Old-Fashioned Beef, Barley & Bean Soup

Click here to view recipe.

Beef, Barley & Bean Soup

Beef, Barley & Bean Soup

It’s still cold and blustery, so I’m posting yet another soup recipe.  This one rotates through our dinner menu at least every three weeks and is filed under “Things I love” in my recipe files.  It’s origins?  My friend Anita’s grandmother, my mother, Wayne’s bubbie, my tastebuds…in summary, it seems like almost every family I know has their own version. And now I have my own.  Compared to other recipes I’ve seen, I add more soup meat and legumes, I omit dry bouillon, there are no canned tomatoes in my version and I make mine in the pressure cooker.

This recipe alone should entice all of you to go forth and purchase a pressure cooker, or P.C.  There is nothing like creating this hearty soup in just 35 minutes – enough to serve a bunch of people with enough leftover to freeze.

It’s an old fashioned soup so the veggies are not al dente and brightly colored.  This is more like something from yesteryear – filling, hearty, not especially beautiful but comforting and satisfying.

English Short Ribs

English Short Ribs

Beef, Barley & Lima Bean Vegetable Soup

Serves 8-12, makes over 20 cups of soup


  • 2 ½ lb soup meat (beef neck bones or short ribs) – I use thick English shortribs  (see photo)
  • ½ (I round mine a bit)  cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1 cup dry lima or other small white beans such as Northern beans
  • ½ cup combination of yellow split peas and brown lentils
  • ½ lb fresh green beans – ends trimmed and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 6 crimini mushrooms, stems removed and cut into 6 pie-shaped wedges
  • 5 large carrots, cut into ½ inch pieces (I don’t peel mine because they are organic)
  • 1 whole brown-skinned onion – remove the skin but leave the root end attached
  • 2 stalks celery, washed and sliced thin
  • 1 small tomato, cut in half
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste (remember the tube?)
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste

Pressure Cooker Method:  Cover meat with water and bring to the boil and skim the grey gunk that rises to the surface.  Add the rest of the ingredients and water to cover the veggies and meat by about two inches. Cook until lima beans are done (approximately 30 minutes under high pressure).  Bring down pressure manually.    Using your handy dandy kitchen tongs, remove the whole onion and soup bones.  Trim the fat away from the meat and remove the bones, then cut meat into bite sized pieces.   Season with salt and pepper.  Return to the refrigerator and when it is cold, you can discard the orange fat layer that forms on top.  I leave this in place if I am freezing the soup and take it off after I defrost it because the fat protects the soup while in the freezer. THIS SOUP SHOULD BE EATEN A DAY AFTER MAKING IT!

The next day this soup thickens a great deal (we call it glue soup in our house) so add water if you want a thinner soup.  It tastes great with a hearty green salad and fresh bread.  This soup keeps for five days in the refrigerator and freezes for up to four months.

If you don’t own a pressure cooker, follow the same method but cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 2-3 hours until the meat is very soft and the barley is cooked through and through.

This entry was posted in Soups and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *