Ina Garten’s Beef Barley Soup Recipe: A Comforting Classic

When it comes to hearty, comforting meals, Ina Garten’s Beef Barley Soup Recipe is a true winner. This recipe, cherished by fans of the Barefoot Contessa, brings together tender beef, wholesome barley, and a medley of vegetables to create a rich, flavorful soup that’s perfect for any season. Let’s dive into the step-by-step process of making this delicious dish in your own kitchen.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Before we get started, let’s gather all the necessary ingredients. Having everything ready will make the cooking process smooth and enjoyable.

For the Soup

  • 1 pound of beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup of pearl barley
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8 cups of beef broth
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Preparing the Ingredients

Prepping the Vegetables

  1. Dice the Onion: Finely dice the onion to ensure it blends well with the other ingredients.
  2. Chop the Carrots and Celery: Peel the carrots and chop them along with the celery into bite-sized pieces. This ensures they cook evenly and are easy to eat.

Handling the Beef

  1. Cube the Beef Stew Meat: Cut the beef stew meat into 1-inch cubes if it isn’t pre-cut. This size is perfect for simmering and becoming tender without falling apart.

Cooking the Soup

Browning the Beef

  1. Heat the Olive Oil: In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Brown the Beef: Add the beef cubes to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and brown them on all sides. This step is crucial for developing a deep, rich flavor. Once browned, remove the beef and set it aside.

Sautéing the Vegetables

  1. Cook the Onions: In the same pot, add the diced onions and sauté until they become translucent.
  2. Add the Carrots, Celery, and Garlic: Stir in the chopped carrots, celery, and minced garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.

Building the Soup

  1. Deglaze with Red Wine: Pour in the red wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. These bits are packed with flavor and will enrich your soup.
  2. Add the Beef and Broth: Return the browned beef to the pot and add the beef broth. Stir to combine.
  3. Incorporate the Barley and Spices: Add the pearl barley, bay leaves, and dried thyme. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Simmering to Perfection

  1. Bring to a Boil: Increase the heat to bring the soup to a gentle boil.
  2. Simmer: Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 1 to 1.5 hours. This slow cooking process allows the flavors to meld together beautifully and the beef to become tender.

Serving the Beef Barley Soup

Finishing Touches

  1. Check the Seasoning: Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper if necessary.
  2. Garnish: Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with freshly chopped parsley for a burst of color and freshness.

Enjoying Your Creation

Serve this hearty Beef Barley Soup with a side of crusty bread or a simple green salad. The combination of tender beef, chewy barley, and flavorful broth is sure to warm you up and satisfy your hunger.

Tips for the Best Beef Barley Soup

Choosing the Right Beef

Opt for beef stew meat or chuck roast, as these cuts are ideal for slow cooking. They become tender and flavorful as they simmer.

Slow and Steady

Don’t rush the simmering process. The slow cooking time is essential for developing the soup’s deep, rich flavors and tenderizing the beef.

Storing Leftovers

This soup stores well and even tastes better the next day. Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Variations of Beef Barley Soup

Adding More Vegetables

Feel free to add other vegetables like mushrooms, potatoes, or green beans. These additions can enhance the nutritional value and flavor of your soup.

Making It Gluten-Free

If you’re looking for a gluten-free option, you can substitute the pearl barley with quinoa or rice. Both will offer a different texture but still be delicious.

Spicing It Up

For a bit of heat, add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce. This will give your soup a spicy kick that’s perfect for cold days.

Conclusion: Ina Garten’s Beef Barley Soup Recipe

Ina Garten’s Beef Barley Soup is a comforting classic that’s perfect for cozy nights in or when you need a nourishing meal. With its rich broth, tender beef, and wholesome barley, it’s a dish that’s sure to become a favorite in your household. Now that you know how to make it, you can enjoy this hearty soup anytime you crave something warm and delicious.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make Beef Barley Soup in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can adapt this recipe for a slow cooker. Brown the beef and sauté the vegetables on the stovetop first, then transfer everything to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

Can I use a different type of meat?

Absolutely! You can use lamb or even chicken if you prefer. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly, as chicken will cook faster than beef.

What can I use instead of red wine?

If you don’t want to use red wine, you can substitute it with additional beef broth or a splash of balsamic vinegar for a bit of acidity.

How do I thicken the soup?

If you prefer a thicker soup, you can mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with cold water and stir it into the simmering soup. Let it cook for a few more minutes until it thickens.

Is this soup freezer-friendly?

Yes, Beef Barley Soup freezes well. Let it cool completely before transferring it to freezer-safe containers. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.