As we have had more snow this year than in the last five years combined, there have been many gripes and grumbles about the weather lately. I, however, have no complaints. My emotions and mood are very sensitive to the weather but it's not the dreary, sunless days that most people associate with S.A.D. that have an adverse affect on me. For the past few years, we've had mild winters but they've also been indecisive winters. 30 degrees one day, 60 degrees the next, and so on and so forth, for months on end. While some relish in the momentary and fleeting warmth, I feel like Mother Nature is toying with me. I feel jerked around.
This winter there haven't been those lapses into spring-like weather. It turned cold in December and it has pretty much stayed that way until now, March. Which is how it should be in the winter. Things feel in balance, not all topsy-turvy and out of whack.
(I reflect on this purely on a local level. The victims of the recent natural disasters in other parts of the world are ever-present in my thoughts and I am deeply aware that they do not feel that the world is in balance at this moment).
***I knew I wanted to make one last hearty winter soup before the end of the season so I settled on this Beef and Barley which I adapted from The Kitchn. I served them with Herb Gruyere Biscuits, a recipe that I found on Viola with Emily. (I won't post that recipe since I followed the one on Emily's blog almost exactly. My only modifications were to use a little chopped fresh rosemary instead of the sage and I used just 1 stick of butter, instead of 1 1/2 sticks that the original recipe calls for).
Beef and Barley
2 pound chuck roast, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 onion, diced
4 celery stalks, medium slices
3 carrots, medium slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
4 cups beef stock
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup barley
salt and pepper
Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a large soup pot on medium high heat. Add the meat cubes, in a single layer and brown on all sides (about 2-3 minutes on each side). Remove the meat and pour any remaining liquid over it. Set aside.
Using the same pot, add a little more oil and once heated add the onions. Saute for 3-4 minutes. Add celery, carrots, and the garlic. Saute for another 3-4 minutes or until slightly tender (this soup is going to cook for a long time so you don't want the veggies to get too tender just yet).
Pour the wine in the pan to deglaze and cook until most of the wine is reduced - about 5 minutes. Add the tsp. of Worcestershire sauce, the beef, and then the beef and chicken broths. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add the barley (and water if needed) and simmer for another 30-45 minutes - or until meat and barley are both tender.
Since I served this with the Gruyere cheese biscuits, I topped the soup with a little grated Gruyere cheese, just to tie things all together.
Note: After making this, I really think that a good quality meat is essential to this dish. I found a really nice looking 2 pound roast at the grocery store that had a nice thin marble running through it. As I was chopping it up, it had a nice rich and deep aroma, even before I started cooking it. It was a little pricey but in retrospect it was worth every penny. My husband said that it was the most flavorful and tender beef that I'd ever made.