We’ve had a pretty good run on mild weather this fall. As I walked my dogs this morning the red, yellow and orange leaves on the trees glistened in the sunlight. While the cool breeze and rustling of leaves on the ground felt so comforting. Yet, this evening we are expecting storms with temperatures dropping from the mid 70s (unusual for this time of year) down into the 30s overnight, with highs tomorrow only near 50.
Time to say goodbye to the beautiful leaves. Almost instantly the trees will be bare as the leaves fall to cover the earth.
In anticipation of the approaching fall chill, I decided to cook something warm and soothing for dinner – Beef Barley Stew.
To stew typically means that the dish contains meat, vegetables and a thick soup-like broth resulting from a combination of the stewing liquid and the natural juices of the food being stewed. It’s a method of cooking of which food is barely covered with liquid and simmered slowly for a long period of time in a covered pot. Stewing not only tenderizes tough pieces of meat but also allows the flavors of the ingredients to blend perfectly making a luscious one pot meal.
Barley which is prominent in this dish, is a whole grain, rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and amino acids essential for our health. More importantly, barley is one of the richest sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber aids in proper excretion of waste products in the body, while soluble fiber (known as beta glucan) mixes with liquid, binds to fatty substances and allows them to leave the body. Barley is also seen rich in tocotrienols, an antioxidant that helps lessen risk for contracting heart disease and cholesterol problems. (More facts about Barley)
In addition to barley, many nutritious vegetables are present in this stew – celery, carrots, mushrooms, garlic and onions. When seeking a hearty soup loaded with veggies I recommend this thick, luscious, Beef Barley Stew!
If making this dish, don’t try to rush it. Take your time and allow the stew to cook slowly over a low heat for optimal flavor and tenderness of the meat and vegetables.
I find it’s best to make stew the day before then after cooling, place in the refrigerator covered, overnight. An hour before serving set the pot back onto the stove and heat up slowly, stirring often so the bottom doesn’t burn. The results are heavenly!
Here’s the recipe, I hope you like it:
Beef Barley Soup
3 lb. meaty beef or veal shanks
3 large yellow onions, chopped
6 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup tomato puree
1 cup barley
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter (could substitute olive oil by 1/2 but butter tastes best)
Place the shanks (or beef stew meat) in a saucepan and add water to cover generously. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming often to remove any foam that forms on the surface. (Never allow a stock to boil. As meat and bones cook, they release proteins and fats into the surrounding liquid…. At a slow simmer, these components appear as scum on top of the stock and can be skimmed. If the stock is boiling, these substances are churned back into the stock and become emulsified. The resulting stock is cloudy and has a dull, muddy, greasy flavor, which will only worsen if the stock is reduced for a sauce”).
Add about two-thirds of the chopped onions, the carrots and celery, reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, for about 1 hour. Add the tomato puree and barley, cover partially and continue to cook over low heat until the barley is tender, about 1 hour more.
While the soup is cooking, in a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the remaining chopped onions and sauté, stirring occasionally, until pale gold, 10 to 12 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring often, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, reduce the heat to medium and sauté until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes more. Season with salt, pepper and 2 Tbs. of the dill.
Remove the shanks from the pan (if using) and, when cool enough to handle, cut the meat from the bone. Chop and reserve the meat; you should have about 1 1/3 cups.
Add the mushroom mixture and the reserved meat to the pan and stir to heat through. Season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with sour cream and parsley if desired.
Note: I used beef stew meat. However, for a more superior flavor use beef or veal shanks. If using beef stew meat there’s no need to remove the meat after it’s been cooked to cut into bite size pieces. The beef stew meat already comes that way.
Hi, I’m Vicki Bensinger! I have been teaching culinary classes throughout Missouri since 1992. I offer personalized private culinary classes for individuals and small groups in the comfort of your home or organization.