Beef Barley Soup

Beef Barley Soup

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 90 minutes
Servings: 6 Serves 6.
A garnish of sour cream and chopped dill gives this hearty soup a Russian flavor. Serve with dark rye bread for a complete meal.


  • 3 lb. meaty beef or veal shanks
  • 3 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 6 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 cup barley
  • 6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. fresh cremini mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 6 Tbs. sour cream (optional)


Place the shanks in a saucepan and add water to cover generously. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming often to remove any foam that forms on the surface. Add about two-thirds of the chopped onions, the carrots and celery, reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, for about 1 hour. Add the tomato puree and barley, cover partially and continue to cook over low heat until the barley is tender, about 1 hour more.

While the soup is cooking, in a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the remaining chopped onions and sauté, stirring occasionally, until pale gold, 10 to 12 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring often, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, reduce the heat to medium and sauté until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes more. Season with salt, pepper and 2 Tbs. of the dill.

Remove the shanks from the pan and, when cool enough to handle, cut the meat from the bone. Chop and reserve the meat; you should have about 1 1/3 cups.

Add the mushroom mixture and the reserved meat to the pan and stir to heat through. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle into warmed bowls and sprinkle with the remaining 2 Tbs. dill and the parsley. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream, if using.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Soup for Supper, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1998).
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Satisfying and Richly Flavored We made this using frozen cooked farro and it was awesome. I added extra broth (about 4-6 cup of beef broth and 2 cups of water) since the other reviewers said it was so thick. The flavors are rich and meaty and so delicious. Definitely add fresh dill anbd yogurt at the end. It makes it!! I will absolutely make this again.
Date published: 2013-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect dish for cold days This is not first time I cook the soup. Instead meat with bone, I use meat for stew. Taste rich. It is a good idea for cold weather.
Date published: 2013-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Cooks long, worth the wait Perhaps it's just me but I find myself always reducing the amount of meat in WS recipes. Instead of 3lbs bone-in, I used 1lb of high quality stew meat. Since my meat was boneless, I added the barley to the first boil which reduced the cooking time by an hour. Also, I found myself constantly adding more water throughout the cooking. When it was ready, I served it with a dollop of mild goat cheese instead of the sour cream. It was definitely a crowd pleaser! I think it could easily serve 8 as well. Will share with friends and make it again.
Date published: 2013-02-15
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