Notes from the Test Kitchen:
The aroma in the Test Kitchen as we prepared this was nearly irresistible! We couldn’t wait until it was finished and dig in. Let's just say, we weren't disappointed one bit!
oil, margarine or butter
ribs of celery sliced
white or yellow onion diced
finely diced green pepper
carrots sliced into medallions
stew meat cut up 1/2 in cubes. you can use round steak or a well trimmed chuck roast as well
sherry, beef broth, water or dry red wine for pan deglazing
Lawry's seasoned salt or similar product. this is added to taste.
pearled barley (or hulled barley which requires longer cooking time but provides more fiber)
beans (pinto or great northern whites) dained and rinsed
any veggies you may want to add. adding green beans, peas or similar veggies do not change the basic flavor of the soup.
Add 1 tbsp of oil (or margarine/butter) to a large Dutch oven and brown beef in batches. Be sure to dry your beef off with some paper towels BEFORE you brown or the beef won't brown appropriately, it will just turn grey. You want the browning for flavor You can also do this in a frying pan and then transfer all the ingredients to a soup pot.
Deglaze the pan with a bit of broth, water, sherry or dry red wine and save the drippings. Sherry really makes a nice rich flavor.
Into the same pan now cleaned, add other tablespoon of oil.
Saute onions, green pepper and celery until soft. Add carrots and continue sauteing for 3-5 minutes
Add the meat and saute another 3-5 minutes. Add water and broth. (Or transfer to soup pot and then add all the ingredients.)
Add the bay leaf, seasoned salt and the pepper.
Bring to boil, turn down and gently simmer covered for about 1 hour.
Add pearl barley, Cover pan and simmer until soft about 1 hour. (Hulled Barley about 2 hours.) The barley will absorb salt. You may need to add more seasoned salt or you may omit the salt earlier and season after the barley cooks. It depends on the broth you use. Some are very salty.
Add beans. You may stop with the beans or you may add any other veggies like peas, or green beans. Continue cooking for another 1/2 hour or so.
Serve with a crusty bread and a salad for a complete meal.