer covered for another thirty minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the barley and continue simmering partially covered for 30 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

NOTES: The more barley you use, the thicker the soup will become. If you use more than 3/4 cup of barley, you should consider adding another cup of broth unless you prefer a very thick soup that resembles a stew.

If you have a Yukon gold or red potato or any other potato with a thin smooth skin, you don’t need to peel it. Just scrub it thoroughly before dicing.

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