Beef and barley soup

Yeah, you can get this in a can, blech! When made right, it is a truly excellent and satisfying meal. First, cook the meat and make the stock.

3 lb beef shortribs
1 c carrots in large chunks
1 c celery in large chunks
3 shallots, peeled and quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 c red wine
few sprigs fresh parsley, stems removed
1/2 tsp dried thyme
4 c water + additional if needed
1 tsp salt
10 whole black peppercorns

Heat a TB of oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Pat the ribs dry with a paper towel and add to the pan (you may need to do this in 2 batches to avoid crowding the ribs). Brown slowly over medium heat, turning, until nicely browned on all sides. Transfer to large stock pot. Repeat with the second batch of ribs, if needed. Don’t worry about any fat that accumulates, it will be removed later.

In the same pan, saute the carrots, shallots, and celery over medium-high heat, stirring now and then, until starting to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for another couple of minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping the pan to dislodge any “brown bits” from the bottom. Boil until reduced in volume by about half. Add to the stock pot along with the parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, and water. If needed, add more water to cover the ribs by about an inch.

Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to get the most gentle of simmers. Cover and cook for about 3 hours. Remove the ribs, take the meat off the bone, and shred into the size you want for the soup; set aside. Discard bones and trimmings. Strain the stock thru a cheesecloth-lined colander and discard the solids. If necessary, skim off any excess fat from the surface. You should have about 5 cups. Can be done ahead.

Now, make the soup.

The beef stock and meat
2-3 large onions peeled and cut into thin half-rings (about 1 quart)
1/2 c pearled barley
2 tsp pomegranate molasses (see note)
1 c frozen pearl onions
3 TB unsalted butter
2 c chicken stock

In a large skillet, melt the butter and cook the sliced onions slowly, with a big pinch of salt, stirring once in a while, until browned and soft, 30 to 45 minutes. Add the chicken stock and pomegranate molasses and stir to scrape up any bits stuck to the pan. Add to the beef stock along with the barley and bring to a gentle simmer. After 15 minutes add the pearl onions and continue simmering until the barley and pearl onions are done. Add reserved meat, correct seasoning.

This soup can be served with country bread or cornbread. It can be made a day ahead and reheated.

Note: Pomegranate molasses is a great addition to your pantry. It’s a thick syrup that combines tartness with sweetness, and small amounts add a hard-to-describe flavor undertone to many dishes. I even like to mix it with seltzer for a refreshing drink. Available at middle eastern markets.

Explore posts in the same categories: Beef, Soups

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