What you need: 1 pagkage of lean ground beef - 500 gr; 1 meduim onion, chopped; 2-3 cloves garlic - minced (or a TBS of minced garlic from a jar); 3 carrots, peeled and sliced; 1/4 cup pot barley; 2 ribs celery - sliced; 4 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized peices; 1 large can of diced tomatoes; 1-2 tbs fresh herbs* of your choice, (parsley, thyme, bay leaf, cilantro, chervil are some fairly mild flavoured options. You don't want anything too strong). 1,or more, cups of any other vegetables you like, chopped (ie: green pepper, squash, mushrooms, zuchinni, frozen or canned corn, etc. You can add any or all according to your taste.) Salt and pepper to taste.
* if using dried herbs, cut the amount to 1/4 of fresh.
About 2 litres of liquid -- 8 cups water and 3 cubes (or packet)s of beef boullion, or 2 1 -litre tetra boxes of beef broth, or about 8 cups of homemade beef stock.
What you do: brown the beef in a large skillet. ( I actually sometimes make tiny hamburger patties, and brown those instead - just make as if you were doing hamburgers, only make 1/2 inch patties). Remove with a slotted spoon, and put into a stock pot or a slow cooker. Add chopped celery, onion and garlic to dripping in skillet and cook until just softened but not really browned. Add to soup pot. Add about 2 cups of water to the skillet. Stir well to pick up all the pan drippings. Add to soup pot along with your liquid of choice. Add barley and carrots. Add squash if using a hard variety. Bring up to a boil and reduce heat until barely simmering. Let cook for 30 minutes, then add potatoes, and any other vegetables. Cook for about an hour. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomatoes, and herbs, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Serve.
If using a slow cooker, let cook on high for 2 or 3 hours before adding potatoes and other vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomatoes, and herbs about an hour before serving time.
Can be served with biscuits, corn bread or crackers.
As always, enjoy!