Monday, March 13, 2017

Beef Barley "Semi-Strone"

While I didn't grow up a soup-loving kid, I'll admit there were times when a steaming-hot bowl of broth filled with bits and bites of delicious stuff really hit the spot. These days, I'm hard pressed not to have soup for dinner a few nights a week, especially when I come home from a particularly long or cold day at work. Like my mom, I don't crave soup when I'm feeling sick, though - the bowls I desire are always too thick, too spicy or too "busy" for the bland diet prescribed for stomach flu. Instead, give me French Canadian pea soup with liberal dashings of pepper, or a minestrone packed full of beans.

Beef Barley "Semi-Strone"

With our freezer stores running low on meals and high on leftovers, it was clearly time to whip up another batch of soup (my favourite go-to for cleaning the fridge and freezer!). I started with a container of ground beef left over from the Summer's burger-making, roasted garlic paste and a bag of beef stock cubes from gosh-knows-when, adding frozen tomato paste pucks for a little body. From the pantry came the spices, canned tomatoes, chickpeas and a bowlful of barley which I soaked overnight to hasten the cooking time. After a nice long simmer, leftover greens from last week were stirred in to add a bit of pop. The mix was delicious right away, but by lunchtime the next day? Perfection.

I call this a "semi-strone" because while it has a lot of the Italian flavours going for it (and like the original version was made with leftovers), it also uses barley, which is untraditional, and leaves out any notion of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Whatever you call it, it is sure delicious and a great stick-to-your-ribs meal any day of the week!

Beef Barley "Semi-Strone"
Makes 10 hearty portions
1 lb medium lean ground beef (80/20)
1 large onion, finely diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp smoked salt
½ tsp pepper
8 roasted garlic cloves, mashed
2 tbsp tomato paste (I love the tubes)
4 cups low-sodium beef broth
2 cups water
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
¾ cup pot barley, soaked overnight and drained
2 bay leaves
6 oz frozen chopped spinach or fresh spinach - you can also use kale or your favourite greens
1 (19 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  1. Heat a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat and add the beef.
  2. Cook, stirring, until browned and the fat has rendered.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, carrots and spices. Cook, stirring, until onion is beginning to turn golden - about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the roasted garlic and tomato paste until fragrant.
  5. Add the broth, water, tomatoes, barley and bay leaves and bring to a boil.
  6. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 90 minutes. The soup will be very thick.
  7. Stir in spinach and chickpeas and warm through. Remove bay leaves and serve

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 256.2
Total Fat: 9.7 g
Cholesterol: 28.0 mg
Sodium: 635.7 mg
Total Carbs: 29.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.7 g
Protein: 15.4 g