I am far from being the expert cook. Admittedly, I only started liking to cook when I got my dream kitchen. And I only started cooking successfully last year. You Tube played a big role in this big achievement of mine. Gusteau was right when he said, “Anyone can cook.” So with my new found success, haha, I am finding courage to share with you some simple recipes that have become a regular part of our home menu.
I grew up with my mom’s barley soup. It’s it also my favourite comfort food in Cibo. So whenever I run out of ideas, this is the dish I whip up for my family. It’s kid-approved. So I always make sure we have barley in our pantry. Another thing that’s a staple in my kitchen is Bertolli olive oils, which is finally available again in the Philippines through Fly Ace Corporation, a leading distributor of food products. I met the people behind Fly Ace when I hosted the launch of Lotus Biscoff, which they also officially brought into the country.
Bertolli is the “World’s Best Selling Olive Oil”. There are three types of Bertolli Olive Oils –Extra Virgin, Classico and Extra Light. In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing recipes using each of the three variants. Basically, Extra Virgin olive oil is best used for marinades, dressing and dips. You don’t cook with it. For cooking, use Classico olive oil. Its is perfect for sauces, roasting or grilling. Then there is the Extra Light olive oil, with its mild taste, making it perfect for sautéing, frying and even baking.
For my barley soup, I used Bertolli Classico olive oil. I based my barley soup on Ina Garten’s basic recipe but reformulated it based on what was available in my kitchen pantry. I also altered the process a bit and it worked fine. I hope you find my easy version to work for you too.
Here’s my recipe for Beef Barley Soup
1 Bertolli Classico olive oil
1/2 kg beef shreds (oxtail tastes better but you’ll need time and patience to make it tender)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped leeks
1 cup diced carrots
3/4 to 1 cup chopped onion (white onions work best, but I only had local red onions so I used less)
1/2 to 1 cup diced celery (I like celery so I placed 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
3 bay leaves
8 cups canned beef broth (or homemade from beef or chicken bones)
3/4 cup pearled barley
2. Add the beef strips, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally, for at least 10 minutes until browned all over. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon and set aside.
3. Add the leeks, carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the fat in the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the vegetables start to brown. Throw in sprigs of thyme and bay leaves.
4. Return the beef to the pot and add the broth, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Once boiling, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. You may discard the thyme sprigs (if you bundled it) and the bay leaves, and skim off the fat.
5. Add the barley. Let it simmer for another 40 minutes. This is where I altered Ina Garten’s recipe. She recommends boiling the barley separately, draining it, then adding it to the soup mixture. I placed my barley directly into my soup.
You can change the ingredients based on what you have in your fridge. If you prefer a heartier meal, choose bigger chunks of meat with bone. If so, you may not even need beef stock. Just use water.