We had some very cold weather in December and I know some of my dear readers are experiencing some very hot weather — I can’t say which I prefer more, but at least one can put a few more layers on in the cold, not much you can take off after you’ve taken it all off in the heat (or maybe that was a vision we didn’t need!). To help combat the chill over the holidays, I made a big batch of beef barley soup which we had for a lunch and then froze the remainder for quickie servings in the future; it’s always easier to eat healthful if you are armed with healthy food.
Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup
- 1/2 cup sweet onions, finely chopped
- 1 cup or 3 stalks celery, cubed
- 3 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 1 L Low Sodium beef stock
- 5-7 dried “fa goo” Chinese mushrooms, sliced (hydrated but save the liquid and strain it through a fine sieve)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 1″ sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
- 400 g cubed beef (relatively small)
- 1 1/4 cup sherry
- 1-2 tsp canola oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste.
- water, if necessary
- Allow the beef cubes to come to room temperature. Preheat the slow cooker on high.
- Add 1-2 tsp canola oil to a hot cast iron dutch oven and brown the beef on all sides. Add to the slow cooker pot.
- In the same dutch oven, cook the onions until translucent, then add the garlic until fragrant. Stir in the pearl barley and toast for a few moments. Pour into the slow cooker with the beef. Add the beef stock to the slow cooker and give it a good stir.
- Deglaze the dutch oven with the sherry and add it to the slow cooker and add the bay leaf, thyme and finely chopped rosemary. Cook for 4-6 hours on low temperature or 3-4 hours on high.
- For the final hour, add the sliced hydrated mushrooms and the strained mushroom stock and give it a good stir.
- After the final hour, test the barley for doneness and soup for thickness, should you want a slightly less thick soup, add more water.
- Remove the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a dollop of fat free Greek Yogurt and a sprig of rosemary.
- Cool leftovers completely and pour into plastic containers for freezing.
Although December and January were very cold, in late January and early February we were bombarded with snow. A lot of snow, all at once. I know other parts of the world get snow, but this is a lot for us, particularly those of us living in the city with smaller lots which means we have a really hard time finding the space to shovel the snow off the sidewalks and driveways! Enjoy the photos below and just be grateful you didn’t have to shovel it.