Beef Barley Soup a.k.a. “Butt Noodle Soup”


Butt noodles.  When my kids were little they called barley — butt noodles.  Come on, think about it.  Don’t they look like little tiny tushes?  Anyway, it’s one of my favorite soups.  Here’s my advice on making a heavenly pot of deliciousness.

Beef Barley Soup


8 quarts of beef broth

2 lbs. beef cubes

3-4 carrots cut into small pieces

1-2 onions – chopped

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 to 1 cup red wine

1 can diced tomatoes

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. grains of paradise (optional)*

1 bay leaf

1 whole clove of garlic

1 tsp. dried thyme


  1.  Prepare broth.  I usually use a soup bone but you can use a can of beef brother just as easily.
    1. if using bone:  in a large stock pot place water, the soup bone, a clove of garlic, bay leaf and thyme.  Bring the water to a boil and reduce to simmer.  Simmer for two hours with the lid on.  At the end of two hours you can add a little  beef flavoring  if the stock seems to “thin” tasting.
    2. If using stock from can:  Use two large cans/cartons of beef broth, add enough water to equal 8 cups.  Add a clove of garlic, bay leaf and thyme and 1 tsp. of beef flavoring and simmer  for about an hour.
  2. While broth is simmering prepare the beef cubes.  Salt and pepper beef. In a large frying pan heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.  Place the beef cubes (leave them large so they don’t dry out while cooking) in the pan and brown.  Do not crowd beef.  Do it in several batches if you need to. (Crowding does allow the meat to brown, it steams it and leaves an ugly grayish color)  See pictures above. As meat browns remove from pan and place on a large plate.
  3. Next add a little more olive oil if needed and brown the onion and carrots.  About 2 minutes or so to caramelize and give it that nice roasted flavor.  Remove from pan into a bowl and let sit until ready for them.
  4. Keep the heat on and add the wine to deglaze the pan.  Make sure to scrap up the goodies from the bottom of the pan.  Pour wine into the stock pot.  Remove bone and cut any meat off and put back into pot.  I then cut the browned meat into small bite-size pieces and add to the pot.  Make sure you add all those flavorful juices. Add diced tomatoes.  Now, taste and add salt and pepper if needed.  If you have it and if you like it, add the grains of paradise.  Simmer for about an hour.
  5. Now add vegetables and 1 cup barley and simmer for an hour (The reason for delaying the vegetables until now is so they don’t overcook and get all mushy.)
  6. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

*Grains of Paradise – commonly referred to as alligator pepper or melegueta pepper.  They are grown in Africa and provide a warm, spicy bite with slightly bitter overtones.  Available at — buy in a grinder (like salt).  under $5.

This takes a little more time then opening up a can and heating it up but, definitely worth it.