There's a reason why certain soup recipes like this one from America's Test Kitchen are a classic and this one is no exception. This soup is a complete, delicious meal and easy to whip up, especially when made with a cut of meat that browns and tenderizes quickly.
Beef and Barley Soup
Since the steak crowds the saucepan in step 1, browning won't begin until its meat juices evaporate.
8 ounces blade steak, trimmed of gristle and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
6 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 cup quick-cooking barley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Pat steak dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add steak and cook until browned all over, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in now-empty pot until shimmering. Add mushrooms, carrots, and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until any mushroom juice has evaporated and vegetables begin to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add tomato paste, garlic, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth, soy sauce, and browned steak, along with any accumulated juices, and bring to simmer, scraping bottom of pot to loosen any browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.
Stir in barley and continue to simmer until barley and steak are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
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