Slow Cooker Beef and Mushroom Barley Soup*****
The barley, cooked over a long period of time, adds a velvety texture as well as a nutty flavor to the soup. This soup is a warm and rich meal in a bowl.
1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons EVOO oil
1 onion, chopped
8 oz button mushrooms, quartered
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups low-sodium beef broth
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
2/3 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves, garnish (optional)
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat; season beef with s&p, brown, and add to the slow cooker. Add the rest of the ingredients in order to the slow cooker.
Cover and cook, on either low or high, until the beef is tender, 6 to 7 hours on low or 4 to 5 hours on high. Before serving, stir in the parsley.
To Make Ahead
The night before (or a day in advance), brown the beef and store in a container in the fridge. Wash and dice all the vegetables store in a seperate container in ther fridge; be sure to store the browned meat in one container and the vegetables in another container. In the morning, add the chilled ingredients to the slow cooker, then add the tomatoes with their juice, the broth, thyme, and barley to the slow cooker. Proceed with the cooking insturctions above. The cooking time will run to the high end of the range given in the recipe.