I couple of days ago I went outside for my morning coffee wearing shorts and sandals but I had to immediately run back inside my apartment to put on warmer clothes and grab an umbrella. The weather has been pretty warm in NYC lately (the first day of summer is one week away!) but I took the opportunity of the rare chilly weather to cook one of my favorite soups for dinner: Barley Beer Beef Soup. It’s the perfect soup to eat on a drizzly day.
Mary Kate and I first tasted this hearty and warming soup in a tiny restaurant in Lhasa, Tibet. If you ever visit Tibet you will undoubtedly eat lots of barley in some form or another. The elevation is so high there and the land is so harsh that few cops can grow besides barley plants. Tibetan cooks have come up with all kinds of ways to use barley in their cooking: grind it into a flour, mix it with yak butter tea to make an edible paste called Tsampa, stew the berries in broth, and ferment the barley to make beer called chhaang. This soup combines chunks of beef simmered with vegetables, pearl barley (you can buy this at most grocery stores or health food stores), with just a touch of beer. If you have leftovers, add a little water to the soup the next day because the barley grains have a tendency to soak up the broth overnight.
I like to use barley beer if I can find it but tonight I used a bottle of Sam Adams which worked excellently.
Chop up the carrots and onions and set aside.
Treat yourself to a swig of beer!
Remove the mushroom stems and then chop them into quarters.
Chop the meat into 1 1/2-inch cubes and then generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Brown the meat in a big pot until all sides are seared.
When the meat looks like this remove it from the pot.
Add the rest of the oil and saute the carots and onions until they onions are slightly translucent.
Add the water, beer, soy sauce, and beef to the pot. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat and simmer gently, covered, for 1 1/2 hours.
Add the the barley, tomatoes with their juice, butter, and mushrooms to the pot and cook for an additional 30 minutes, or until the barley is tender.
Barley Beer Beef Soup
Servings: 6 | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 2 hours
1 pound beef shin or beef brisket, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
6 cups water
1/2 cup pale lager-style beer
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup pearl barley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups stemmed and quartered button mushrooms
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Brown the beef for about 4 minutes, or until it is seared on all sides, then remove it from the pot.
2. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the pot over medium heat and sauté the carrot and onion for about 10 minutes, or until the onion turns slightly translucent. Add the water, beer, soy sauce, and beef to the pot. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat and simmer gently, covered, for 1 1/2 hours.
3. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the barley, butter, and mushrooms to the pot and cook for an additional 30 minutes, or until the barley is tender.
4. Season with salt to taste and stir in the cilantro just before serving.