Grass-Fed Beef and Barley Soup
In March, my husband and I spend a long weekend on Martha’s Vineyard relaxing, biking, and visiting farms. Martha’s Vineyard is so much more enjoyable when the summer people aren’t there to crowd the streets and beaches. We had beautiful weather and got to spend some time at South Beach in Katama.
On our way to South Beach we passed by an inviting sign on Aero Avenue. Needless to say, we quickly turned around, drove down the dusty dirt road past a few Cape style homes to the end of the road and landed at the FARM Institute. We were warmly greeted by Chrissy Kinsman, the Marketing and Development Director, who was pruning fruit trees right outside the barn. Chrissy gave us a tour of The FARM Institute, we were introduced to the farmers and a few staff, and then we talked some about sustainable farming and the FARM’s mission. After a couple hours of chatting, Todd and I were so impressed by what they are doing that we left left with 60 pounds of grass fed-grass finished beef, pasture raised pork, lamb, whole chickens, and 5 dozen eggs. The wagon was fully loaded! Make sure your meat is fully pasture raised, not just “grass-fed”. Look for grass finished and/or pasture raised. When it’s corn or grain finished it loses all of the healthful qualities. For more information on the health benefits of pasture raised meat, click here.
The meat is amazing. If you have not had pasture raised meat, you need to find some in your area. Go to EatWild.com if you don’t know where to start looking. Not only is pastured beef delicious, it’s much leaner and loaded with more heart-healthy nutrients and vitamins. The meat from the FARM Institute has its own terroir flavor – kind of like a wine that takes on the flavor of where it’s grown. We can’t get enough of the FARM’s meat. So…when my husband reminded me of his yearly father-daughter fishing trip was coming up, I decided to go back to the Vineyard and visit the FARM Institute again – with a bigger cooler.
If you are interested in buying their meat when you’re on the Vineyard, you can pre-order online. They also do farmer’s market trips on the Cape. Call and check with them first to see where they’ll be. It’s so worth the trip. From their website: “All of our meat is raised here at The FARM Institute. All chicken and pork is pasture raised and all beef and lamb is 100% grass-fed. We use management intensive rotational grazing practices for all livestock ensuring the best life for our animals and our fields! We invite you to find out what most islanders already know–local food tastes better! All meat products are only available for pick up at The FARM Institute. When you place your order we will assemble your purchase and get it ready for you to pick it up. All of our meat products are frozen. Poultry is processed on site; beef, pork and lamb are all processed at a USDA approved slaughterhouse in Rhode Island.”
See you in the fall, FARM Institute!
Total Cooking Time: 2 – 2.5 hours with a pressure cooker**
Makes large stockpot of soup
- 2-3# grass fed, lean beef shank (about 4) or short ribs
- 6T EVOO
- 10C low-sodium beef stock (I like the unsalted, organic boxed ones)
- 10 garlic cloves, 6 cut in half, 4 minced
- 1C pearl barley
- 1C full-bodied red wine
- 1C chopped carrots (about 4-5 carrots)
- 1C chopped onion (about 2 medium)
- 1 box (26.5oz) of Pomi chopped tomatoes
- 1T sea salt
- 1T fresh, coarse ground pepper
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 10 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
In a large pressure cooker on medium-high heat, heat the EVOO and brown the beef on both sides. Add the wine to deglaze the pan, but watch out for a steam burn! Add enough of the beef stock to cover the meat, about 6 cups. Loosen the meat from the bottom of the pan if it’s stuck and try to scrape up any tasty bits of meat. Add the 6 halved garlic cloves, bay leaves, the tiny leaves from 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, the sea salt, and coarse ground pepper. Close and lock the lid, bring up to full pressure (look for the two white rings that pop up), then turn down the heat to simmer or low to maintain the pressure. Pressure cook for 1.5 hours. During this time the meat will fall off the bone and the healthy marrow will dissolve into the broth.
After 1.5 hours, shut the heat off, let the pressure come down on it’s own, open the cover of the pressure cooker, and let it rest for a few minutes. Strain the meat and stock over a large stockpot, letting the aromatic broth drain through, but catching the meat and bones in the sieve. Set meat and bones aside to cool.
Add the rest of the boxed beef stock, the box of Pomi chopped tomatoes, the leaves of thyme from the remaining thyme stems, 4 minced garlic cloves, and the barley. Bring to a boil and turn to simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. This is the time to pick through the meat that you set aside.
After 30 minutes, add the carrots, onions, and meat. Simmer for another 30-45 minutes or until the barley is done cooking. I like the barley al-denté, but you may like it softer.
Adjust seasonings to your taste.
Serve with warm rolls, fresh butter, and a California Cabernet Sauvignon.
**I use a Fissler Blue Point Pressure Cooker, 8.5quart.
Note: You can use a slow cooker, but plan on a full day of slow-cooking, 6-8 hours, after you brown the beef in a skillet.
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