Beef & Vegetable Barley Soup; more Barcelona

This is a proper, old-fashioned soup, the kind that should be made over two days.

On the first day you make the stock, cooking it slowly for 3 or 4 or 5 hours. Then strain it and chill it to remove all the fat.

Of course it’s easiest to do this if you happen to be in the middle of a cold snap, like we are at the moment. We’ve barely gotten above freezing for days and the nights have been as low as -6C (23F).

I know…. It doesn’t qualify as cold by Minnesota standards but we don’t live in Minnesota for a reason.

Back to the soup….  I just put the stock out in the barn overnight. Luckily, it didn’t freeze.

The next day you make the soup – early, so it has plenty of time to meld all the flavors. Let it cool, then reheat what you need for dinner.

I even managed to find pearl barley, rather than the more common fast-cooking barley that we get here (it cooks in 15 minutes rather than 45 minutes).

The soup freezes well – or you can just eat it every day for lunch until it’s gone – like we did.

The first night we had it for dinner with Popovers. For those of you who have never made popovers: please do not believe all the crap currently around on the internet that implies they are difficult to make.
My recipe is from an old Betty Crocker cook book: Whisk by hand and leave the lumps. No resting, no fussing, no worrying, and they are perfect every time.

Some people just like to make things difficult!

BTW – I use beef base rather than salt – use whatever you like.

Beef & Vegetable Barley Soup

Total time: 5 hours plus chilling time


  • Stock:
  • 32oz (1000gr) beef short ribs
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 2 ribs celery or a bunch of celery tops, cut into large pieces
  • 1 carrot, cut into pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • water to cover
  • salt to taste or 2 – 3 tsp beef base
  • Soup:
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 3 cups regular or Savoy cabbage, chopped
  • 2 1/2 – 3 quarts beef stock, or more… depends on how you like your soup
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 4 tbs tapioca optional – thickens the broth slightly
  • the beef from the ribs, cut into small pieces, fat discarded

Beef Vegetable Barley Soup


  • Stock:
  • Heat oil in a 5 qt Dutch oven.
  • Add beef and brown well.
  • Add remaining ingredients for stock and enough water to cover it all.
  • Cover and simmer for 3 – 4 hours.
  • Remove and strain, discarding vegetables.
  • Refrigerate meat and stock separately overnight.
  • Soup:
  • Remove fat from stock and discard.
  • Heat stock to a simmer.
  • Add the onions, celery, carrots, and cabbage as you chop, keeping soup at a steady simmer.
  • Add barley, tapioca if using, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, until vegetables are tender and barley is done.
  • Add beef, heat through and serve.

Print Recipe

More from Barcelona:

I love discovering new things in a favorite old city…. Like this Roman wall.

The  Romans left bits of themselves all over Spain, the aqueduct in Segovia, ruins in Emporda, to name two, but I had never seen the remains of the original Roman wall around the city of Barcina.

The bicycles are new.

It’s actually rather extensive and I have no idea how I missed it. Apparently I’ve never been lost in that particular area before.

One of the benefits of being lost is poking one’s head into open doorways.

Sometimes one discovers a lovely courtyard:

With a bench facing the fountain for a wee rest.

But my favorite part of this cute little building was the letter box.

I covet this mailbox.

Apparently it will handle both airmail and snail turtle mail.

Last update on November 2, 2018

6 thoughts on “Beef & Vegetable Barley Soup; more Barcelona”

  1. Some people do like to make things difficult … some just like to be dramatic… some just like you to think they really worked hard for you.
    There are days when we travel, I say to Gorn “Let’s just aim to get lost today” it’s made for discovery.

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