Mushroom Beef Barley Soup

If you have a local butcher shop, know the folks who work in the meat department of your local grocery store, or - like me - are lucky enough to regularly order a half a cow or more, one of the very nicest perks of that situation is access to really good soup bones. You can sometimes find them at a market, but if you know your butcher, they can set you up with glorious bones for making the most amazing soups you'll ever have the chance to taste. But be forewarned: once you've made friends with your butcher, you will never reach for little soup cubes, cans of broth, or the like again. This stuff is magic.

This is my favorite beef soup, but sometimes I just make the stock and ladle it into quart jars and let it hang out in the back of my refrigerator until I want to make everything from beef stroganoff to steak risotto and want some glorious beef stock. But when I want something special, simple, and satisfying, I reach for barley and shred some potatoes for this amazing soup. By shredding the potatoes (no need to peel them unless the skins seem tough or damaged), you allow them to soften and break down under pressure, helping to ensure a nearly-creamy base for this hearty soup featuring tender beef and roasted mushrooms.

Lest you think this soup is only about meat, it also features a bevy of vegetables and a final addition of chopped kale, which helps brighten the soup and add a bit of fiber with the barley. I could eat this soup every single time it snows in Wisconsin. (Pro tip: that's a lot.) This is my most comforting comfort food and it seems ideal to share it as we begin the final month of the year. Enjoy.

Mushroom Beef Barley Soup

  • 3-4 lbs. very meaty beef soup bones
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 large or 2 medium yellow onion(s), peeled and cut into wedges
  • 8 oz. whole button mushrooms, washed and trimmed
  • 3 stalks of celery, divided
  • Water (amount varies)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 c. shredded potato
  • 2 c. carrots, cut into coins
  • 1 T. Quebec Beef Spice or similar hearty seasoned salt
  • 1 c. pearl barley
  • 2 c. chopped kale

Generously salt and pepper the beef bones and place in a baking pan. Roast in a 400° F oven for 20 minutes. Carefully add the onion and the button mushrooms and continue roasting for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before carefully, slicing the beef off the bones. Reserve the sliced beef, onions, and mushrooms. Place the bones inside the pot of your Instant Pot. Add one stalk of celery — you can just break it enough so it will fit. You can also add the peels from the onion and garlic. Add enough water to cover the contents of the pot. Close the pot and set it to cook at high pressure for 1 hour. Allow it to naturally release. Strain the solids from the beef stock. These steps can all be done up to a week in advance if desired.

When you are ready to assemble the soup, begin by slicing the beef into bite-sized pieces, slicing the mushrooms, chopping the 2 remaining stalks of celery, mincing the garlic, shredding the potato, and cutting the carrots. Place all of the above plus the Quebec Beef Spice or seasoned salt and barley in the pot of your Instant Pot. Add the beef stock. If the solids are not entirely covered by the stock, add enough water to do that and set your pot to cook at high pressure for 20 minutes. Allow it to release naturally. Stir the kale into the soup, taste and adjust the seasonings, and serve warm.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 2 hours

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