Donna's Daily Dish
Inspiring people to create every day recipes
I hope everyone had a nice holiday and with a new year, I needed something to get me going.
I have a nephew, who when younger (he’s turning 31 next week), his fraternal grandmother made beef barley soup for his birthday celebration. It was the highlight of the party as it was thick and heartwarming. His grandmother hasn’t been well the past few years and I wanted to see if there was a record of her recipe. I reached out to her daughter who was able to locate it. Her recipe contained a handful of ingredients and minimal seasoning, but I was able to duplicate it and add my own touches. His grandmother prepared the soup in a crock pot, which I had, however, the next time I’ll prepare it on the stovetop. For the recipe you’ll need beef chuck meat, 1 package of oxtails, soup bones, flour, canola oil, butter, 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes, pearl barley, kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, soup vegetables.
For the soup, I purchased a two-pound chuck roast that I trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes. I found fresh oxtails at my local Wegmans and didn’t use any additional soup bones. For vegetables, I used fresh chopped carrots and celery, that are cut ahead and kept covered and cold in the refrigerator.
Once I had the meat cubed, I tossed it with seasoned flour (kosher salt and pepper) as well as the oxtails. Using a cast iron frying pan, I melted 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and browned the meat. As it browned, I removed to a separate dish until I was done; adding more butter and oil as necessary.
Next, the meat and oxtails were added to the crock pot and covered with water. I also added one teaspoon of salt and set the temperature to high. Once the water was hot enough and could see the scum coming to the top, I skimmed the surface. The soup cooked in the crock pot for six hours.
When it was done and cooled, the meat and oxtails are removed, beef is shredded and the meat picked off the oxtails. The meat is kept separate from the stock as it needs to chill overnight. As it was going to be quite cold overnight, I secured the pot lid with blue painters’ tape and set it on my porch, otherwise, place in the refrigerator. The following day, the fat is skimmed from the top.
Instead of using my crock pot to finish the soup, I placed the shredded meat and stock in an 8-quart pot. I added chopped carrots and celery, 28-ounces of crushed tomatoes and 3/4-cup pearl barley to the pot. For additional flavor, I used a metal tea ball strainer filled with several sprigs of fresh thyme, a fresh bay leaf and six peppercorns. The soup simmered on the stovetop for an additional one to two hours or until the barley is tender. As it cooked, I tasted the soup and adjusted with additional salt and pepper.
The result after this two-day process was an absolutely wonderful, flavorsome and hearty soup. I achieved what I set out to do, replicate the taste of a soup that someone else is known for. Both my husband and I agree that this made for delicious meal. I’ll have to make it again and deliver a container to my friend and her mother to see if I did her recipe justice.
Crock Pot Beef Barley Soup
Courtesy of MaryAnn Imfeld
1 1/2 to 2 lbs. Beef Chuck cut into cubes (purchase boneless chuck roast, trim and cut into cubes)
1 pkg of Oxtails
soup bones (beef marrow bones are best)*
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon of kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
vegetables – carrots, celery, potatoes*
¾ cup pearl barley
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
Freshly ground black pepper
Six black peppercorns
Several sprigs fresh thyme
1 large bay leaf, or 2 small
If using beef marrow bones, preheat oven to 400°F. Place bones in a roasting pan and cook for approximately 45 minutes or until browned, but not charred. If they begin to burn, lower temperature to 350°. When done, remove from pan, place pan on burners, add approximately 1 cup of hot water and scrap fond from bottom of pan. Save to add to crock pot.
Season flour with a pinch or two of kosher salt and several grinds of freshly ground pepper. Toss beef cubes and oxtail to coat; shake to remove excess flour.
In a large frying pan, over medium high heat, add butter and oil. When butter begins to foam, add beef in batches to brown, don’t overcrowd. Remove to separate dish and continue until done. Add more oil and butter as needed.
Add beef cubes, oxtails, marrow bones and liquid from roasting pan to crock pot. Make a sachet with cheesecloth (or metal tea strainer) of peppercorns, bay leaf and fresh thyme to add to pot. Cover with water; add 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook in crock pot on low setting for six hours. As the stock cooks, skim scum from surface.
In the meantime, chop your vegetables and set aside in refrigerator. Keep covered to retain moisture.
After six hours, remove meat and bones. Shredded beef and pick meat from oxtails. Keep meat separate stock, chill overnight. The next day, remove fat from surface then add meat, vegetables, crushed tomatoes and barley. Cook for 1 to 2 hours or until barley is tender. As it cooks, taste and adjust salt and pepper,
*The first time I made this recipe, I didn’t not use beef marrow bones. For vegetables just chopped celery and carrots.
A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners.