Beef Barley with Portabella ‘Sufficiency Sophonsified’

There is something about beef with barley based soups that I can’t quite put my finger on that just flat out works for me.

My grandfather, whom I affectionately refer to as: “Gramps” has this saying when he has finished a rather satisfying meal, it is: “My sufficiency is sufficiently sophonsified.”

I don’t know exactly where or when he picked it up but since the age of about 5 till the present, when in Gramp’s company and wanting to impress him and draw out a laugh, I have used it. This soup is the epitome of having a healthy meal that sufficiently sophonsafies.

A nice detour from pasta, barley is as tasty as it is hearty and healthy. A meaty texture with a nice bite and slight snap that is texturally pleasing to the palate.

The beef itself is secondary in a barley soup, it’s more important for the stock to be on point so it may infuse itself into the little pearls of goodness.

Many beef based soup recipes, including my own, use cubed beef usually from a chuck roast. While this yields quick results the layering of flavor just isn’t the same as using bones with marrow. The decadent deliciousness of a sticky stock can’t be had with just beef chuck alone.

It’s well worth asking your local butcher if they happen to have any scrap bones that would be good for stock because you never know what they may have on hand that they will give away or sell at an extremely low price point.

I used to embarrassingly ask the butcher for bones that I could use as treats or to feed the family dog with. I now unashamedly let the butcher know what the bones/meat scraps are for, it’s to help feed my family; the dog then gets the scraps.

Trust me, your butcher will not mind your asking, especially if you make a point of dropping off a quart of your homemade soup as a heart felt “thank you.”

As for the dog, that big fat happy lug of a mixed breed black Labrador named “Rock” doesn’t get a bone until it’s been braised, roasted or boiled, he’s never complained yet.

Beef Barley with Portabella Soup

5 to 6 pounds combination of beef shank, marrow and neck bones
1 large red chopped Onion
2 stalks sliced celery
3 large sliced carrots
16 oz fresh Baby Portabella mushrooms halved
8 cups beef Stock
4 cups water
1 Tsp dried Thyme
1 Tbs course salt
1 Tsp Black Pepper
1 cup Pearled Barley (not instant)
2 large Tomatoes peeled and chopped
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 Tbs Beef Base

Serves 10-12

Heat oil in a heavy bottom stock pot; add beef bones in batches and brown thoroughly, avoid over crowding. Once browned add 4 cups of water and 2 cups beef stock. Cover and simmer on low heat, for 2 hours. Remove beef bones allowing them cool, once cool remove the meat from bones and set aside. Strain remaining stock into another vessel and set aside. Return stockpot to the burner and increase temperature to medium. Place the butter in the pot and add the portabella’s, celery, carrots and chopped onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes taking care not to burn the vegetables. Then add the tomatoes, thyme, salt and pepper, and beef base, sautéing for an additional 5 minutes incorporating all ingredients and making sure nothing sticks or burns on the bottom. Add the reserved stock to the pot along with the remaining 6 cups of beef stock. Bring to a light boil and add the pearled barley, Cover the pot and reduce to a simmer for 30-45 minutes stirring occasionally. When the barley is done (to the bite just like pasta), add the meat, adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve once the meat is warmed through.

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