2 pounds stew meat (nicely marbled beef chunks)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons oil
10 cups water
3 mounded tablespoons good quality beef base*
3 stalks celery (about 2 cups), chopped
2 onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large potato, peeled and shredded, about 2 cups
3-4 large carrots, peeled and shredded, about 2 cups
1 cup barley, rinsed
Generously salt and pepper the beef. In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
When it is very hot, add about 1/3 of the meat. Brown for about 1-2 minutes, then turn to brown the other side. Remove to a plate when it is browned on all sides.
Repeat with remaining meat in 2 more batches. (If you add it all at once it will steam the meat instead of browning it--not what you want.)
When all the meat is browned, add all the meat back to the pot with 10 cups of water. Add 3 healthy tablespoons beef stock concentrate.
Add the chopped celery, onions, and garlic. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 2 hours with the lid on.
When the meat is tender and you can break it apart easily with a wooden spoon, add the shredded potato and carrots. Bring to a boil, then continue to simmer on low for another 30-45 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
Add 1 cup of barley. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low. Cook for another half hour, or until barley is tender and the soup tastes...like home.
Slow cooker instructions:
In a large pan, brown the meat according to the instructions. Remove the browned meat to a large crockpot.
Add 2 cups of the water to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir up all the browned bits. Add this and the remaining 8 cups of water to the crock pot.
Add the beef base, celery, onions, and garlic to the slow cooker and stir.
Cook on low for about 6 hours. Add the potatoes and carrots and cook for another hour.
Add the barley and simmer for another hour or so, until it is tender.