Mushroom, barley, and steak soup

December 23, 2009

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Serves 4

3 2/3 cups water
1/3 cup pearl barley
1/2 pound flank steak, scored lightly on both sides
Olive oil (for brushing)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large leek (white and pale green parts), halved, thinly sliced, and well rinsed
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
10 ounces crimini mushrooms, quartered
8 ounces small white mushrooms, quartered
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons medium-dry sherry
3 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1. In a saucepan, bring 2/3 cup of the water to a boil. Add the barley, lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the barley is barely tender (it will cook more later). Set aside.

2. Brush the steak with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil the steak for 5 minutes on a side or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 135 degrees. Transfer to a cutting board.

3. In a soup pot over medium-high heat, heat the 2 tablespoons oil. Add the onion, leek, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes.

4. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes or until the mushrooms release their liquid.

5. Stir in the tomato paste, sherry, beef broth, remaining 3 cups water, barley, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the vegetables and barley are tender. If the soup seems too thick, add more beef broth or water.

6. Cut the steak into 1/2-inch pieces and stir them into the soup. Reheat and taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper, if you like. Sprinkle with parsley. Adapted from How on Earth: The Store