This Beef-iest Barley Soup recipe is rich, hearty, satisfying comfort food with huge flavor and minimal effort! The rich beefy flavor comes from searing the beef first then using the fat from the meat to cook the soffritto. The Italian version of mirepoix, soffritto starts with the same foundation of finely chopped onions, carrots, and celery. Uncooked, this combination is called the battuto. Slowly cooked in olive oil, the battuto then becomes soffritto. Cooked in butter or oil low and slow sweetens the vegetables. These slow-cooked aromatic vegetables form another layer of flavor.
Using collagen-rich chuck roast guarantees flavorful, tender beef that does not dry out. Browning the meat in larger pieces and cutting it into smaller pieces before serving the soup also keeps the meat juicy and tender. The wine is simply added to enhance and deepen the flavor of the beef broth but is optional. I strongly recommend using a low-sodium beef broth or stock for this recipe. If you use a full sodium broth or stock, the soup can become too salty.
This is truly a meal in a bowl. Of course, some crusty bread, cornbread, biscuits, or a simple green salad make it the perfect meal!
Beef-iest Barley Soup
- 1 pound chuck roast, cut into 2 to 3 inch chunks
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ cups diced carrots
- 1 cup sliced celery
- 2 cups chopped yellow onions
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- ½ cup dry red wine (optional)
- 8 cups low-sodium beef broth or stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- Parmigiano rind (optional)
- ¼ cup pearl barley
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Dab beef dry, season lightly with salt and pepper and add to pot. Do not overcrowd. Sear in two batches if necessary.
- Transfer beef to a plate and add carrots, celery, and onion to pot. Sauté over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You do not want to brown the veggies.
- Add tomato paste and garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes.
- If you are using wine, add it now and cook for 5 minutes (to cook out the alcohol).
- Add the broth, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary and thyme.
- Return the beef and any juices to the pot. Bring to a simmer; cover and simmer over low heat until beef is fairly tender. This could take 1 to 1½ hours.
- Add barley, cover and simmer until cooked through and meat is very tender, about 45 minutes.
- Remove meat from soup and cut into smaller pieces. Add to soup along with fresh parsley.