Recipe: Beef and barley soup

It’s a cold and rainy Sunday here in Boston today, thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Matthew making its way up north. I’m making cozy at home, candles lit, sipping fresh apple cider, oven-drying the last batch of garden tomatoes, and getting a big pot of my favorite beef and barley soup going on the stove.

This soup is hearty comfort food, which also happens to be really healthy as well. We live on this soup during the cold months, which is the majority of the year in Boston. It’s full of protein and fiber, made with only whole ingredients, and easy to whip up. Most importantly, we both can’t get enough of it. It’s unbelievable how flavorful the broth gets, considering it is made with plain water, without any bouillon or stock. I make a big pot of this on the weekend for quick weekday dinners and R’s work lunches while lazing around or getting laundry going.

Adapted from Skinnytaste

Makes about 6 servings


  • 1.5 lb beef stew meat
  • 1.5 cup onions, chopped finely
  • 1.5 cup carrots, diced
  • 4 garlic, minced
  • 7 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup barley


  1. Over medium heat in a dutch oven (I used 3.5 quart), lightly brown the beef just until no longer pink. Don’t worry about crowding the pan. Do not sear, like you would do for braises or beef stew to enhance flavor, or the beef will be too tough.
  2. Remove meat and saute onions, carrots, and garlic for a couple minutes. No need to soften the vegetables.
  3. Add the beef back in and pour in the water. Add bay leaves, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil.
  4. Bring down to a slow simmer and cover. Cook for 1.5-2 hours until beef is fork-tender.
  5. Add barley and bring back to a simmer. Cook for an additional 30 minutes.
  6. Serve. I like mine with dashes of Aleppo pepper flakes.

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