It is also that time of year where we crave comfort food. I love to make soups and stews during this winter months as not only are they warm and comforting, then are just plain warm your soul.
I love french onion soup and I was craving it but I was also looking for a one dish supper as well and although french onion has depth of flavor with its caramelized onions, I felt on this particular night, I need to add some meat to make it a complete meal.
Another one of my husband's favorite winter soups is beef barley. It was when I pictured combining these two classics into one hearty soup that I felt that I had found the solution for dinner that night.
So I went online and to my cookbook library in search of recipes that would provide me some additional inspiration for my dinner concept. I often search through many recipes to develop one that best suits my personal tastes and those of my family and friends.
I also knew that I was not in the mood to spend the time in the kitchen to build my traditional french onion soup recipe from scratch as it is slowly caramelizing the onions on the stove that build that rich flavor of the classic.
So in search the web I found a french onion soup with beef and barley from Cooking Light January 2000 that would serve as a great starting point to build from.
As my husband is not a fan of mushrooms, I sadly had to omit them but I know they would be delightful in the recipe. You could also substitute mushroom stock for half of the beef stock if you wanted to infuse some mushroom flavor into the recipe without adding mushrooms.
Here is the version that I made that night. It was definitely a keeper. I love the complex flavor that the sesame oil and the ginger give the recipe.
French Onion Soup with Beef and Barley
2 tablespoon dark sesame oil, divided
4 medium onions, thinly sliced
2-3 shallots, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced or 1 tablespoon dried garlic blend such as Wildtree Garlic Galore
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1 pound lean boneless sirloin steak or veal, cut into 1/2 cubes
8 cups beef stock, unsalted
1 bottle of lager beer
1 cup uncooked pearl barley
1/4 cup dry sherry
salt and white pepper to taste
sliced French bread baguette
shredded Gruyère or Swiss cheese
Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in the bottom of a large skillet. Add beef and brown on all sides until nearly cooked through. Don't skip this step as it adds a lot of richness to the soup when the beef is browned first.
Heat 1 remaining tablespoon oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, shallots, ginger, and garlic; sauté 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Your kitchen will smell amazing!!
Add sugar and teriyaki sauce. Sauté 15 minutes until onions are soft and tender. Adding the teriyaki sauce helps develop flavor similar to if you cooked the onions until they were fully caramelized.
Add remaining ingredients included beef. Stir to combine. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 50 minutes or until barley is tender.
If you have the time, turn down the heat down to simmer and allow to cook for several hours. The beef will then be slow cooked and extremely tender.
Preheat broiler. Top bread slices with cheese and broil until cheese melts and begins to brown.
Ladle soup into bowls and serve with toasted bread on top.
This is a great recipe to make a large batch of on a Sunday when you can simmer it all afternoon and then freeze the leftover for another meal later on. You may need to add a touch of water or stock when you reheat it.
I hope you'll try this recipe the next time you are looking for a warm and cozy soup to make on a cold winter night or something to warm your soul