Barley Legal – Beef Barley Soup

beef barley soup
After three beef pot pies have their glorious moment on the decks, the last thing you can do with a Sunday night beef stew is make soup. If you take it too far beyond that, then you really are going to have to end the week with Gerber. My niece is still on formula, and well, we know how I feel about overly-processed meat products.

Though a slurp-for-slurp comparison of my soup against Campbell’s would have made for an interesting post (no seriously, it would have), it’s been a very long month of beefy beefiness. Let’s just talk barley, since I now have an entire bag of barley in my pantry. Yay.

Barley is my new grain of choice because I am finding that it’s already part of my diet in the form of…beer. Unfortunately, since barleycorns are all mashed, boiled, and fermented with yeast, beer can’t really be considered a whole grain; and since I don’t eat rice, this new barley is helping me in my daily efforts to remain regular. And who could pass up a glittery grain that’s called “pearl?” (Not to mention that it’s scientific name is Hordeum Vulgare).

pearl barley
so much fiber, it’s barley legal

Yes, pearl barley is slightly more processed than regular, straight-off-the-stalk (or whatever it’s grown on) barley. At least it’s barley, and for now, hull-less, bran-less barley stripped of most of its fiber, phosphorus, and potassium is good enough for me. Anything is a step up from plain old polished white rice. “Bahp” if you’re nasty (or Korean).

Speaking of Seoul, Koreans drink bori-cha (“bori”=barley, “cha”=tea), which is made by steeping roasted barley in hot water. Wow. Who knew that besides beer, barley really was already part of my diet! If you ever go to a Korean restaurant and have a ceramic mug of nutty, rich brown tea, it’s more than likely bori-cha. Then again, ohk-soo-soo cha (roasted corn tea) looks exactly the same, so calm your colon down. Check to make sure. I believe some other cultural cuisines also make tea from barley, but that’s for me to know and you to find out.

This tiny 16 ounce bag of barley is a hell of a lot of barley, so I know I’ll be using it in a lot of recipes as a substitute for rice. Pearl barley is simply simmered in a 1:4 ratio of barley to water, with a ½ tsp. salt for every ½ c. of uncooked pearl barley. It’s supposed to cook, covered, for 45 minutes, but mine took a little less time. Then again, I am very impatient, and was probably enjoying a slightly chewier barley than normal. Hopefully, barley will cook in my little Zojirushi, but that is TBD.

If the barley doesn’t cook in the trusty elephant, this very tattered and very worn cookbook on my nightstand has a recipe for cooking barley in the microwave oven. LOL! Yes, on page 246, there is a “recipe” for microwaved barley. The ratios for barley to water are slightly tipped toward the water, but the cooking time is the same. It’s the same! I thought the only advtange of using a microwave oven was speed and accuracy (or is that just for standardized testing?) What is the point of cooking barley in the microwave oven if it requires the exact same effort to cook it on the stove top?!?! In fact, I think it actually requires more time and effort because you are supposed to microwave the barley in the covered casserole dish on high first, sit down, start blogging, then get up and walk back over to the kitchen again five minutes later to reduce the power to 50% and microwave for another 45 minutes. Does a microwave’s timer even go that high? That’s right. I didn’t think so.

But I’m still going to make the barley “risotto” in the cookbook, which if we’re getting all technical with high-tech equipment like a microwave oven, it should be barlotto.

Beef Barley Soup Recipe

This one is so easy it doesn’t even require a real recipe.

Rinse 1 c. of barley until the water runs clear. Bring barley along with 1½ c. water and 1 c. beef stock to a boil, then turn down heat to low and simmer. Cook barley for approximately 40 minutes, until soft and chewy.

Add additional beef stock to the leftover beef stew as well as a few different herbs. Add any additional vegetables (mushrooms are pretty standard) and as much cooked barley as your colon needs, bring to a boil, then let cook for 10-20 minutes to let the additional vegetables cook and the starch from the barley thicken the soup slightly.

I also just realized that adding a 15 oz. can of tomatoes (crushed by hand to make it semi-homemade) with the juice would be good. Dammit! *shakes fist at self* I’ll do that next time.

Serve steaming hot.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anonymous February 27, 2006 at 10:40 am

“and as much cooked barley as your colon needs”

Funny, even in the recipe.

Good job.


2 sarah February 27, 2006 at 11:09 pm

thanks, anonymous!

i am noticing the effects already!


3 Maure February 28, 2006 at 4:26 am

this style soup or stew (sorry, can’t get myself to say “stewp”)
is also excellent with finely cubed lamb. beef stock is fine but chicken stock works well too.
also the addition of garlic during the barley cooking, and as a last
second throw in is sublime.
but then that’s a whole different
recipe i guess.


4 sarah February 28, 2006 at 6:16 am

thank you for not saying “stewp,” maure. i’m already trying my damnedest to get “yum-o” out of my vocabulary forever. ;)

the garlic is a good idea. it’s funny that a lot of home-y american things don’t automatically add garlic. i put it (along with kimchee ha!) in everything.


5 Maure March 1, 2006 at 3:38 am

sarah: speaking of all things kimchee, there’s a pizza joint in
Queens, NY which serves up a kimchee pizza. And I gotta tell you it’s the cat’s meow.
wish i could find it out here.

or i could just get the gumption up to make it – must be easy as pie.


6 sarah March 1, 2006 at 5:27 am

kimchee pizza.

you would think it would be widely available here in l.a. with such a huge korean population, not to mention the koreans’ fascination (much like the japanese’s) with “american” foods like spam and american cheese.

i’ll have to do some research on that. and some experimentation :)


7 barley girl November 16, 2009 at 4:42 am

If you want whole grain barley for your soups or stews, rather than pearled that turned to mush when reheated, then buy hulless or naked barley. Hulless is a variety ready to be eaten right after it’s harvested, with no additional processing. ( The outside chaff falls off during harvesting, leaving the whole grain.) You can usually find it in health food stores. You are right. Barley is the new rice but much more nutritious – twice the beta- glucans as oats so very good at lowering cholesterol and great for diabetics as keeps you feeling full. We grow it here in Montana and make many barley products from pancake mix to bread mixes and soup as well as sell the whole grain.


8 Francis J Kasper January 18, 2011 at 9:43 am

I started to cook more pearled barley when I read on the net that it helps lower blood sugar. My parents orginated from Lithuania and they used a lot of barley in their recipies. I start with 1 cup barley, 3 cups water, pepper maybe some onion and bullian. Either chicken or beef. Start cooking on high till boil, turn down flame to simmer for about 40 min. I usually eat 2-3 spoons daily. Ill find out in about 1 month weather my sugar level drops.


9 Val November 18, 2011 at 9:05 am

Cooking in a microwave might not save time, but it does save on heat.  It is a lot less hot in the kitchen when you use the microwave.  Also you don’t have to remember to turn off the microwave like you have to do with the stove, so you can go and do other things and not worry.


10 LotzNLotzOfSugar July 25, 2013 at 11:30 am

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