Beef With Barley Soup

Makes: 3 quarts

Ingredients:
2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, shoulder or blade cut, cut into 1 ½-inch thick steaks
1 pound beef bones, roasted
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced or cut into half-moons
2 cups leeks, white and light green part only, cut into half-moons or large diced (freeze leaves and ends to make homemade chicken stock)
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1 /2 cups dry sherry or red wine, optional
3 quarts stock – I prefer 2 quarts chicken and 1 quart beef
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 large bay leaves
12 black peppercorns
1 cup pearled barley
4 cups chicken stock or water

Equipment needed:
Cheesecloth
Kitchen twine

To garnish:
Fresh parsley, finely chopped
Grated parmesan cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place beef bones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Create the herb sachet, or bouquet garni, by placing the thyme sprigs, bay leaves and black peppercorns in the center of a square of cheese cloth (about 8 x 8 inches), then gather the ends together and secure with twine; set aside.

Season beef with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over high heat until lightly smoking. Cut each steak in half and add to the pot and cook, turning every 2 minutes, until well browned on all sides, about 5 to 6 minutes per side. Turn heat off and transfer beef to a sheet pan or baking dish and let cool for at least 15 minutes before carving.

Return pot to burner and add the carrot, onion, celery, leeks and garlic. Cook over medium-low heat until lightly browned, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom, about 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a heatproof bowl and set aside.

If using, add dry sherry or red wine to the pot and cook over medium-high heat until liquid is reduced by half, about 8 minute, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the stock and bring to a boil.

Cut beef into ½-inch to ¾-inchc cubes. Once the stock has reached a boil, reduce heat to lowest setting and add the beef chunks to the stock, along with the roasted bones and herb sachet.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce to a low and simmer gently until beef is tender, about 1 to 2 hours. Use a large spoon to skim any foam that rises to the top.

Meanwhile, in a smaller pot, bring 4 cups chicken stock or water to a boil and add the barley. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, drain well and transfer to a heatproof bowl to cool until ready to use.

Once the soup has simmered for at least an hour, discard the bones and herb sachet. Turn heat off, and let soup rest for 30 minutes, uncovered, to allow the fat to solidify at the surface for easy removal.

Once the fat has been skimmed off, add the cooked barley and vegetables and simmer gently over medium-low heat until barley and vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Taste soup and season with salt and pepper as desired, in half-teaspoon increments. If soup is too dry, add more stock or water to achieve desired consistency.

Garnish with fresh parsley and grated parmesan cheese.