I’ve made quite a few slow cooker meals over the years, and have found some pretty great ones (Chicken Tikka Masala and Chinese Pork being two of our favorites). I’ve found some pretty awful ones too…which we will leave unnamed. Sometimes, though, those great slow cooker meals take a few extra steps to make them that good. I love when I run across one that consists of nothing more than throwing a bunch of good stuff in a slow cooker, walking away for a day, and coming home to a satisfying dinner.
This, thankfully, is one of those slow cooker meals. It’s a great one to have in your back pocket now that the weather is getting crisp (What’s this talk of possible flurries on Halloween when it was 80 earlier this week? Now, THAT’s scary!).
This soup is hearty and delicious, and good for you too! And other than a few minutes of prep work, it’s basically hands off for up to ten hours.
I started by chopping up my vegetables…onion, carrots, and garlic all got the dice. I also chopped up a good bit of fresh Rosemary.
The beef you’ll need for this soup is a lean beef bottom round roast, like a pot roast, but you’ll only need a pound of it. I bought a 2 1/2 lb. roast, cut it in half and popped the other half in the freezer so I’ll be ready to make this another time this season. A little roast goes a long way, though. I was honestly surprised at how beefy this soup ended up being!
The beef should be sliced into inch thick slices. Leaving it in larger pieces and then breaking it up later assures that the meat won’t turn to mush during the long cook time.
The other thing you’ll need for this soup is pearl barley. DO NOT buy the quick cooking pearled barley that’s readily available in your grain aisle. This soup is cooking for a long time, so you don’t want a ten minute grain! I was able to find regular cooking pearl barley in the organic section of my grocery store.
I love barley. It has this great bite to it that you just don’t get with rice, but it’s mild enough that my kids don’t mind eating it at all. Plus, it’s great for soups and stews because it works as a thickener.
Once all of my ingredients were together, I got them going in my crock pot. Everything above went in, along with some Worcestershire sauce, beef stock, tomato juice, water, and a good dose of pepper.
Nine hours later, I removed the now tender beef slices from the pot and shredded it up.
The beef went back into the pot, and then I also added in a box of frozen chopped spinach that I’d thawed and squeezed dry. I stirred the spinach in, and let the soup hang out for about ten more minutes, while I got a salad together.
Dinner that night was delicious! The rosemary really comes through, but in a delicious not-overpowering way. It really compliments the meat and vegetables, and turns what could have been just an average beef soup into something really special. Plus, that barley and the beef make it hearty and quite filling, so you’ll likely have leftovers to enjoy the next day. Dinner times two!
SLOW COOKER BEEF AND BARLEY SOUP WITH ROSEMARY
Adapted from Weight Watchers: Family Style Cookbook
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- ¼ cup fresh Rosemary leaves (about 4 sprigs' worth), chopped
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 3 cups beef stock
- 3 cups tomato juice
- 3 cups water
- ¾ cup pearl barley (NOT quick cooking!)
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- 1 lb. lean beef bottom round roast, trimmed of fat and sliced into 1 inch slices
- 1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
- Combine all of the ingredients except for the spinach in a 6 quart slow cooker.
- Cover and cook until the beef and barley are tender, 4-5 hours on HIGH or 8-10 hours on LOW.
- Remove the beef from the slow cooker and shred with two forks. Return the beef to the pot.
- Add the spinach, stir in, and allow to cook for 10 more minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.