A couple of years ago, we were at an Italian restaurant in Markham, Kara Mia. The soup of the day was Beef Barley Soup. My husband ordered a bowl to share and really enjoyed it. After I tried re-creating the soup at home and today I'm sharing what I came up with. I started with a recipe from Skinnytaste and made some adjustments. The soup we had at Kara Mia had some tomato in it so I added tomato paste. I also added in some thyme and paprika. This is an easy recipe to make and is very filling. I use my pressure cooker to speed up the cooking time. I've also used dried porcini mushrooms that add a lot of flavour. I am not able to always find this at the grocery store, so if you don't have if, feel free to proceed without it.
Adapted from Skinnytaste
2 tbsp canola oil
1 lb boneless beef, cut in cubes (I used lean veal)
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp paprika
2 bay leaves
0.5 ounce dried porcini mushroom
5 cups water
2/3 cup dry barley
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
I use a pressure cooker to make this, however you can also make on the stovetop.
Put the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl and cover with boiling water to re-hydrate. Once re-hydrated, squeeze the water from the mushrooms and chop. Reserve the soaking liquid.
Heat a pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil and then the beef. Sprinkle the beef with salt and cook until it is browned all over.
Add the onion, carrots, garlic, tomato paste, thyme, paprika, bay leaves and the re-hydrated chopped porcini mushrooms. Give a stir.
Add salt to taste and the water. Carefully pour in the porcini mushroom soaking liquid, making sure to not pour in any of the sediment at the bottom of the bowl.
Cook until the beef is tender. If you are using a pressure cooker, put the pressure on and cook until beef is tender. For my pressure cooker this is 18-20 minutes.
Once the beef is tender, add the dried barley and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes until barley is tender and soup is desired thickness. Adjust any seasonings at this time.
Note: as the soup sits, the barley will absorb the liquid and the soup with thicken up. If making in advance, before serving, you may need to some water to bring it back to the right consistency.