My mother, Virginia Brewer, used to make a soup similar to this for our family but without the barley. She added corn instead. Unfortunately, I don’t have my mother’s recipe but this is the closest one I have been able to find that tastes like hers. Served with homemade corn muffins, you have a hearty, satisfying winter meal.


  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 (14½-oz.) can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with juice
  • ½ cup pearl barley, thoroughly rinsed
  • 4 cups beef stock or broth
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ tsp. dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Makes 6 servings.


1. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the meat, onion, garlic, celery, and carrots. Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

2. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until vegetables and barley are tender, about 1 hour. Remove bay leaf and discard. Taste, and adjust seasonings, if needed.

Source: The Big Book of Soups & Stews by Maryana Vollstedt

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Barbara Walch

Barbara Walch joined the staff of Plano Profile in August 1986 and currently serves as Food Editor and Associate Publisher, Community Relations. In addition to writing Dining In, a monthly food feature,...