Soup is Good Food


Remember the old Campbell's Soup advertising slogan, "Soup is Good Food"? It was a brilliant stroke of marketing genius. Unfortunately, the company was forced to pull that ad campaign in the late Eighties as a result of a legal issue, partially due to the products' high sodium content. Since then, Campbell's has launched a whole line of healthier, lower sodium soups. Good for them! Sadly, some of their soups, as well as several other brands, still contain some ingredient "no nos" such as MSG and high fructose corn syrup. But, that doesn't mean that soup can't still be good food. It can be, and is, very good food, especially when it's homemade from your very own kitchen.

Last week, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that our temperatures were expected to dip into a decidedly "Fall-like" range. In fact, we actually had a few days where it never broke 70 degrees F. That's a big deal around here! I decided to take advantage of the situation and make some good, old-fashioned, simmer on the stove all day, beef barley soup.

Most "made from scratch" soups are really not that difficult to accomplish. The key to a great soup is to start with a rich, flavorful stock. Once you have that, you can play around with different ingredients until you have the perfect soup for you.


I start my beef stock with a variety of different kinds of beef and beef bones, depending on what I can find at the market. My ideal combination is a mixture of beef marrow bones, oxtail and short ribs. To make a big pot of stock that will feed my family for a couple of nights, I use about 2-3 pounds of each. After I rinse and dry them, I lay them out on a baking sheet and toss them with salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Then, I roast them for about 60-90 minutes, until they are nice and browned.


After that, I dump them into a large stock pot along with all of the pan drippings and add carrots, celery and onions. I fill the pot with a mixture of beef broth and water until the beef is totally submerged and bring it all to a boil. When boiling, I reduce the heat and let the contents of the pot simmer for a good three or four hours. Then, I remove the meat and bones back to the baking sheet to cool. While the meat cools, I add the barley and whatever vegetables I plan to use and continue to simmer the soup for another hour. For convenience, I usually take a few packages of frozen mixed vegetables and toss them in as well. When cooled, I take the meat off of the bones and reserve. About ten minutes before I'm ready to serve the soup, I add the meat back in and heat it through.

I have to say, there is nothing that hits the spot better on a chilly evening quite like a nice, steaming hot bowl of hearty and delicious beef barley soup.


Beef Barley Soup (Printable Recipe)


2-3 pounds short ribs

2-3 pounds beef marrow bones

2-3 pounds oxtail or beef shank for soup

3 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 carrots, scrubbed and cut into 3 inch chunks

4 ribs celery, scrubbed and cut into 3 inch chunks

2 large onions, quartered

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

3 bay leaves

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

1-2 quarts canned beef broth (You can omit this and use all water, but I always like to give my stock a little boost.)

5-6 quarts water

2-3 cups quick cooking barley, depending on how much you like in your soup

1 large package frozen mixed vegetables (or any vegetables you like to use in soup)

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Rinse ribs, oxtails and bones and pat dry. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for about 1 hour or until nice and browned.

Pour off as much of the fat as you can and discard. Put the ribs, bones and pan drippings into a large stock pot. Add carrots, celery, onions, peppercorns, bay leaves and thyme to the pot. Pour in beef broth and add water until liquid covers the contents of the pot by one inch.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for approximately 3 hours. Periodically, skim off any scum or icky stuff that forms on the top.

Remove short ribs, oxtails and bones. Set aside to cool. Strain stock into another pot and discard the vegetables and herbs. Bring to a simmer.

Add vegetables and barley to the stock and continue to simmer uncovered until barley is tender.

Remove the meat from the bones, add to the soup and heat through.


Here are some other great cold weather soup recipes from the SGCC archives:

"Quick, But it Tastes Like it Took All Day" Chicken Soup

Soupe au Pistou

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

Quick Caldo Verde


Manggy said…
Ah, the only thing missing would be a thick blanket (and in some cases, another person to be cozy with ;). I don't live in a litigious society, so I dunno who could've possibly had issue with soup being good food... I mean, it's not necessarily bad food either, even with the salt, right? Oh well :) I love the slow-cooked aspect of this, but still maintaining the exquisite flavors that come from caramelizing the meat :)
Jen Yu said…
Mmm, soup weather at last! I love you for posting this recipe. I've never made it, but I *love* the soup. Now I have a trusted recipe to follow. The pic of the beef bones looks so good :) Did I mention I love you?!!? xxoo
Anonymous said…
What a winning recipe, I love barley in soup, this looks warming and inviting.
Such a comforting recipe Susan. A bowl of this would go so well right now. I really should get into making more soups:D
Sarah said…
Beautiful! Nothing beats homemade stock as a base for soup. I love beef-barley, too; this looks like a winner!
Anonymous said…
I also believe that soups, specially hearty soups like this, are good for you. Warms the body, warms the heart! :)
I bet this was absolutely great! This looks good and that beef...I bet it was tasty!

RecipeGirl said…
I'm with you... I see clouds today and I better make some soup quickly before they go away! It's supposed to be 68 today! Yay!

I'm so impressed that you really go all out and make your own beef stock and everything. I never take the time to do that. You're inspiring me!
Anonymous said…
Thanks for de-mystifying the making of a flavorful beef broth. Chicken broth has made many, many entrances into my home, but never beef. I'll give this a try. Love the barley addition ... the texture is so wonderful!
Anonymous said…
what a yummy-looking soup! it's the kind of soup you could eat for days on end and still be happy and warm, i think.
Engineer Baker said…
Wow - I saw the first picture and immediately decided that I had to make it. I love love love soup season :)
Snooky doodle said…
these are the ideal winter food :)
Deeba PAB said…
Soup for the heart & soup for the soul...warming & delicious!
You're so right, Susan. I love to make homemade soup. And I were Campbell's, I'd be feeling nervous after seeing this soup. :)
Maria said…
looks like a comforting bowl of goodness!
The Food Hunter said…
Perfect timing. I'm thinking of making some beef soup this weekend and yours looks delicious. Thanks
Dee said…
Your stock for this recipe surely must be wonderfully rich with those slow roasted beef bones. I adore soup & this one looks near perfect! Yum! I'm heading to the kitchen soon with this one in mind! thanks! Perfect November recipe!
CookiePie said…
That is some hearty and delicious-looking soup! I bet the samily was thrilled to come home and find that on the table - yum!
Peter M said…
Beef barley is one of my fave soups and you've represented it very well here..good on ya!
Anonymous said…
I never knew Campbells used that slogan but soup certainly is good food! Yours looks wonderful!
Karen said…
I could gnaw on those roasted bones, they look so good! i love soup weather, too and plan to have a lot of it this Winter. Good recipe!
MaryBeth said…
I so love soup and during this time of year I want to eat it all the time. Your beef barley soup looks so warm and inviting. Yum!
Cakelaw said…
This would be fabulous to warm the tum in winter.
Anonymous said…
You're right, there's nothing like beef barley on a warm day. Well, unless you count mushroom and barley. Or beef and vegetable. I'm such a soup floozy.
Lisa said…
My aunt's recipe for Beef Barley Soup is on my list of things to make soon. Now that I have seen your photos I can hardly wait. Your stock looks particularly gorgeous. YUM!
grace said…
haven't you seen those commercials pushing corn syrup? it's not a bad thing! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)
i love barley in soup--it provides such a great contrasting texture and great nutrition too. :)
Jescel said…
wow.. i'm glad to know that there is still someone out there who is willing to invest her time in making a good, homemade soup.. impressive Susan! soup looks so good!
Olga said…
I'd love one bowl please :)
The meat looks very tender!
You are right: soup is perfect for this weather (also, chili!)
squawmama said…
Wow this will be on my table some cold wintery day... Thanks for the recipe I loved it...Beff Barley YUMO!

Love your soup here Susan, but I must admit, I'd like to be nibbling on those bones!! :)
Tish said…
Mmm looks delicious! My dad loved soup and I made it for him fairly often even though making it the right way, like your recipe, takes hours. But damn is it ever good. I think I shall make some of this for myself soon and a veggie alternative for the boyfriend, too.
Ivy said…
This soup looks to die for!
I've gotta try this!
The meat looks heavenly. :)
BanginFood said…
I'm getting very hungry looking at this soup. It looks delicious, I'll have to try it.
Meg said…
I love barley and now I have a new way to enjoy it!
Anonymous said…
Cooking soup is one of the great things about winter. Is anything better than walking in the door of a house with a pot of soup simmering on the stove? Yum!
Anonymous said…
I'll never buy anything canned after this. Thanks for another great recipe.
Queen B. said…
that looks amazing !
Unknown said…
i just love your recipes! i am making three of your soups this week alone!
Susan @ SGCC said…
Thanks so much, Holly! I'm so glad that you're enjoying my recipes! :D

Popular Posts