Whether it’s the coldest day of the year or the beginning of warmer temperatures, this beef and barley soup is the perfect recipe to prepare. Full of hearty chunks of beef, carrots, and celery and finished with pearled barley, the soup has a warming effect that’s second the none. The best part is that it takes only a few steps to prepare, simply some browning of the meat, and you’re on your way!
Cut the chuck roast into 1-inch pieces. Sprinkle the pieces with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat the oil in a large oven-safe Dutch oven or stockpot over medium to medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add half of the beef. Sear the beef on two sides until it is well browned and has a crust, 4-6 minutes per side. Once seared, set the beef aside on a plate. Do the same process to the remaining half of the beef.
When the beef is seared, turn the heat down and allow the Dutch oven to cool slightly. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until it is soft and browned, 4-5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir into the onion until it deepens in color, 2-3 minutes. Add the red wine. Cook and stir the wine, bringing up all the brown bits on the Dutch oven, deglazing, until the wine is almost fully evaporated, 3-4 minutes.
After the wine is evaporated, add the beef and any juices back to the Dutch oven. Pour in the beef stock and diced tomatoes with their juice. Separately, cut the stems off of the parsley. Using butcher's twine, tie together the parsley stems, rosemary, and thyme. Add the bundled herbs, bay leaves, and garlic cloves to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer the soup until the meat is mostly tender, 1 ½ to 2 hours.
After the beef has cooked, add the pearled barley, celery, and carrots. Simmer the soup until the barley is tender, 1 to 1 ¼ hours. Once cooked, remove the bundled herbs and bay leaves. Chop the remaining parsley, add it to the soup, and serve.
When slicing the chuck roast into cubes, make sure to remove any large chunks of fat. While some fat is good when it comes to this soup, overly large pieces can be chewy and not welcome when biting into the meat.
Brown the meat in two batches. This will ensure that the pieces of meat have ample space in which to develop their crust without touching each other, which would cause them to steam rather than caramelize. You’ll know the meat is ready to be turned when it releases easily from the bottom of the pan.
Make sure to add the chopped carrots and celery to the soup in the last hour of cooking. If these two vegetables are added too early, they’ll become mushy and way too soft. One hour should be the perfect amount of time to soften them.