Beef and Barley Soup

I love making soup because it’s so versatile. You can adjust any of the ingredients to your own personal liking or add things as you wish. Beef and Barley is one of my families favorites. When I make soup I usually just throw it together. But I wanted to share with you our favorite soup so I made sure to write down everything I did so I could pass it on to you. Please feel free to adjust this to your taste.

Beef and Barley Soup:

Serves 4-6 people.

  • 1 1/2 – 2lbs cubed stew meat
  • 4 tbs Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 carrots, diced small
  • 1 onion, diced small
  • 1 garlic clove chopped finely
  • 1/2lb-3/4lb fresh green beans, ends cut off and cut into small pieces
  • 1 (15oz) canned corn, drained
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red wine (or beef broth to deglaze)
  • 2 (32oz) Beef Broth
  • 1 (32oz) Chicken Broth
  • 3/4 cup instant barley
  1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat, add 2tbs olive oil. Salt and Pepper the cubed beef. Once the oil is hot, add the cubed beef in batches and brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from pan and continue browning the meat till all the meat is browned.
  2. Lower the heat to medium and add the remaining 2tbs of olive oil and the carrots and onion; saute till softened, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook till fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the wine (or beef broth) to deglaze the pan. Let simmer for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the beef and chicken broth,(If you need to add more broth, use chicken broth) bay leaf, fresh thyme, canned corn, green beans, and diced tomatoes. Let simmer on low for about 1 1/2 hours. Add the barley for the last 20 minutes of cooking. Remove the bay leaf before serving. Enjoy!

Source: Gina Marie Original

Chicken and Dumplings

I’ve been on a sweet kick lately so it’s time for something savory. The weather has turned cold and we even had our first big snow storm of the season last week. When there is 5-6 inches of snow in your yard you want something warm and comforting. This is where chicken and dumplings comes into play. Most chicken and dumplings can be very bland and not at all impressive. I’ve found a recipe that is neither one of those. Everything is full of flavor even down to the dumplings. I was impressed how the dill dumplings complimented the chicken stew. My whole family loved this and it’s now a regular in our house.

Chicken and Dumplings:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 medium carrots, cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup (spooned and leveled) all-purpose flour
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, or 3/4 Teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas
  1. In a Dutch oven (or a 5-to-6-quart heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid), heat butter over medium. Add onion, carrots, and thyme. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup flour and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly; season with salt and pepper. Nestle chicken in pot; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make dumplings: In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining 3/4 cup flour, dill, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. With a fork, gradually stir in 1/2 cup milk to form a moist and soft batter. It should be just a little thicker than pancake batter and should easily drop from the tip of a spoon. (Add additional 2 tablespoons milk if too thick.) Set aside.
  3. Stir peas into pot. Drop batter in simmering liquid in 10 heaping tablespoonfuls, keeping them spaced apart (dumplings will swell as they cook). Cover, and simmer until chicken is tender and dumplings are firm, 20 minutes. Serve.

Pasta Fagioli

The colder weather is slowly arriving. There is nothing better than sitting down to dinner with a warm bowl of soup on a chilly night. Pasta Fagioli is a great soup to warm you up. Many people love eating this at a popular chain restaurant, I know I do. But why not make a version of it at home? This recipe is amazing! It’s as good, if not better than what you get at Olive Garden and it doesn’t take that much time to make. This recipe makes a large amount of soup. I would suggest freezing the leftovers, that way you have Pasta Fagioli when you want it.

Pasta Fagioli:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 package sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • ½ large (or 1 medium) onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can white cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 58 oz. beef broth
  • 28 oz. can tomato sauce (add more if it’s still to beefy tasting)
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz. (1 Cup) small dry pasta
  1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter.  Once melted, add the sausage, crumbling it as it cooks. Using a slotted spoon, remove sausage from pot and discard any grease that remains.
  2. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the same pot. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery.  Saute over medium heat until the vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Carefully add the cooked sausage back into the pot. Add the can of diced tomatoes (do not drain), stir, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the beans, and add the beef broth and tomato sauce. Stir in all of the seasonings. Turn the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat to low, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Add the dry pasta and continue to simmer on low for another 30 minutes.

Source: Pennies on a Platter

Homemade Chicken Stock

If you have never made chicken stock before, you don’t know what you are missing. I love making stock on a day I know that we will be home, since it does take several hours to make. But it’s well worth the waiting time. I make a huge pot and freeze the stock for when I need it. I’ll freeze it in 1 cup portions and up to 4 cups. That way if a recipe calls for a small amount of stock, I don’t have to thaw out 4 cups and have the rest go to waste.

There are so many ways to make stock and you really can’t screw it up. I’ve even taken this recipe and made it without the chicken so I have vegetable stock. When I do that, I add mushrooms to give the veggie stock another dimension. The original recipe calls for 3 whole chickens, but a lot of us don’t have an enormous stock pot to hold that many chickens. I will add the chicken and veggies to the pot and add enough water to fill almost to the top. I usually get about 16-18 cups of stock. You don’t have to defat the stock right away. I found that when you freeze the stock and thaw it in the fridge, the layer of fat will stay on top and can be easily removed before using.

This weekend my mother and Aunt will be visiting. I’m planning on making them a big meal that includes butternut squash risotto. In order to make a great risotto, you need to have great stock. So this past weekend I got the chicken and veggies together and made stock since I was out.

Chicken Stock:

  • 1 (5-pound) roasting chicken
  • 1 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
  • 2 carrots, unpeeled and halved
  • 2 stalks celery with leaves, cut into thirds
  • 2 parsnips, unpeeled and cut in half, optional
  • 10 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 10 sprigs fresh dill
  • 1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in 1/2 crosswise
  • 1 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  1. Place the chicken, onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, parsley, thyme, dill, garlic, and seasonings in a stockpot.
  2. Add enough water to cover and come to 1 inch below the top and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 hours.
  3. Strain the entire contents of the pot through a colander and discard the solids.
  4. Use immediately or pack in containers and freeze for up to 3 months

Source: adapted from Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten

Creamy Fresh Tomato and Basil Soup

Last week I went to the Amish Farmers Market and bought a ton of tomatoes. I love tomatoes and have been making anything and everything with them. I used to not like tomato soup, then I liked it only with grilled cheese, now I love tomato soup! It’s funny as we get older our tastes change. I’ve been wanting to make tomato soup on my own and not go to that can stuff. I saw this recipe in my beloved, signed, Ina Garten cookbook. I knew I had to make this and I’m glad I did. This went great with grilled cheese!

I made a few changes, one was by adding more heavy cream. The basil flavor is very strong and the consistency wasn’t where I wanted it, the extra cream did it. (I made the adjustments in the recipe below) The other thing I did different was pureed it in a food processor. I do not have a food mill, like the recipe calls for. Pureeing it in the food processor and then straining it worked fine. I would love to get a food mill, but till then this method works.

Creamy Fresh Tomato and Basil Soup

  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
  • 2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish
  • 3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.
  2. Add the cream to the soup and process it through a food mill into a bowl, discarding only the dry pulp that’s left. (Alternative method, puree in food processor or blender then strain through fine mesh strainer) Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves

Adapted from: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics