You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

breaking news

Flooding blocks lanes on Ga. 400

Beef barley soup lightens up


Most beef barley soups are like stews — so thick with grains and chunks of meat that your spoon practically stands up even when you’re not holding on.

This one, however, falls on the lighter, brothier side of the spectrum.

It still has the barley — velour-soft, nubby and soothing. And it still has plenty of tender chunks of juicy, brawny beef.

But it also has enough fragrant liquid to keep all the elements floating, instead of merging into porridgelike solidity.

This is especially good in this recipe because it allows you to really savor the broth itself, heady with spices. Coriander, cumin and paprika work together to give it a gently earthy, almost sweet scent, while a hit of fresh lemon juice and zest at the end brightens everything.

It may not be the typical flavor profile for this kind of homey soup, but it’s not so wildly different that it will scare beef barley lovers away from the pot. It’s just complex enough without being intimidating.

Even better, it’s fairly adaptable. Heat-seekers can indulge by adding the optional cayenne to the broth and some sliced jalapeños to the bowl as a crisp and fiery garnish. Those who prefer things on the milder side can easily leave out one or both. This soup is forgiving like that.

One thing that beef barley fans may notice is the absence of mushrooms, which I replaced with a host of other vegetables — fennel, turnips, parsnips, leeks, carrots and a large quantity of spinach stirred in at the end. The spinach, in particular, is crucial here, adding a dose of much-needed color and a silky texture. Baby kale works, too, though it may need to be heated for an extra minute or so to soften.

Using more vegetables than usual makes it possible to cut back on the barley without letting the beef dominate. And using a bit less barley also encourages brothiness. This is because barley grains are like little sponges, absorbing liquid as the soup sits. So what may seem like a perfectly liquid soup when you first make it inevitably thickens after a few hours, especially if it’s been in the fridge. But just stir in some water or broth when you heat it up, and it will be good to go.

Beef Barley Soup With Lemon

Total time: 3 1/2 hours

Ingredients

1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed

1 teaspoon black pepper, more as needed

2 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed

3 small or 2 large leeks, thinly sliced

3 celery stalks, diced

1 fennel bulb, diced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

Large pinch cayenne, optional

1 quart beef or chicken stock

3 sage sprigs

2 rosemary sprigs

2 bay leaves

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

2 large turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

3/4 cups pearled barley

8 ounces/8 cups baby spinach or baby kale

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon, plus fresh lemon juice to taste

Thinly sliced jalapeños or other chilies, for serving (optional)

Steps

1. Season beef with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Let mixture stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add meat and cook in batches, turning occasionally, until well browned, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Drizzle in additional oil if the pan seems dry. Transfer the browned meat to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.

3. Add leek, celery, fennel and garlic to the pan; cook until soft, about 7 minutes, adjusting the heat if necessary to prevent burning. Push the vegetables to one side, and, if the pan looks dry, add a bit more oil. Add tomato paste and spices to the cleared spot and cook until tomato paste is darkened and caramelized, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir together vegetables and tomato paste.

4. Return meat to the pot. Pour in stock and 8 cups water. Using kitchen string, tie sage, rosemary and bay leaves into a bundle and drop into pot. Bring the liquid to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, partly covered, for 1 hour.

5. Stir in the carrots, parsnips, turnips, barley, 1 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer until barley is cooked through and meat is tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour more. Pull herb bunch from pot and discard.

6. Stir spinach and parsley into pot until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes (kale may take a few minutes longer), then stir in lemon zest and juice. If soup is too thick, thin it with a little water. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Serve with chilies, if you like.

Yield: 8 servings


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Cooking and Recipes

An old favorite returns to the rotation with a leaner look
An old favorite returns to the rotation with a leaner look

Curried Singapore Noodles was my standard order at a restaurant in Washington's Chinatown - until it wasn't. That kitchen's particular proportions of curried sauce, rice noodles, vegetables, egg and shrimp was the only way I wanted the dish to taste. Once that place closed and a few other Chinese restaurants failed to live up to the standard, I struck...
In Copenhagen, new Nordic meets traditional Italian
In Copenhagen, new Nordic meets traditional Italian

The trendsetting modern style of Scandinavian cooking known as New Nordic has guided the Danish capital’s emergence as one of the world’s great food cities. The manifesto for this cooking was signed by 12 of the region’s most influential chefs in 2004. Among other things, it affirmed the importance of traditional Nordic recipes and...
This robust salad is fit for a full meal
This robust salad is fit for a full meal

A Big Salad is a modern solution to the home cook’s eternal question: How can an entire tasty, nourishing meal be packed into one bowl? Now that so much fresh produce is available year-round, salads can serve as a worthy dinner option, one that satisfies many tastes. Combine fresh, frilly greens, raw and cooked vegetables, beans, grains, nuts...
Cognac on the rocks?
Cognac on the rocks?

If you've ever ordered a cognac at a trendy restaurant, you've no doubt witnessed the bartender making a show of heating a snifter with hot water before filling it. It's a dirty little secret (at least it was) that the renowned cognac house of Hennessy prefers to serve Hennessy X.O on the rocks. I learned of this firsthand a number of years ago when...
Diabetes quick fix: pan fried ropa vieja (flank steak in tomato sauce)
Diabetes quick fix: pan fried ropa vieja (flank steak in tomato sauce)

“Old cloths” is the literal translation of ropa vieja. The Cuban dish is made with leftover meat or flank steak that has been simmered several hours until it falls apart into strings. Any shredded meat boiled or fried can be used for this dish. As long as it is cooked with a traditional sauce of onions, garlic, green peppers and tomatoes...
More Stories