However, I discovered that I didn't have time to make it like I normally would -- spending eight hours on the stove, unless I wanted to leave the stove on overnight. (Ummm, no, not a good idea). So, I grabbed my trusty crockpot.
Beef Barley Stew
2 lbs beef cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large onion, diced
1/2 to 1 pound carrots
3-4 celery stalks cut into bite-sized pieces
2 portabello mushrooms
1 lb barley
5 cloves garlic, chopped finely
Freshly ground black pepper
Put everything, except 1/2 pound of the barley into a crockpot and cover with water. Start simmering on low.
After at least 6 hours have passed, add the remaining barley and bring the water level back up to ensure everything is covered. Cook for at least two hours.
I like a long, slow cooked beef barley stew. The soup gets so rich and unctuous, like satin on the tongue. However, the barley is very cooked down with no firmness to it. This time, by putting the barley in at two different times, I got my unctuous broth and a delightful presence when I chewed.
Note that I didn't mention salt. I didn't salt the soup until I served it because barley is a salt-hog. And because I was cooking the soup with such a low and slow method, I didn't need it to ensure everything cooked properly. By waiting until serving, the barley didn't get a chance to absorb all the salt. And we could adjust the salt to our individual tastes.