Friday, December 5, 2008

A Warming Trend

There are few things better on a brisk, chilly day than a bowl of piping hot soup.  It's hearty and delicious and warms one from the inside out, which is why soups are my favorite culinary creations come wintertime!

Even better than soup is the mighty slow cooker, turning an evening dinner task into an all-day savory affair.  I just love popping the ingredients in in the morning, smelling the aroma throughout the day, and reaping the benefits come dinner, when I have little to prepare!  The slow cooker is really a mother's dream.

So here's a two-for-one for you--a Crock Pot creation and soup/stew du jour from our home to yours.  We've feasted on this soup for years now, serving it to guests in a bread bowl or hoarding it for ourselves and saving some for later.  Whatever you choose, you'll definitely enjoy!!

Rich Beef and Barley Soup
(adapted from an original recipe in The Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes, Better Homes and Gardens, 2002)
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 C. chopped carrots
1 C. chopped celery
1 med. onion, chopped
4 C. beef broth
14.5 oz. can cut tomatoes (Italian style works well)
1 C. spaghetti sauce
2/3 C. pearl barley
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt (or less)
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Brown ground beef, drain, and place in cooker.  Add rest of ingredients and stir.  Cover and cook on low for 9-10 hours or on high for 4-5.  Serve with warm bread and salad.  Makes 6 servings (usually with leftovers!)