Monday, May 14, 2012

Barley, Beef and Mushroom Soup - My last dinner on the old stove

I cooked my last dinner on our old stove this weekend. We took the stove out on friday. I did not cook a gourmet feast, since we were pretty busy with the remodel but I made an old family favorite…Barley soup with beef and mushroom. It was finally a bit cooler this week and soup sounded good to us. This is a great soup with beef or as barley mushroom soup without the beef. But we needed the protein so I added stew meat. 

An update on the kitchen. ~While we have had more than a few snags and complications, the kitchen has been mostly dismantled and three of the new
cabinets are installed.

We had lots of help this week, including our friends Julian, Ally, Steven and Chris.
 My husband got the recessed lights in, along with some rewiring and junction boxes added.  The soffit was redone. We had someone come in to help with dry wall finishing but I sort of wish we had done it ourselves as it needs to be fixed up quite a bit. Tomorrow we get the island installed. It is coming along!

This week was also time to celebrate many graduations. I was not able to get to all of the parties, just too much going on, but we did celebrate with quite a few friends. Congrats to all the graduates out there!

Three generations times two. My mom and daughter and I with my friend, her mom and daughter.
And of course, we took some time off for Mother’s Day. My daughter cooked the whole family a wonderful meal at her apartment.

She and my son bought my mom and I a bird bath, which was something I've been wanting. Now I can retire the pie tin with a rock in the middle of it. :-)

All in all, it has been a pretty good week, if I ignore the ½ inch of dust re-accumulating all over the house and the boxes everywhere. Everything is in disarray and we never know quite where we will plug in the coffee pot each morning. I am very thankful we have a big laundry room off the kitchen complete with cabinets, counters and a sink.

This is a good process to go through. It reminds me that challenges can be overcome, we can make do without things we think are so important and that my husband is a genius when it comes to making things work

This week we will take out the other cabinets with the oven and microwave so making dinner will involve more creativity. I will have a grill, an elecritric skillet and a crockpot. We have several invites from friends  and there is always going out to eat! We have a huge number of restaurants here. A while back, I heard that we had more restaurants per capita than all but one other place but I don't know if that is true or not. Still there are many restaurants here and a few I would love to try! 
Here is my Barley soup recipe. I know the photo of it does not look so great but I hope you will try it out if you like old fashioned hearty soups!

  Barley, Beef and Mushroom Soup

Cooking time about  1 ½ -2 hours

1 ½ to 2 lbs. beef for stew, lean, cut in small pieces

 2    Tbsp.  Canola or Olive Oil, more as needed

 1    large Onion, Diced

  2    Medium Potatoes, white, red or russet, peeled and diced

8-10 oz  Fresh White Mushrooms – Cleaned,

  2     Garlic Cloves, Pressed

1            Tsp marjoram and/or thyme or herb blend

1-2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt, to taste

1 tsp pepper, to taste

Dash or two of hot sauce, optional

  1 ¼ Cup  Barley (I like Pearl Barley, but regular is fine if cooked longer)

1 cup white wine, optional- may sub another cup broth or water

 5-6 cups  Beef Broth* prefer low sodium or home made

 1  cup  Water, or more or less as needed 

1    Bay Leaf

 1/2  Cup  Milk, if desired or just add extra water if needed

*You may use less broth and more water or use vegetable broth
Make sure the beef is dry and cut into very small, uniform pieces . Heat large 5 quart or so pan and add canola oil. Once the oil is heated, add beef and let it cook until first side is nicely browned, only a few minutes. Turn to another side until most of the beef is browned. While beef is browning, dice the onion. Chop potato into small pieces.  Mince mushrooms into very small pieces OR you could just slice them if you prefer.

Once the beef is just browned, remove it to a bowl and cover. In the same pan, add a bit more oil and onions. Slowly cook onions until turning a bit golden, about 8 minutes. Then add potatoes, garlic, mushrooms and seasoning. and mix everything well. Cook for another 5 minutes, then add beef back in with wine, and about 5 cups broth and 1 cup water. You may add more liquid now or add it in later, as needed but, do not add milk now.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low simmer. Keep stove on low and cover pot. stirring occasionally  and checking on liquid level. If it begins to look too thick, add more broth or water. I almost always add another cup while it cooks.
Let this simmer for about 1 hour but it may take 1 ½ if the pieces of meat and potato are larger. It is done when meat is tender and potatoes and barley are soft. Remove bay leaf and add milk, if you want to use it. I often skip the milk.  Heat on low for 4 minutes.  Do not boil after milk is added.

Serving Size : 8-10. Makes great left overs! May be frozen.


  1. Denise I am amazed you are still cooking in the kitchen during the remodel. It would be sandwiches and take out for me. I love barley soups. This looks fantastic. I'm so happy you had a great Mother's Day... the bird bath is so cool! :)

  2. Thanks, Ramona, for stopping by and leaving a comment!! We are having our fair share of sandwiches and eating out. But I am not fond of sandwiches and eating out can get expensive Last night's dinner was smoothies on the patio! I did most of the prep work for the soup in the other rooms and only used the stove.
    The bird bath looks lovely installed in our yard. Just waiting for birds to get used to it. I have so many birds, and squirrels and rabbits in our yard. I think the birds will love it once they are notice it.

  3. Looks like it is coming on well and how you will enjoy it when it is finished and you have forgotten all about the dust.

  4. Hi Denise! Looks like it's moving forward! It's a long process and it must be hard to live without kitchen-less. When we change the countertops, I remember I was washing strawberries (it was my kids' favorite fruits so we had to have them) in the bathroom sink. Oh so much trouble washing bibs and baby bottles and everything in bathroom sink... Hope you are hanging in there. What a lovely pictures of two 3-generation families!

  5. oh wow this soup looks so hearty and comforting, i want a bowl of it right now! a remodelled kitchen soon on its way, how exciting! hope it all goes well.

  6. You are so gorgeous, Denise and such a good cook. Your menus look scrumptious!

  7. Great to see progress on your new kitchen... so jealous! Hearty soup too.