Beef & Barley Soup–if you don’t count chowder–is quite possibly the quintessential New England soup.
But nowadays finding a good version can be difficult to find, except maybe in a can. And even the best canned soups are still too salty and tinny for regular consumption.
So, I set about making a healthy and easy Beef & Barley that would rival the ease of warming up a canned version and I think I’ve done it. Of course, I used my trusty Dutch Oven, but I also used my Instant Pot to make ready the beef.
I started with a small piece of meat that was intended as a small roast. I got it on sale for less than $4 and it weighed just under two pounds. Because I froze it when I bought it, I first defrosted it and then cooked it with a small amount of beef broth and some salt and pepper in the Instant Pot on the beef setting. Couldn’t be easier, but note that you could use a portion of roast beef leftovers if you have that.
Once the beef was cooked and had rested, I chopped it up in small pieces and tossed it into the Dutch Oven along with some tomato sauce, a box of beef broth and the drippings from the Instant Pot. I added a can of peas and carrots, but you could use fresh or frozen. It’s up to you, of course.
The Barley was cooked separately from a dried bag of the grain. If you’re wondering where you find dried Barley, check the dried beans section of your grocery store. Once cooked, add the Barley to the soup toward the end of the cooking to keep it from getting too soggy.
Small oyster crackers are the only thing you need to complete this wonderful, homey meal, which is perfect for a cold late Autumn supper.
One small points:
This soup is exceptionally economical. I figured the entire recipe cost me under ten dollars for ten servings!
Small cut of roast beef, prepared either in an oven or Instant Pot, about 1 1/2 pounds
Box of beef broth
Small can of tomato sauce
Can of diced carrots and peas
About two cups of water
Salt and pepper to taste
Barley, 1 cup, dried and cooked separately with 2 1/2 cups water and salt to taste
Cook beef in Instant Pot with a small amount of beef broth and allow to rest OR use precooked cut of roast beef
Slice and then dice the cooked beef and place in Dutch Oven with any pan drippings from the cooking of the beef
Add tomato sauce, beef broth and water to the Dutch Oven and bring contents to boil on the stovetop
Reduce heat to allow the soup to slowly boil off some of the added water and thicken, about 1 hour
Meanwhile in a separate pan, bring the dried Barley to boil with 2 1/2 cups water and salt to taste; cook for 45 minutes
After cooking off some of the liquid, add the can of peas and carrots and the Barley
Allow soup to simmer for an hour or more so that all the flavors meld together
I’m back with my Dutch Oven and a new recipe for what I call “Lazy Lasagna”–but it could also be a pasta bake, if you’d like. I call it Lazy Lasagna, because it has all the ingredients of my regular lasagna without all the time consuming layering.
To make this dish, I started with cooking two boxes (two pounds) of Barilla’s Mezzi Rigatoni, which is a short but wide tube of pasta. I cook the rigatoni for 10 minutes only, because I want to keep my pasta firm. Regular rigatoni or even ziti would work just as well, so feel free to use what you have.
When the pasta has cooked, drain off the water in a colander and return the cooked pasta to the original pot. It’s helpful if you do not overly drain your pasta for this one, because a little of the pasta water will help when mixing your ingredients into the pasta.
To the drained pasta, add a full container of ricotta, a jar of pre-made sauce OR your own homemade sauce, a generous portion of shredded mozzarella cheese and seasoning. I like to add salt, pepper, a touch of crushed pepper, and a blend of dried basil, oregano and rosemary, but obviously adjust to your preference. Mix until blended well.
Add some sauce to the bottom of your Dutch Oven then add your pasta mixture. Two pounds of pasta with all the other mix-ins will fill a 5.5 quart Dutch Oven almost to the top. If you have a smaller pan, adjust accordingly.
Top the pasta mixture with the remaining sauce and then sprinkle the top with shredded mozzarella and then a healthy portion of shredded, dry cheese (I use Stella Three Cheese Italian, which is a mixture of Parmesan, Asiago and Romano cheeses).
Cover and bake in your preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. Then remove the cover and bake for another 10-15 minutes to brown the cheese on top.
Two boxes of Mezzi Rigatoni or similar tube shaped pasta
Two jars of prepared pasta sauce or equivalent of homemade sauce
One 32 ounce container of ricotta cheese
Two cups (or so) shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
Seasonings such as salt, pepper, crushed pepper, basil, oregano and rosemary