As with alot of hand me down recipes, things are not always measured exactly.I know ox tails might sound like a strange meat to use, but it is the ONLY meat I will use in my soup...it give it the sweetest flavor that no other meat can!! The texture when it is cooked is that of a chuck roast, so it will not be foreign to your family (just don't tell them what part of the cow they are eating...lol)..my daughter has been hounding me to give her my mom's vegetable soup recipe so, having said that, here goes...it is by far the best vegetable soup I have ever eaten!
1In a large crock pot place the ox tails with the onion soup mix and add enough water just to cover the ox tails and cook on low overnight or until the meat is falling off the bones. I do this the night before I want to have the soup. When done, remove all of the bones and skim off some (not all) of the fat and retain all of the juice. Keep your meat and juice and some of the fat in the crock pot.
2Add the remaining ingredients except the barley.Take the empty diced tomato can and fill about 3/4 of the way with chicken broth and add that to the pot. Turn crock pot on high until it starts cooking then turn it down on low and let it simmer stirring occasionally for about 4-6 hours until veggies are tender.I dare you not to taste it during this process, your house should be smelling pretty good by now.
3About an hour before you want to serve it ad the barley and continue cooking until the barley is done. I use the chicken broth to thin it down if it gets to thick from the barley. ENJOY
4NOTE: Add what ever veggies you choose this is just the way I do it. Also if you like thyme, I sometimes add that as well...play with it and adjust the flavors to your liking...it makes alot and it does freeze well. Hope you like it as much as my family has for many years!