Old-Fashioned Beef Barley Soup {& Growing Up 1970s}

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Growing up in the 70s in Michigan was a blast!

My sisters and I practically lived outside.

But on occasion, like when 12 feet of blowing snow leaned against the front door of our brick ranch home, we relied on board games like Clue and Trouble to entertain us for hours on end.

And then there were those days when Mom and Dad left us home for a bit and we had the house all to ourselves.

Those were the times when we would make the best stuff up.  

Like this one crazy game of hide-and-seek mixed with tag.

It made us famous in our neighborhood.

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My sisters and I cleverly named it Kitchen.

Our kitchen was small but had two entrances — one leading out to the living room and the other to the dining room. We could easily chase one another in a big circle through the kitchen, back out, around and back in. We just had to make sure the dining table chairs were pushed in real tight.

One of us covered our eyes and counted while the others tiptoed to a kitchen doorway to hide inside.

Then we held our breaths and waited…

…3, 2, 1 TIMES UP!, the seeker would yell.

We could hear a pin drop.

The seeker would sneak to an entrance — dash inside the kitchen — and tag anyone she could.

And the hiders would run out the other way screaming…

…Just like kids do when they’re being chased.

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It was fast paced.

We squealed and laughed, our faces turned pink and sweaty, and our long hair would fly in the air and get all stringy from good old hard play.

And after we counted and hid and chased for a while, we would poop out and all fall on the couch or collapse on the floor laughing and catching our breath.

Then Mom would come through the front door, usually with brown paper bags in her arms filled with groceries, and we would settle down really quick so she couldn’t tell we were running in the house.

We would help bring the rest of the bags in and peek inside each one for something to drink and Hostess Ding Dongs or Snack Pack chocolate pudding.

Because after all that running and playing we were hungry and thirsty…

…and cherry Kool-Aid sounded so good.

Mom would usually make pot roast in the pressure cooker for dinner that night and serve it with Heinz 57 sauce and a big bowl of mashed potatoes. Then the next day she would make soup with the leftover beef.

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Old-Fashioned Beef Barley Soup

  • Servings: 8-10 bowls
  • Print

Olive oil
1 lb Chuck Beef Shoulder Steak or similar, sliced thin and cut into small pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped or 1 Tbsp of celery flakes (optional)
1 clove of garlic, chopped or  1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp of onion powder
large pinch of kosher salt
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
1 – 16 oz bag of dried pearled barley
1 – 49 oz can of beef broth
beef base/bouillon (optional)

Drizzle olive oil across the bottom of large dutch oven or stock pot and saute onions, carrots, celery and beef on high for about 3 minutes, or until slightly browned. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder and continue sauteing for two minutes. Add 1 cup of broth, stir to mix then add package of pearled barley. Cover with lid and bring to boil, then turn heat to medium and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  After barley is cooked and tender, taste for flavor and add more garlic powder or small amount of beef base or bouillon if needed.


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