Crock Pot Beef and Barley Soup

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I love this beef and barley soup! It is so yummy! It is beefy and rich and wonderful. You know, I think I like this soup better than beef stew, which it reminds me of, because I love the barley and the flavor from the mushrooms. I myself love mushrooms, but I have a family full of mushroom haters and they all loved this soup anyway. The mushrooms cook down and just add a great depth of beefy flavor to the soup. The mushroom haters in your family won't even know they're in there. I got this recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe and changed it just slightly. I served it with my 60 Minute French Bread and it was a delicious dinner for a cold February night.

Crock Pot Beef and Barley Soup

2 tablespoons oil
2 lbs beef stew meat, or a chuck roast cubed
salt and pepper
4 medium carrots, chopped
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, wiped clean and finely diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1, 14 oz can low sodium chicken broth
4 cups low sodium beef broth
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2/3 cup pearled barley (not quick cooking)

In a large skillet heat oil until hot. Add beef and season with salt and pepper, cooking for 1-2 minutes or until browned. Scoop meat, using a slotted spoon, into the slow cooker, leaving as much liquid as possible in the skillet. Add the carrots, onions, and mushrooms to the skillet with the liquid in it. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until vegetables start to soften. Add garlic and cook another minute. Stir in the tomato paste and thyme and cook for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Pour this mixture into the slow cooker. Add beef broth, soy sauce, and barley. Stir well. Cover and cook on low for 5 1/2 - 6 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste, if needed before serving.

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