- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 11, 2005

This is a super season for soup — nothing warms and satisfies on a chilly day better than a great bowl of soup.

The following recipe is an updated version of a classic beef and barley soup, brimming with savory broth, whole-grain barley, vegetables and beef.

Instead of simmering for hours, this soup needs only minutes, given the availability of quick-cooking beef choices, including shoulder-top blade steaks and shoulder-center steak.

This meal-in-a-bowl can be ready in just 30 minutes, start to finish.

Cutting lean beef into strips shortens cooking time; quick-cooking whole-grain barley replaces the longer-cooking variety; and frozen peas and packaged baby carrots are ready to use. The soup also contains plenty of mushrooms and a savory cooking liquid seasoned with onions and garlic.

Quick classic beef barley soup

The preparation and cooking time is 30 minutes.

4 teaspoons vegetable oil

3/4 cup finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons minced garlic

teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed

2 14- to 14-ounce cans ready-to-serve beef broth

2 cups water

8 ounces baby carrots (about 13/4 cups)

8 ounces crimini or button mushrooms, cut into quarters (about 3 cups)

1 cup diced red bell pepper

3/4 cup quick-cooking barley

1 pound beef top-sirloin steak, cut 3/4 inch thick, or shoulder-top blade steaks (see note)

Salt and pepper

1 cup frozen peas

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 4-quart stockpot or saucepan over medium heat until hot.

Add onion, 1 tablespoon garlic and the thyme; cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes or until onion is tender.

Add broth, water, carrots, mushrooms, bell pepper and barley; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until barley and vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, cut beef steak lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick strips. Toss with remaining 1 tablespoon garlic.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot.

Add of beef; stir-fry 3 to 4 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness.

Remove from skillet. Repeat with remaining oil and beef. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Add frozen peas to broth mixture; cook, uncovered, 2 minutes or until tender. Season with salt, as desired. Place equal amount of beef strips into 4 serving bowls. Ladle equal amount of broth mixture over beef. Makes 4 servings.

Note: 1 pound beef shoulder-center steaks cut 3/4-inch-thick can be substituted.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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