Beef, Barley, and Mushroom Soup

"This rich, chunky soup makes even the coldest winter day welcome. Add a crisp, green salad, crusty bread, and a glass of Merlot to complete a memorable meal that will fill - and warm - you up! Adapted from Good Food Magazine, December 1987."
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Ready In:
3hrs 30mins
3 quarts




  • Heat 1 T. oil in large Dutch oven over low heat. Add meat and halved onion and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Pour in the water. Simmer, partially covered, about 2 hours; skim surface as needed. Remove meat to plate. Strain stock through sieve lined with dampened paper towel. (Soup can be prepared up this point 1 day in advance.) Remove bone and gristle from meat; shred meat and add to strained stock.
  • Heat remaining 1 T. oil in Dutch oven over low heat. Add chopped onions, carrots, and celery and stir to coat with oil. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 15 minutes; do not allow to brown. Stir in garlic, increase heat to medium, and cook 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms and cook 5 minutes longer.
  • Add stock with beef, tomatoes, parsley, salt, pepper, allspice and bay leaf. Heat to boiling and stir in barley. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until barley is tender, about 45 minutes. Stir spinach into soup for last 5 minutes of cooking. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot.

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  1. A very tasty soup. I used rehydrated dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid for part of the mushrooms and water, which I think really enhances these types of soups. I think I would add more things to the meat plus water - some peppercorns, a bay leaf, some carrots. Using the onion with the peel on is a great way to add color to a soup, I do this all the time. I used fresh tomatoes rather than canned. I will try adding a little thyme next time. Great for dinner and then lunch the next day.


I didn't start cooking until my early 20's, even though I come from a family of accomplished and admired home cooks. While I grew up watching my Italian grandmother in the kitchen, I remained uninterested in trying anything on my own. As a young lady, I was known for being particularly ignorant in the kitchen, with no idea how to even make a hot dog! All this changed, however, when I got engaged. I realized it was time to let my inherent talents out of the bag. At the time, the New York Times had a weekly column called The 60-Minute Gourmet by Pierre Franey. Each week, I would follow these recipes diligently, and taught myself to cook that way. From there, I began to read cookbooks and consult with relatives on family recipes. At my ripe old age now, I feel I know enough to put together a very pleasing meal and have become accomplished in my own right. Having an Irish father and an Italian mother, I'm glad I inherited the cooking gene (and the drinking one too!). One thing I have learned is that simpler is always better! I always believe cooking fills a need to nurture and show love. After being widowed fairly young and living alone with my dog and cats, I stopped cooking for awhile, since I really had no one to cook for. I made care packages for my grown son occasionally, and like to cook weekly for my boyfriend, so I feel like I am truly back in the saddle!!
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