It started with an article in the charter issue of Milk Street, Christopher Kimball’s new magazine. In it, there was a recipe for a delicious looking lamb stew and the recipe claimed that there was no need to sear the meat in advance.
From the magazine: “Searing meat for stew is messy and fussy—and, it turns out, entirely unnecessary. There is a time and place for the Maillard reaction (the high-heat browning of meat), but stew isn’t it.”
I already had this slow cooker vegetable beef barley soup on our week’s menu. So I decided to test the theory.
I’ve made this soup dozens of times and had always browned the meat ahead of time. This time I didn’t and, guess what? I couldn’t tell the difference in taste or texture. The only differences were that it took 10 minutes of prep instead of 30 and I didn’t have a dirty pan or an oil splattered stovetop to clean.
Vegetable Beef Barley Soup is a long time favorite of mine with its rich broth, melt-in-your-mouth beef, tender barley and ample vegetables – especially mushrooms. And with this method, preparing it is almost effortless.
No meat searing required!! Homemade Slow Cooker Vegetable Beef Barley Soup is perfect winter comfort food and just 10 minutes of prep!
- 2 pounds stew beef cut into 1-inch chunks
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 10 cups slow cooker beef bone broth or commercial beef stock or broth
- 3 ribs celery chopped
- 1 large onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 pound potatoes
- 3 carrots chopped, and peeled if you prefer
- 1 pound mushrooms sliced
- 1 cup pearl barley
Add raw stew beef to slow cooker and season generously with salt and pepper. Add stock, celery, onion and garlic. Stir and cook on high for 4 hours.
Dice potatoes (cutting them up just before you add them will keep them from discoloring). Add potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and pearl barley and cook on high for 2 more hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.