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So far, one quarter of the recipes on this blog are soup recipes. Does that seem like a lot? I try to restrain myself from sharing more soup recipes, and in the winter it’s a real challenge to limit the meal plan to one soup per week. This should come as no surprise considering I once wanted to open a shop inspired by one of my favorite places in Wiesbaden, La Soupe, a restaurant  that served nothing but–you guessed it–soup. I have had vast experience as the official “soup maker” at the coffee shop where I used to work, a job I loved immensely. The slicing, sautéing, and stirring became a welcome respite from the busy barrage of caffeinated customers. Soup is the perfect thing to make when you need to catch up with your own thoughts.

Beef, Leek, and Barley Soup

Maybe it’s that respite I still seek when I make soup at home (apparently, Smiley Face Bananas are to toddlers what legal addictive stimulants are to working adults). I’m drawn to its ease and versatility. One dish dinners are my favorite, and soup has to be one of the best ways to get plenty of vegetables, protein, and even whole grains into a meal that passes muster with the family. There is an endless variety of flavors and textures to explore. And I think we’re all familiar with soup’s benevolence towards vagrant leftovers and substitutions alike.

But I can’t help being reminded of a conference I once attended where the speaker advised wives to ask their husbands, “How can I love you better?” One husband’s answer, reportedly: “I don’t like soup. You make soup too often.” To which she replied, “You mean I could maintain the peace in our home and nurture marital bliss by simply serving you solid food?!?” I guess maybe one can have too much soup. Before you make this, maybe you should ask your spouse how they would feel about eating Beef, Leek, and Barley Soup.

 I really hope the answer is, “Great!”

Beef, Leek, and Barley Soup

Beef, Leek, and Barley Soup
Adapted from Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin
Serves 6-8

  • 2 beef short ribs (about 2 pounds), trimmed if very fatty
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 leeks, cut lengthwise, rinsed, and sliced (both white and green parts)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup barley
  • 8 cups (2 quarts) beef stock
  • Black pepper
  1. Place short ribs on the bottom of your soup pot. (You can pat them dry and sear them first over medium-high heat for a little more flavor. be sure to scrape up the browned bits when you add the stock.)
  2. Add onions, leeks, garlic, barley, and beef stock. Grind in a little black pepper.
  3. Bring to a boil, then let it simmer, partially covered, on low for 2 ½ to 3 hours, until meat is tender and practically falls apart when prodded with a fork.
  4. Carefully remove short ribs from the soup to a cutting board to cool a bit. I like to break them apart into large chunks to speed this up a little.
  5. Meanwhile, skim the fat from the top of the soup if necessary. If you have the time, a stint in the fridge overnight makes this much easier.
  6. When the short ribs are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, break/chop it into chunks, and stir it back into the soup.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste, make sure meat is warmed through, and serve.
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