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.

Marlene’s Sauerkraut Hotdish

Many years ago, Jerri was at a potluck at the New Richmond United Methodist Church. She really liked a hotdish made with sauerkraut, hamburger and macaroni. She asked who made it and got Marlene to share the recipe with her.

Marlene told her that it was an old family recipe.  “What memories this hotdish brings back to me!  I originally got it from my great-aunt, who almost always made it for our family get-togethers. She was the last of my Grandmother’s sisters.”  When we told Marlene that the recipe was now on line, she told us that her great aunt had passed away this summer at 98.

The recipe is a great example of how inexpensive ingredients can be combined to make a tasty meal in the wonderful tradition of church potlucks with a hint of German or eastern European flavor. It is also extremely easy and fast to make.


1 lb. hamburger
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 16 oz. can of sauerkraut
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1/2 soup can milk (We use whatever we have, usually 1%.)
2 small (4 oz.) cans of mushrooms
1 cup UNCOOKED macaroni


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Chop the onion medium. Brown the hamburger over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and continue cooking three or four minutes until it is translucent. Drain any extra fat.

Grease a two quart baking dish. Blend the milk with the soup and stir it into the meat mixture. Drain the mushrooms. Put the macaroni in a large bowl, add the mushrooms, a can of undrained sauerkraut and the meat mixture.

Mix the ingredients thoroughly and transfer the casserole to the baking dish. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

NOTES: You may omit the mushrooms or use only one can or use some sliced fresh mushrooms if you find some in the refrigerator. Jerri often uses 2 cups of homemade sauerkraut instead of a can. Just make sure that you have a couple of tablespoons of liquid with the sauerkraut.

As with many church basement hotdish recipes, the cream of mushroom soup is indispensable. Do not add salt or pepper, though guests may wish to grind a bit of fresh pepper on their serving.

Another great recipe using cabbage, meat and pasta is haluski. You’ll find the recipe here.