Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Beef Barley 'Stoup'

There are few things I love more than a big blanket, a comfy couch, the Food Network, and a warm bowl of soup. If it were socially acceptable to do this every day, I would. I'd be really good at it, too.

I'm pretty much an expert couch potato. Not to say I don't stay active, because I do. I'm just saying that my delusional fantasy would be kicking back and relaxing from morning to night.

In any couch-slouching situation, one must have a heart-warming bowl of goodness on hand. I just love soups. Tomato soup, chicken noodle soup, potato leek soup...for me, no food is more comforting.

This week, my soup of choice turned into more of a stew because it is quite rich and hearty. It wasn't as thick as a stew, however. So, as Rachel Ray says, this mixture of a stew and a soup can affectionately be known as a "stoup."

Beef Barley Stoup is a great marriage of beef barley soup and a traditional beef stew. With a little help from the grocery store, the stoup tastes like it's been simmering all day (even though it comes together in about 60 minutes!) Whenever you feel like you need a big bear hug, try pulling together a pot of this stoup--it'll have you warm and comforted in no time!

Here's what you need for Beef Barley Stoup:

3/4 pound stew beef
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup barley
2 cans low sodium beef broth
3 cups water
1 can of a thick tomato sauce (or 1/2 can tomato puree...this only comes in 29 oz. cans and I didn't have anything to do with the rest of it...)
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Here's what you do:

Cut the stew beef into 1/2 inch cubes. I found that kitchen sheers really made this process much easier, but a sharp knife should work just fine.
Toss the beef in the flour and season with salt and pepper.

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and add in the beef. Brown on all sides. Remove from the pot.
Add the carrots, celery, and onion to the drippings on the bottom of the pan. Stir to loosen some of the browned goodness. Add the bayleaf, season with salt and pepper, and cover the pot. Cook the veggies for about 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.

Return the beef to the pot along with the beef broth. Stir to loosen any remaining drippings. Add the water, bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce, stir well to combine. Once again bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the barley and fresh thyme. Simmer an additional 20 to 25 minutes until the barley has doubled in size and is tender to the bite. Adjust your seasonings.

Serves 4 dinner portions or 6 lunch portions! Great with crusty bread, for dipping.

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