Monday, October 11, 2010

Barley Soup with Beef and Mushrooms

Fall is soup season. This weekend was unseasonably warm for fall, but I had plans to make this soup and was looking forward to it too much to take it off this week's menu. This soup really captured the flavors of the season because the onions, mushrooms, carrots, and celery were all from the farmer's market. I was actually inspired to make this soup because grass-fed stew meat from Black Earth Meats is on sale at the Willy Street Co-op this month and I wanted to find a way to use it. (In addition to striving to buy as much of food from local and organic sources as possible, I also am budget-conscious.) This soup is hearty, but not heavy, and made for an extremely satisfying meal alongside a nice side salad and slice of pumpkin wild rice bread from Cress Spring Bakery (also all from the farmer's market). The beer adds a lot of flavor to the soup with very little effort, but if you don't want to use beer, substitute additional stock or water. It was delicious for lunch the next day as well, with new flavors developing as the ingredients were allowed to sit together overnight.

Barley Soup with Beef and Mushrooms
adapted from Whole Foods
serves 4 to 6

1 pound beef brisket, London broil, stew meat, or chuck roast, cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 pound small mushrooms, (creminis, button mushrooms, etc.), halved
4 cups beef broth
One 12-ounce bottle dark, full-flavored beer (porter, stout, etc.-I used Lake Louie Warped Speed Scotch Ale)
1/2 cup uncooked pearled barley
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large carrots, cut into bite-size pieces
3 ribs celery, cut into bite-size pieces
Chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)

1. Trim fat from meat. Heat oil in a large pot and brown meat on all sides. Pour off excess fat. Add onions and mushrooms and sauté until onions are golden.
2. Add water or broth, barley, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer 1 1/2 hours. Add carrots and celery and simmer 30 minutes longer or until vegetables and meat are tender, adding more water if necessary. Remove the bay leaf. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired, and serve.

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