Pearl barley is the very definition of comfort food for me. It takes me straight back to childhood – to lunches of homemade soup and grilled cheese sandwiches round the kitchen table to fortify us against whatever winter weather northern Canada was serving up outside.
I read somewhere once that “Canadians eat for ballast”, to ensure they aren’t swept away by an Arctic blast when they venture out of doors. There may be some truth in that…;-)
Whatever the reason, beef barley soup is the kind of thing I crave now that winter is making a belated appearance in the UK.
Beef barley soup
- 500g stewing beef, cut into bite-size pieces
- salt and pepper
- 1 Tb sunflower oil
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1.25 litres water (or beef stock)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup pearl barley
- Pat the meat dry with paper towel, then season with salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat, and brown the pieces of meat all over. (Do this in batches if necessary.)
- Add the carrots, onion and celery, sauté for a few minutes, then add the garlic.
- Add the water or stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, add the bay leaves, cover and cook for about one and a half hours, or until the beef is tender.
- Rinse the barley well, then add to the pot. Simmer for another 30 minutes, half covered, until the barley is tender. Adjust the seasoning and serve.