This was in the Boston Globe,when I first came across it; and I have prepared it so many times now. It is thick, delicious and so filling; just a fresh baked bread with it is enough for me for supper or for lunch on a bitter cold day. Sometimes I use more fresh thyme or garlic, it all goes together and is nice reheated. I hope you'll enjoy it too.
Using stew meat is easy, but if you prefer to use meat with the bone-in,first remove meat from the bone and discard the bone.
Because I don't care for a salty soup, I use low-sodium canned beef and chicken broth to start, and add the salt and pepper to taste. Water is also added to make 8 cups of broth. The cans are each 14 ounces, I prefer College Inn brand, but any kind will do.
Chop meat to 3/4" pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put 1 TBS. oil in heavy dutch oven or fry pan,cook until browned, it may take two batches, don't crowd the pan. Remove meat and add to a soup pot.
Heat the second TBS.oil and saute onions,carrots and celery,stir and saute, then cook covered until tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the sliced mushrooms,garlic and thyme or fresh minced parsley if preferred, and cook 3 minutes more, covered. Meanwhile combine broths and water to equal 8 cups of liquid, and stir into soup pot with barley and salt and pepper.
Add all the vegetables to the pot with the meat, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered until the meat is tender. It takes about one and a half hours. (Adapt to a crockpot,if desired) You would have more knowledge about that than I do!