There are few things better than a hearty beef and barley soup in the winter. There are hundreds of variations this soup recipe, but I found a recent recipe for Beef and Barley Soup with Lemon from Melissa Clark of the New York Times to be quite appealing.
Indeed, the lemon zest adds a big flavor boost to the traditional beef and barley soup recipes that one generally finds in cookbooks. While Melissa adds many seasonal root vegetables to this recipe, I suggest that you simply use what it is available. There is no reason to fret if you need to make substitutions since it is unlikely to alter the flavor of the soup.
Personally, I think the lemon zest kicks the taste of this soup into high gear and I love the color of the spinach and kale leaves. Winter is simply too dreary without a bit of color.
Beef Barley Soup with Lemon
- 1 pound beef stew meat cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt more as needed
- 1 teaspoon black pepper more as needed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil more as needed
- 3 small leeks (or 2 large) thinly sliced
- 3 celery stalks diced
- 1 fennel bulb diced
- 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- Large pinch cayenne optional
- 1 quart beef or chicken stock
- 3 sage sprigs
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 carrots peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 2 parsnips peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 2 large turnips peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3/4 cups pearled barley
- 8 ounces baby spinach or baby kale roughly 8 cups
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon plus fresh lemon juice to taste
For Serving (optional)
- Thinly sliced jalapeños or other chiles for serving (optional)
- Season beef with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Let mixture stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add meat and cook in batches, turning occasionally, until well browned, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Drizzle in additional oil if the pan seems dry. Transfer the browned meat to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.
- Add leek, celery, fennel and garlic to the pan; cook until soft, about 7 minutes, adjusting the heat if necessary to prevent burning. Push the vegetables to one side, and, if the pan looks dry, add a bit more oil. Add tomato paste and spices to the cleared spot and cook until tomato paste is darkened and caramelized, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir together vegetables and tomato paste.
- Return meat to the pot. Pour in stock and 8 cups water. Using kitchen string, tie sage, rosemary and bay leaves into a bundle and drop into pot. Bring the liquid to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, partly covered, for 1 hour.
- Stir in the carrots, parsnips, turnips, barley, 1 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer until barley is cooked through and meat is tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour more. Pull herb bunch from pot and discard.
- Stir spinach and parsley into pot until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes (kale may take a few minutes longer), then stir in lemon zest and juice. If soup is too thick, thin it with a little water. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Serve with chiles, if you like.
Found below are some other useful soup recipes that you may wish to consider this winter: