Thursday, February 4, 2010

In the kitchen: Frugal Beef, Barley & Vegetable Soup


This is soup the way my grandmother always made it. It truly doesn’t get any more frugal than this. Nanny kept a bowl in her freezer into which she would put all of her leftover vegetables.


When the bowl was full of peas, carrots, beans, potatoes, or whatever else she had handy, it was time to make soup. I often save leftover bits of pot roast for my soup, too. This household would revolt if I served a meal without meat! But this dish is very filling, and doesn’t require much, if any, meat at all. I also had some leftover kale, which I shredded and tossed into the pot. There are no rules here.


Now, because I love barley and lentils, I add about a cup of each to thicken the soup. That’s my twist on an old family favorite. You could add corn, rice, or whatever else you fancy. I sometimes add pasta, but you’ll want to do this in the final 10 minutes of cooking. Otherwise, it will be a soggy, mushy mess.

I buy my grains online in 25 lb. bags and store them in inexpensive 2.5 gallon buckets available at the hardware store. (Wash them well and choose ones that are opaque! Also check the number on the bottom. It’s important to make sure it’s a good quality container. Read this for more info. ) There are many sites that sell grains online, and because I cannot find a local source, I choose to order them from Bob's Red Mill. I’ve been very pleased with my purchases:

hard red wheat berries

pearl barley

whole oat groats

soy beans


corn flour

apple cinnamon & grains hot cereal (which is a family favorite!)

flax seeds

hulled millet

They also have many different kinds of beans, flours, cereals, and the like. Check them out!


I fill the pot up with water and throw in some herbs and spices. Most of the time I use thyme, garlic, sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, and some onions to season the soup. But it truly depends on my mood. A little white wine is good if you have it. I don’t always. And a tablespoon or two of butter or extra virgin olive oil is also nice. Then, cover the pot and let it simmer for 2-3 hours.

Easy as pie. (This saying has always irked me – pie is not the easiest thing to whip up. Getting the crust right takes some effort!)


And it’s tasty, too. Cornbread makes a fabulous accompaniment.


Ann said...

I will try barley in the next soup I make, never thought to do that! I use it in casseroles though. I love soup with garlic bread.

Will and Mary Frances Stanford said...

Hey Melissa,

Thanks so much for your posts on our blog. It's been really sweet to read what you've read. I really admire all that you post. We've only been married for a little over a year, and I'm trying to learn the balance of working outside the home and being a homemaker. I'm beginning to agree about the Atkins diet. Will and I are definitely going to look at that book, and pray about what to do. Definitely really want to try that Cinnamon Raisin Bread!!! That may be worth coming off of it alone.... :) I'm learning a lot from you... so thanks!

In Christ - Mary Frances

melissa sews said...

Mary Frances, I remember well our first year of marriage. It takes some work to get that balance right (I still struggle from time to time!) It's important to make time to do the things you enjoy, even if it means the laundry piles up on occasion. :)

I'm glad to know you're rethinking that Atkins diet. Honestly, during my teens and early twenties I tried every diet known to man. It wasn't until the last few years that I realized what an impact this had on my health. I have developed Crohn's disease, which is a digestive/autoimmune disorder. If I had taken better care of my body, I believe I could have avoided it. Please learn from my mistakes!!! Read the book. :)

I'm not as strict with my diet as the book suggests, but I do eat organic, whole foods that nourish our bodies. I avoid processed foods laden with preservatives and chemical additives. I feel so much better now. I want to grow as much of our own food as possible. That way I KNOW what we're eating. I have the entire set of Sue Gregg cookbooks (she's a Christian who was called by God to teach us how to eat - - try her free recipes, so good! Easier recipes than in the other book.) and highly recommend them. They're based on the Nourishing Traditions food philosophy.

It's that mindset that prompted us to buy this 'farm'. I believe the Lord is leading us toward a different life style. He's calling us to take responsibility for our food. A very basic thing, which unfortuanatly, is being lost in our country. I'm so enjoying this journey! God is so good!

I'll keep you in my prayers. Feel free to ask me anything. I was new at this once, too. :)

God's Peace,