An inch of snow on the ground makes this soup particularly appetizing. The fact that it uses the crockpot and is a freezer food recipe is a bonus!
Today is Freezer Food Friday.
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Robust – there’s no better word for this soup bolstered with cubes of beef, with lots of mushrooms, root vegetables and barley. This is a real winter beater soup.
1 lb. (500 g) stewing beef cubes
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) each salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) dried thyme leaves
2 Tbsp. (30 ml) canola oil
1 cup (250 ml) diced onions
1 cup (250 ml) diced celery
1 cup (250 ml) diced carrots
6 cups (1.5 L) sliced cremini or white mushrooms (1 lb/500 g)
6 cups (1.5 L) chicken broth, low sodium recommended
1/2 cup (125 ml) pot or pearl barley
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) tomato paste
1 bay leaf
Trim fat from beef: if necessary, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes. Sprinkle beef with salt, pepper and thyme.
In a Dutch oven, heat half of oil over medium-high heat; brown beef, in 2 batches, each about 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker. Drain off any fat.
Add remaining oil. Fry onions, celery and carrots over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms to skillet; fry, stirring often, until mushroom liquid begins to evaporate, about 5 minutes. Scrape mixture into slow cooker.
Pour 1 cup of broth into skillet; bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits from bottom of skillet. Scrape into slow cooker along with remaining broth, 2 cups (500 ml) water, barley, tomato paste and bay leaf. Stir to combine.
Cover and cook on low until barley and beef are tender, about 6 to 8 hours. Discard bay leaf. (Make-ahead: Let cool for 30 minutes. Refrigerate, uncovered, in airtight containers until cold. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.)
Makes 8 servings.
TIP: When chilling a large quantity of soup, chili or stew, transfer to several shallow containers, preferably ones that will go into the freezer, and chill uncovered until cold. Freeze and enjoy on a busy evening later in January.