Winter has definitely arrived. When I look out my window I see a blanket of white gracing the landscape.
When I look over at my sofa, with my lovely new throw blanket (the one my sister gave me for Christmas), I see a scruffy Cairn Terrier with a summer haircut snuggling in that new blanket. It seems even Tank loves a soft, snuggly throw blanket.
Winter is a time of renewal. A time to reflect, a time to rejuvenate, a time to recover. A very wise lady once told me, everyone needs a season of winter. I agree.
Although my schedule is busy with my lovely clients, teaching culinary classes and my super delicious family, The Bennett Crew, I still manage to squeak out a little time just for me.
Sometimes it’s 10 minutes to read a few chapters of my new mystery novel (it would be 30 minutes if I didn’t fall asleep), and sometimes it’s 15 minutes in a hot bubble bath with a little glass of wine. And sometimes it’s just a few minutes sitting on Suzie Q’s bed listening to all the tales in the life of a 13-year-old girl, which can be quite entertaining. 🙂
I really wish I had an hour to read (I’m certain I’d still fall asleep) or an hour to soak in a hot tub, or two hours to listen to my little gals tales. But I cherish the few moments I do have. They eventually add up to many hours spent just for me.
I wish you all many peaceful moments in your season of winter.
Loads of Love,
Beef and Barley Soup
Cook Time: Slow cooked for about 2 hours in a Dutch oven or soup pot or can be slow cooked in a slow cooker for about 5-6 hours
1 lb beef stew meat, cubed
1 tablespoon safflower, sunflower or grapessed oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5-6 cups organic beef broth, start with 5 cups and add more at the end if needed. (Imagine or Pacific brands are delicious as is Wolfgang Puck’s broths)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup pearled barley (found in the rice aisle of your local market or found in bulk at Whole Foods and PCC Natural Markets)
1 cup frozen organic peas
1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar (I’ve also used rice wine vinegar when I forgot to purchase red and white vinegar)
Fresh chopped Italian parsley for garnish (optional)
In a Dutch oven or Soup Pot heat the oil over medium high heat. Season the beef cubes with salt and pepper.
Brown the beef and then transfer to a bowl. Then add the diced onion, carrots and celery. Let the veggies cook for about 5-8 minutes, or until they are wilted. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Then stir in the beef broth, bay leaf and tomato paste. Add the beef back into the pot. Bring the soup to a boil and then cover the pot with a lid and let the soup simmer on low for about an hour.
After one hour, stir in the pearled barley, cover the pot again and let it simmer for another 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, check to see if the barley has puffed up and softened. And then check to see if your stew meat is tender. If it’s not tender let it simmer for another 30 minutes. If all is tender, add the frozen peas and season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.
Then stir in the tablespoon of vinegar to pull all those delicious flavors together. Garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley if desired.
This is a fabulous soup to serve immediately, or hold over for a day or two. It’s also a good freezer soup. When reheating you might need to add an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup water, as the pearled barley will absorb a lot of the liquid.
You can also prepare this soup in a slow cooker. Brown the beef and saute the veggies as instructed above. Then transfer to the slow cooker. Pour the broth over the beef and veggies, stir in the tomato paste and add the bay leaf. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 5-6 hours.
Stir in the pearled barley at least one hour before the soup is done. Twice I’ve forgotten to add the pearled barley and ended up cooking it stove top according to package directions. Then I added the cooked barley to the soup. This is always an option if you’re forgetful like me. 🙂
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the tablespoon of vinegar and frozen peas and let the soup sit for 5 minutes before serving.