Beef And Barley Soup

This recipe is based on one in Betty Rosbottom's Sunday Soups (Chronicle 2008). I've streamlined it a bit by browning the meat under the broiler instead of in a pan, and using shank bones and water instead of boneless chuck and beef stock. I've also adjusted some of the other quantities for a brothier, but well-seasoned soup.

 Beef And Barley Soup i i
T. Susan Chang for NPR
 Beef And Barley Soup
T. Susan Chang for NPR

Makes 4 servings

Broth

2 1/2 to 3 pounds beef shank or shin bones, with meat

1 large onion, halved widthwise

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

Soup

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

3 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

2 ribs celery, halved and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

2 medium parsnips, peeled, halved and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

1 small onion, coarsely chopped

1 small Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 cup pearl barley

2 leafy sprigs fresh thyme

8 ounces sliced white or cremini mushrooms

Chopped parsley (optional)

Preheat the broiler. Toss the beef and onion with 3 tablespoons of oil and arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined sheet pan. Set the pan about 4 inches beneath the broiler. Broil, turning partway through, until richly browned on both sides — 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Set the browned meat and onion in a stockpot or heavy soup pot. Add Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, salt, pepper and water (at least 2 1/2 quarts) to cover. Bring just to the boil and reduce to a simmer. After about 10 minutes, skim off any foam that's collected at the top. Continue simmering over the lowest possible heat for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

While the broth is simmering, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy skillet. When hot, add the carrots, celery, parsnips and onion and saute until just slightly softened, about 5 minutes.

When the meat is falling-apart tender, lift it out with a slotted spoon and allow it to cool slightly on a cutting board. Strain the broth into a clean soup pot — you should have about 1 1/2 quarts —and add the sauteed vegetables. Add the potato, barley and thyme to the pot. Pull apart the reserved meat into small chunks with your fingers, including the gelatinous tendon if you wish, and add to the soup pot. Bring mixture to a simmer and cover until the barley and meat are tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Stir occasionally, adding more water if consistency becomes too thick.

Meanwhile, in the skillet you used for the vegetables, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the mushrooms and saute, turning, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.

When the barley and potatoes are tender, add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

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