The kitchen was really busy last night. Eight of us were buzzing around cooking for an upcoming party. Really great energy. As much as I think I am a person who prefers to be alone, I love the energy of being in the kitchen with a crowd of people. Don’t get me wrong — there is something to cooking alone — being there in the quiet, creating something delicious for someone else to enjoy. It ministers to my spirit, and I sometimes get great ideas and thoughts about other projects. But a group that is working well together, chaotic as it might be, also ministers to the whole group in a way that can’t be duplicated. In the middle of this I was putting together my favorite Beef Mushroom Barley soup for guests and a retreat group the next day. What could be better on a cold rainy day! My brother in law just came through and tasted the soup. He said it needed some red wine, so I added a splash. He was so right!
CHANGE SERVING SIZEservings
- 1 oz. mushroom(s) dried, mixed varieties
- water Boiling (to cover above)
- 2 lbs. beef shoulder, tender or stew beef, cut into small pieces, about 3/4 ” square
- 2 tbsp. canola oil (you may find you need more)
- 1/2 onion(s) large, chopped
- 3 leek(s) washed and sliced (or 6 leeks and skip the onion)
- 2 carrot(s) large, chopped
- 3 stalks celery chopped
- 7 cups beef stock or a bit more depending on how thick or thin you like your soup
- 8 oz. pearl barley
- 1 lb. baby bella mushrooms cleaned, trimmed and quartered
- 1 tsp. thyme dried
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup red wine or more if you like
- salt Kosher, to taste
- black pepper ground, to taste
- Pour boiling water over dried mushrooms to cover, set aside.
- In a large soup pot, saute beef in 1 Tablespoon oil until browned, 5 to 7 minutes, remove from pan.
- In the same pot, with the other Tablespoon of oil, cook your carrots, onions, leeks, celery and baby bella mushrooms until just browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Stir in barley and thyme and cook for another minute.
- Add the beef broth.
- Drain dried mushrooms in a sieve, and add that liquid also to the pot.
- Chop the mushrooms until fine, and add those.
- Toss in the bay leaves.
- Simmer until meat is tender and barley cooked (about an hour for the beef tenders, and longer for the stew meat).
- A little while before serving pour in the wine, and heat again.
- Add kosher salt and ground pepper to taste. This can be made 2 or 3 days in advance — it will taste even better if made ahead.