1 lb (454 g) stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper
1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried thyme
2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable 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 mushrooms, 1 lb/500 g
6 cups (1.5 L) chicken stock
1/2 cup (125 mL) pot barley or pearl barley
1 tbsp (15 mL) tomato paste
1 bay leaf
Season beef with salt, pepper and thyme. In large Dutch oven or soup pot, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil over medium-high heat; brown beef, in 2 batches, about 5 minutes. Remove to plate. Drain off any fat in pan.
Add remaining oil to pan; cook onions, celery and carrots over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add mushrooms; cook, stirring often, until mushroom liquid begins to evaporate, about 5 minutes.
Stir in stock and 2 cups (500 mL) water, scraping up any brown bits in pan. Add barley, tomato paste and bay leaf. Return beef and any accumulated juices to pan; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until beef and barley are tender, about 1 hour. Discard bay leaf.
Additional information: Slow-Cooker Meal-in-a-Bowl Mushroom Barley Soup: Follow first three paragraphs. Transfer reserved beef and accumulated juices, vegetables, stock and water to 16-cup (4 L) slow-cooker. Add barley, tomato paste and bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Discard bay leaf.
Vegetarian Meal-in-a-Bowl Mushroom Barley Soup: Omit beef. Cook onions, celery, carrots and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) each salt, pepper and dried thyme in 1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil. Add 1 can (19 oz/540 mL) beans (such as red or white kidney beans, black-eyed peas or black beans), drained and rinsed, along with barley. Cook until barley is tender, about 40 minutes.