Don't you love those winter weekends where you've had the foresight to shop for all the ingredients you need to make a wonderful, hearty, comforting soup and then actually had the time to throw it all together on Saturday or Sunday so that you're prepared for the craziness of weeknight meals?!! For those of you calm and collected, "soup's-all-ready-souls", go relax and take a bat, basking in the knowledge that dinner's all ready--for the rest of you (and by you, I mean me) don't despair, because your night doesn't have to be soup-less after all. See, with this Weeknight Beef and Barley Soup, you can actually get home after a fairly busy day and still manage to make a delicious and hearty pot of soup in under an hour! Take that you Sunday soup makers (don't take offense--that's just my jealousy of your amazing advanced planning talking!!).
Actually, this soup is so delicious, that I wouldn't simply reserve it for weeknights--no one will hold it against you if put up a pot of this on a Saturday or Sunday--I mean, why slave over a pot of soup for longer than you have to when this simple version is so satisfying and delicious?!!
The secret here is that while the broth and veggies and quick-cooking barley simmer, you brown and cook the cubed steak tips, so that when the base of the soup is all done, everything gets thrown together and...Voilá, you've got yourself a wonderful one-pot homemade soupy dinner!
Every spoonful is full of tender steak, chewy barley, sweet carrots and a broth that's so rich and flavorful, you won't believe it came together in a snap. Definitely a keeper and one to add to the regular repertoire. Now, cross your fingers and hope there are leftovers--how great would this be for a quickie lunch tomorrow?!!
Weeknight Beef and Barley Soup
Makes 4-6 servings
Prep Time: Under 1 hour
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/4 ounce dried porcini or shitake mushrooms, rinsed and minced (keep a package of these in the pantry--they last forever and add so much concentrated flavor to soups and stews)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 3 cups beef broth or stock
- 3 cups chicken broth or stock
- 2/3 cup quick-cooking barley
- 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak tips, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Place 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and onion and cook for about 7-8 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the veggies are starting to get brown. Add in the mushrooms, garlic and tomato sauce and cook, stirring for about 30 seconds. Stir in the beef and chicken broths, barley and the soy sauce, scraping up any browned bits and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the barley is tender.
2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Pat the beef dry with a paper towel and season with the salt and pepper. Add half the meat to the skillet and brown on all sides, cooking the meat all the way through. Transfer cooked meat to a plate and repeat the process with the remaining meat.
3. When all the beef is cooked, add it into the soup, along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate and cook for a few more minutes (or longer) until the meat is hot. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
4. Soup can be made up to 3 days ahead and kept refrigerated in an airtight container. Reheat in a saucepan over a low light.
Note: Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated All Time Best Soups. I left out the teaspoon of fresh thyme and cut the oil down as well.