Beef and Barley Soupless

This recipe is dedicated to the Irish, God bless them, because of all the nationalities I can think of, it is the romantic, passionate and generous Irish who most welcome the world to celebrate with them. There is hardly a person who does not take pleasure in the wearing of the green on St. Patrick’s Day, or thrill to the stirring wail of the bagpipes, or long to watch The Quiet Man just one more time. Doesn’t everyone want to be Irish, at least for one day of the year? I chose this recipe for St. Patrick’s Day because barley is a much appreciated staple on the Irish table.

This recipe came about because I have long loved beef and barley soup but wished I could have more of the barley and less of the liquid. One day I discovered that Elliott’s mother, Bessie (whom I never had the fortune to meet), used to have a wonderful recipe for a barley casserole prepared with onions and beef broth. I added the cooked short ribs of beef (a very flavorful cut), some dried porcini mushrooms often used in the soup, little nublets of melting marrow for garnish, and I had the dish of my fantasy!

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I like to begin preparations the night before to make it easier to skim all the fat from the stock.

room temperature volume ounces/pounds grams/kilograms
beef marrow bones* 5 pounds 2 kilograms, 268 grams
short ribs, trimmed of excess fat 4 pounds 1 kilogram, 814 grams
beef broth (preferably College Inn) 4 14.5-ounce cans ( liquid cups) 58 ounces 1 kilogram, 644 grams
dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed under cold running water 1.5 ounces 43 grams
5 black peppercorns
1 large bay leaf
unsalted butter 4 tablespoons 2 ounces 57 grams
2 medium onions, chopped 2 cups 9 ounces 255 grams
sugar a pinch
fresh mushrooms, sliced 5 cups 1 pound 454 grams
pearl barley 3 cups 21 ounces 600 grams
fresh parsley preferably flat-leafed, minced 2 tablespoons 0.25 ounce 7 grams

*Ask the butcher for hollow shinbones, as they have the most marrow.

Or use 4 cubes Glace de Viande and cups water; add teaspoons salt.


To remove the marrow from the bones, run a skewer around the marrow to release it and push it out in one piece. Discard the bones. Place the marrow in a bowl of lightly salted cold water and refrigerate overnight to remove the blood.

In a large heavy casserole, place the short ribs, beef broth, dried mushrooms, black peppercorns and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Cool for 1 hour. Remove the meat, mushrooms, peppercorns and bay leaf; discard the peppercorns and bay leaf and allow the beef, mushrooms and broth to cool. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day

Remove and discard the solid layer of congealed fat from the top of the broth. Remove the meat from the bones and add the bones to the broth. Bring the broth to a boil and boil until reduced to 6 cups. Discard the bones, and set the broth aside.

Meanwhile, cut the meat into large cubes. Chop the porcini into ½-inch pieces.

In a large heavy casserole, melt the butter. Add the onions, sprinkle with the pinch of sugar and sauté until lightly browned. Add the sliced fresh mushrooms and cook, covered, for 3 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the barley and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the reserved porcini mushrooms, beef cubes and 6 cups beef broth. Cover tightly and simmer for 1 hour or until all the broth has been absorbed and the barley is tender; if necessary, add a little water and continue cooking until tender. (You may also bake the casserole in a preheated 350°F. oven for 60 to 70 minutes.)

Meanwhile drain the marrow and cut it into ½-inch slices. Bring a medium saucepan of lightly salted water just to a simmer. Add the marrow and poach it just until translucent and soft, about 3 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the marrow or it will melt completely. Drain and set aside.

When ready to serve, top the beef and barley with the nublets of poached marrow and sprinkle with the minced parsley.