Saturday, February 11, 2012

Beef and Barley Slow Cooker Soup

It looks like Mother Nature has finally stopped playing "spin the bottle" on what season it is. It's finally raining!  Of course, we Californians don't have a true Four Seasons.  Yes, we're spoiled. We also pay hefty taxes, so I guess we're even.

Recipe#3 that I've made from this cookbook.

Did I ever mention that I meant my shy and handsome husband at a golf course? No?

Take note, those of you mature single women who are hoping to meet a single man-- golf courses are ripe for the picking! I figured that out, when I found myself divorced, with a teenage son, 8 years ago.  I hadn't torn up the dance floor since the BeeGee's were all the rage, after Saturday Night Fever was a box office smash.  So, I took golf lessons and started a Singles Golf Club.  True story.  Oh, did I mention that I used to help recruit members?  Never let is be said that I'm not an enterprising woman.

What does golf have to do with this recipe?  You have to think as I do. Random.  This weekend is the world famous AT&T Golf Tournament at Pebble Beach.  That means that I'm staying home-- far and away from the crowds.  It also means that it's raining today, because the tournament will usually bring out the Rain Gods.   That means soup is a perfect meal. My man loves them--especially anything with barley. 

To make Beef and Barley soup, you begin with.... well, naturally, you would buy beef.  I learned a tip from America's Test Kitchen that has forever changed what kind of beef I use for soups and stews. If you've never heard of chuck eye roast, please ask your butcher about it.  Unliked neat labeled "stew cut", I find that chuck eye roast is very tender.

To begin with the soup, it does start with a skillet. Using a couple tablespoons of vegetable (in my case, I used olive oil), cooked chopped onion, some tomato paste, and thyme (dried or fresh) until the onions are softened and slightly browned.

This takes about 8-10 minutes. In the meantime...I lined my removable slow cooker insert with a plastic liner (easily found at your local grocery store). These make cleanup super easy.

To build more flavor, we add dry red wine, then add the cooked onions to the slow cooker.  Next, we add in crushed tomatoes, beef and chicken broth, chopped carrots... sauce (I use Tamari sauce), 

...barley and then the cut up meat, that has been seasoned with salt & pepper. At this point, I covered the slow cooker insert, put it into the fridge and went to bed.  Obviously, if you are a homemaker, you can do all of this earlier on the same day you want the soup.   Early in the morning, I turned on the slow cooker to the low setting and came home 11 hours later.  

This is when I don't gripe about having to prep my slow cooker meal, the night before.  It's a nice feeling to come home to smelling your dinner cooking away.  ATK says to remove the meat, and then shred it into bite-sized pieces. I skipped that step, by cutting my pieces into bite-sized chunks in the first place.  Simple details.  I didn't have much fat to skim off the top, either. 
I added some fresh chopped parsley, made a quick green salad and sliced some fresh French Bread.

For the finishing touch, we had a roaring fire going and listened to much needed rainfall outside.  

TASTING NOTES:   This soup has a very rich red color to it, because of the crushed tomatoes and red wine.  The beef is super tender.  I felt a little disappointed in that I didn't go with my gut instinct to increase the amount of barley from 1/4 cup to at least 1/2 cup.  I really appreciate a higher barley to beef ratio, and I could barely detect in the soup.  As for the flavor, I liked it.  I'm a lover of all things flavored tomato, but I felt that the crushed tomato overpowered the flavor of the beef.  However, my son disagreed with me. He loved this soup.  That is not to say that this isn't a good recipe. It is.  I would say that you need to adjust the recipe to have less tomato, if that's your preference.  I would definitely double up on the pearl barley, if not more. Other than that, this is a lovely soup and I would make it again. 

I am glad that I have re-bonded with my slow cooker.  Sure, I spend a half hour prepping dinner the night before. But, it is gives me the next night off from having to prep, cook and clean pots and pans.  I've bookmarked a few more recipes from this cookbook that I hope will be as good as the last three I've posted and shared with you. Let's see who won my giveaway to receive a copy of America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution.

I think I'll tune in to our local news to see how Tiger Woods and all the other professional golfers are doing with this weekend's golf tournament.   Did I also mention that I haven't swung a golf club in about four  years?  At least I scored well with my Valentine-- my wonderful husband.  I figure that once we both retire, we'll have plenty of time to hit the putting greens.

A printable recipe card is at the end of this post.

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Joanne said...

Of all the places I've gone to look for men, I have NEVER attempted a golf course! Shame on me.

Mmm I made barley soup today and forgot how much I loved it. This looks great!

Chaitea said...

Mmmmm that looks really good.
It's too bad the barley flavor didn't show up more
The texture and beef looks really great

Valerie said...

Debby, this soup looks amazing! I ♥ barley. :D

Suzanne said...

I must make this! We love soup/stews of any kind and this one looks perfect. I have some barley calling my name as we speak.

Deb in Hawaii said...

Such a hearty and delicious looking soup. I am with you--bring on the barley! ;-) Thanks for sharing with Souper Sundays.

All Things Yummy said...

Yay, I can't wait to try the cookbook.
That's a great story about how you met your husband.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

You were smart to stay indoors on the day of the tournament. With a delicious soup like that, I'd be indoors too, eating a big bowl. Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours.

Deb said...

Barley and beef were ment for each other! What a great slow cooker recipe, a life saver for hectic days.

Brenda Z. said...

Debby, I made this soup today and followed your recommendation for doubling the barley. I also used a 28-oz can of diced tomatoes instead of the crushed tomatoes. I decided to add some mushrooms as well. Wow, it was absolutely wonderful! So flavorful, and I can't wait to have it tomorrow, as I'm sure the flavors will blend even more. Thanks for posting this!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for not only making this soup, but giving us your tasting notes, too. I recently borrowed a copy of Slow Cooker Revolution from the library, and because beef and barley is one of my favorite soups, I knew I was going to make it. Since I cook from my iPad, it was obvious I'd need to find it online so I could import it to my app. So Google, naturally, and Bingo! I found everything I need to know about this recipe.

Because the book doesn't have a photo of this recipe, I had no way to know that the tomato would be so prominent, nor that there wasn't enough barley to suit me. No way, that is, until I saw your photos and read your tasting notes. So thank you! I will be using much less tomato (beef soup should have beefy broth) and adding more barley (because barley) when I make it. Around here, that's usually late November. But I'll be ready, thanks to you!

Tampa, FL