This is a cold February day warm-you-up to your bones kind of soup. Nothing flashy. No one is going to say “wow, that sounds amazing” when you mention beef barley soup, but when they taste it, they are going to get very quiet as they feel the warmth and nutrition begin to course through their veins. Then, they will likely ask for more.
- Chuck steak or beef shoulder steak
- Green Beans
- Carrots (rainbow if you can find them)
- Soy Sauce
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Dry Thyme
- Dry Rubbed Sage
- Beef Marrow Bones
- Beef Broth
Choosing the Beef
I prefer chuck steak for this and most slow-cooked beef dishes. However, they had none when I went ingredient shopping for this recipe. I decided on a beef shoulder steak. It wasn’t overly fatty, but still had a good amount of intramuscular fat (marbling).
You can make this with any type of beef just remember if it is too lean it will have a dry mouth-feel and will be unpleasant to chew. If this is your plan, I understand, food prices are absurd right now. If you do decide on a leaner cheaper cut, you should cook the beef till it begins to fall apart in the broth. Maybe 2 1/2 to 3 hours before adding the vegetables.
Yeah, it’s a thing. I used to think it was a made-up term to make fancy chefs feel superior. The more I learn about how human taste works, and the flavor of umami, I am forced to admit it is a real flavor. Most people just don’t have the vocabulary to describe it, or perhaps the dietary diversity to recognize it.
That’s ok. In laymen’s terms, it means the flavor of certain fatty acids and triglycerides. You can find it in mushrooms, meats, many fermented foods like seaweed… I know right? It is nuts how prevalent it is.
I like to use umami-rich ingredients especially with beef dishes to create an “umami bomb”. I use soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce in this soup to expand on the umami already present in the beef. Combined with the hard sear I give the beef, the umami in this soup is off the charts!
You can use any veggies you have around for this. I actually planned to use celery instead of green beans, but I discovered a bag of fresh green beans that needed to be used before they went slimy. So, I adapted to the needs of my refrigerator. It wanted food removed before it went bad, and I was happy to oblige.
As for the carrots. Any carrots will do. I saw these rainbow baby carrots and decided they would look pretty when I took my final photos of the dish. The point is, feel free to add or swap any veggies you like in this dish. It will taste better because you made it your own, I promise.
Searing the Beef
In the video, you see I added 1/2 of the beef at first. I just let it cook on high heat for 5-7 minutes till it got a nice dark crust, and a rich fond developed in the pan (“Fond is French for “base” and commonly refers to the browned bits and caramelized drippings of meat and vegetables that are stuck to the bottom of a pan after sautéing or roasting.”) – Google
This browning is the wellspring from which all beefy goodness flows… I’m serious! It is science. Don’t fight it.
I added half so that the meat could actually develop a fond and a nice crust. If I had added it all at once the pan would not be able to evaporate the liquids being released by the meat as it cooked. Resulting in effectively boiled meat. Nice browning on half of the meat will provide plenty of flavors to combine with the broth.
Its Good Fat, I Promise
The one unexpected thing that happened with this dish is the amount of fat there was at the end. I racked my brain trying to figure out where it came from because I trimmed the beef well, and there wasn’t enough muscular fat to account for what was floating on the surface of the broth. I came to the conclusion that it came from the marrow bones. This means it is packed with all the good stuff that makes bone marrow so nutritious. I decided not to skim it. You of course can deal with this fat as you see fit.
Thanks for reading, and happy cooking.
Rustic Beef and Barley Soup
- Standard Stove
- Cutting Board
- Spurtles/Wooden Spoon
- Medium Pot
- Medium Mixing Bowl
- 1.5 lb Beef Chuck Steak or Shoulder Steak
- 1 cup Chopped Carrots
- 1 cup Chopped Green Beans
- 1/3 cup Pearled Barley
- 2 cloves Fresh Chopped Garlic
- 1/2 lb Beef Marrow Bones (optional)
- 4 cups Beef broth
- 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
- 3 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/2 tsp Dry Thyme
- 1/2 tsp Dry Sage
- Trim excess fat from beef steak and cut into one-inch cubes.
- In a medium mixing bowl toss beef cubes with 1 tsp each, salt and black pepper.
- Place medium pot on medium high heat with 1 tbsp vegetable oil. When pot is hot and oil begins to smoke add one half of the cubed beef evenly covering the bottom of the pot.
- Sear beef without moving it for 5-7 minutes till dark crust forms on beef, and a rich fond develops on the bottom of the pan.
- Add the remaining uncooked beef to the pot and continue cooking and stirring till most of the pink is no longer visible.
- Add marrow bones garlic thyme and, sage. Along with the soy sauce Worcestershire, and beef broth. Cover pot. Bring to low simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
- After 1 1/2 hours add barley and chopped vegetables. Continue simmering for one more hour. Beef should be very tender, and vegetables cooked through.
- Remove marrow bones, and skim excess fat if desired, and serve.
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