Do you remember a while ago when I posted my recipe for Homemade Lamb or Beef Stock? It was way back at the end of last September when nights had just started getting chilly around here. I thought I had used the last of that beautiful stock in a stew last month, but I just found a quart of it tucked away in my freezer. (Yup, stock lasts that long in the freezer. A sure-fire way to tell if it’s still good is to let it thaw and then smell it before using – you will know if it smells “off”; as a general rule, it should last about 6 months in the freezer.)
I decided to get as much use out of the stock as I could by turning it into something even more nutritious. I added a couple basic vegetables – carrot, leek, and garlic – but you could substitute onion for the leek if that’s what you have on hand. (And if you have a couple stalks of celery, you could chop them up and add them as well.) We recently had a lamb roast and I had extra meat on hand, so into the pot it went. (This soup is hearty even without meat though, so this is totally optional.)
Barley was the last ingredient, and I added it not only because it’s delicious and I had it on hand, but also because it’s extremely nourishing. And with this crazy hot/cold weather we’ve been having (temps in the 50’s one day, and in the low teens the next), people are dropping like flies with head colds, throat infections, and stomach bugs, and I’m doing what I can to fight it.
There are a huge number of health benefits related to barley consumption; to name just a few: lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar; preventing cancer; maintaining good bowel function; losing weight; and treating coughs, colds, and throat infections. To read more about barley’s benefits, check out WebMD, The World’s Healthiest Foods, and Diet Health Club.
Soup’s on, and here’s to staving off – or at least hopefully shortening – a winter illness!
- 4 cups (1 liter) homemade beef or lamb stock (see note below)
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 1 leek (white part only), quartered, thinly sliced, and rinsed thoroughly
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup (35 g) pearl barley
- 1 1/2 cups (225 g) cooked beef or lamb, cubed or pulled (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat; add the carrot, leek, garlic, and barley and bring it back up to a boil.
- Cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to simmer, and cook until the vegetables and barley are tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the meat and cook until warm, about 3 minutes.
- Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
A Note on the Stock: I used a very well-seasoned homemade stock that was made with aromatics like carrot, onion, celery, leek, garlic, parsley, thyme, juniper berries, bay leaves, cloves, and cardamom. If your stock isn’t quite as well-seasoned, feel free to add any additional vegetables, herbs, or spices you like to this soup.