What's For Dinner Honey, a food blog out of Germany, is hosting a blog roundup with the theme of comfort foods. She says these foods are simple, no frills and easy to prepare. If so, this soup totally fits the bill. It comes together in about an hour, and is just the right weeknight meal for the cold days we've been having.
I got the recipe on the Cooking Light Great Food bulletin board, which is a congenial group and a great source of recipes and cooking tips. Another great source of recipes is food blog events, so be sure to check out What's for Dinner Honey in early February for more comfort food recipes (unfortunately the cold weather will probably still be going strong then).
Adapted from The Big Book of Soups and Stews via the Cooking Light bulletin board
1 pound lean ground beef
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes
15 oz tomato puree (1/2 of a large can - it's what I had on hand)
1/2 cup pearl barley, thoroughly rinsed
4 cups beef stock or broth
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a Dutch oven over medium heat, combine meat, onion, and garlic and cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until it's no longer pink, about five minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until vegetables and barley are tender, about one hour. Discard bay leaf. This can be made ahead to let the flavors develop. It will thicken if you make it ahead.