Left-Brain / Right-Brain Cookery

A double-take in the kitchen

Beef & Barley Soup

Beef and Barley Soup

Beef and Barley Soup

BEEF & BARLEY SOUP by Left-Brain Marilyn

Chilly spring weather calls for steamy and warming soup. Despite being quite thick and hearty, this soup is not heavy fare.
Barley is a nutty grain that is quite flavourful. It comes in two forms, pearl and pot – choose the pot barley which is more nutritious as it has most of the bran still attached. Don’t be surprised by how much the barley swells and thickens the soup.
The soup was delicious, with tender beef after only an hour of simmering. See “Options” below to load it up with even more vegetables! The soup freezes well.

Serves 4

8 oz (250g) tenderized fast-fry beef steak
1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
1 medium carrot, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
4 cups (1L) beef broth
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup (56g) pot or pearl barley, rinsed under cold running water
4 mushrooms, sliced
1 medium tomato, diced (optional)
Chopped fresh parsley or thinly-sliced green onion for garnish


  1. Dry steak with paper towel while saucepan is heating over medium to medium-high heat. Add oil, swirl over pan bottom and add steak. Sauté each side for a minute or two to brown; remove to a plate to cool.
  2. Over medium heat, add carrot, onion and celery (a classic mirepoix) to pan. Stir frequently for 3 to 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in broth and add bay leaf.
  3. Dice steak and add to saucepan including any juices. Stir in barley.
  4. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam, and reduce heat so soup simmers, covered for about an hour. Stir occasionally.
  5. Stir in mushrooms. Add water, if needed, and then salt and a few grindings of black pepper to taste. Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with tomato and parsley. Serve with whole-wheat or potato bread, and a green salad.


  • Dice a sweet pepper and sauté as part of the mirepoix.
  • Add a quarter cup of green peas and/or corn niblets, right from the freezer, along with mushrooms.
  • Italian, lamb or other sausage can replace the beef; simply remove from the casings before crumbling and sautéing until browned. Drain off fat, if necessary.


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