A Throw-together Beef Barley Soup (with mushrooms, because I had them in the fridge.)
Chop up an onion (you can use half, I usually use the whole thing. I don’t like having all those forgotten onion halves living in baggies and cluttering up the fridge) brown it in canola oil. Meanwhile chop up 2 portobello mushroom caps and toss them in the pot too. Continue cooking on medium heat. You may need to add more oil. Check it. Stir occasionally.
Cut the beef into 1-2 inch chunks. (You can use whatever type of beef you want. I usually use London broil. I know, it’s wasteful, but I hate beef fat and all that nasty sinew.) Brown the beef.
Once everything is browned. Add 6 cups of water or beef broth. If you are using water (which I do all the time) add 1 beef bouillon cube for every cup of water. I put in 3 bay leaves, NO salt (you are getting it from the bouillon or broth) and about 1 cup of hearty dry red wine (I usually pour myself some at the same time.) While this is cooking, soak anywhere from 1/3 to ½ a bag of barley in 2 cups of water. (I like my soup thick, so I add a lot of barley.) You may want to skim off the ugly brown foam as the meat cooks.
After the soup cooks for about an hour (test the meat for tenderness) add the barley. Cook until the barley is done. This depends on how long you soaked the barley and the condition of the grain. It could be anywhere from ½ hour to an hour. The house should start to have a rich beefy smell. Carefully taste the soup. It is tastes lame; it could be the cut of meat, or the wine. Try adding black pepper and another glug of wine, it will perk up. If you think it needs salt, be careful, you can’t take it out.
I make this all the time. It is perfect for a snowy day.