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Won't you come home to pearl barley? It sure makes a good soup

I want to make beef barley soup and was told to use Scotch barley for my recipe. What is that, and is it different from just plain barley that comes in a box?

Also, if you have a good beef barley recipe, I would like to compare it with the one I have.

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Well, there is Scotch barley, pearl barley, hulled barley, and a bunch of other types, but the only barley I'm really concerned about is the one they use to make beer. now that is good barley.

As far as soup goes, the person who told you to use Scotch barley may have been thinking about "Scotch broth" (or maybe they weren't thinking at all).

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The "box" barley that you are referring to is known as pearl barley. It has been steamed and polished and is different from Scotch barley, which has been husked and coarsely ground. Also, pearl barley comes in different sizes: coarse, medium and fine, which is the type most people use in soups.

No one is stopping you from using Scotch barley in your soup, but it will need more time to cook than pearl barley.

There are hundreds of variations of beef barley soup. What I look for is lots of garlic and the use of beef stew meat instead of ground meat.

Beef Barley Soup

2 pounds beef stew meat

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic

2 onions, diced

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5 stalks celery, diced

5 carrots, peeled and diced

2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 teaspoons dried basil

3 quarts low-sodium beef broth

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1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes

1 cup pearl barley

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Dice the stew meat into small pieces and reserve. Heat the oil in a large stockpot and add the beef and garlic. Saute over a high flame until the beef browns slightly. Add onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, thyme and basil. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook about 5 minutes. Add the broth and tomatoes and increase the heat to medium high. Once the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for several hours. When the beef is very tender, add the barley and parsley and simmer for about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

My husband does not like mushrooms, but I have a lot of recipes that use mushrooms as the main ingredient. Can I substitute something else? I am looking forward to any suggestions.

Actually, my son is not a mushroom fan either, although I am determined that before he goes off to college he won't be picking them off of his pizza.

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The two things that mushrooms do in recipes are add flavor and, depending on the dish, provide extra moisture. If a recipe calls for mushrooms to be sauteed before being added to the recipe, then moisture is not an issue. You could divide your preparation before adding mushrooms and serve half with and half without. (Yes, we do go to this extreme in our house.)

If you feel that your recipe minus mushrooms will be less than flavorful, you could substitute some beef stock that has been reduced down to a syrup consistency. You can impress your husband by calling the stuff by its fancy French name, glace de viande.

If you think your recipe needs both the flavor and moisture that mushrooms provide, simply add beef broth.

To achieve something close to the texture of mushrooms, the best substitution in my opinion is tofu. Like mushrooms, it will absorb the flavors of the dish, but, if he won't eat mushrooms, you may have a tough time pushing tofu.


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