Tuesday we had our first snowfall! Cori (my 4 y/o) let us all know bright and early (by waking everyone up) that it had snowed "even though it wasn't Christmas yet!" She says the cutest and funniest stuff all the time. I really should write more of it down. Anyways, seeing as how these next couple of days are going to be the coldest so far I decided it would be a great day to pull out the slow cooker. I'm in desperate need of a trip to the grocery store, but thankfully we had a roast on Sunday and I had enough leftovers to make some beef & barley soup. It came out delicious and my house smelled amazing all day! And better yet, it is kid approved. My kids both said they didn't like beef and barley soup (they like to change their mind a lot about liking or not liking foods), but once they tried it (again) they both liked it.
Slow Cooker Beef & Barley Soup
1 lb leftover roast (I usually use a bottom round roast, I'm sure other cuts are fine too)*
6 cups of water
2 1/2 Tbs. Low Sodium Better than Bouillon
1 Tbs. Butter (I used Smart Balance, I'm sure you could use Olive Oil too)
1 1/2 C Carrots
1/2 C Barley
2 Small Potatoes
1 medium sized onion
2 tsp. Italian Seasoning*
1Tbs. Tomato Paste*
1 Cup of Green Beens*
1 Cup of mushrooms*
*I didn't measure any of these items so I'm guestimating on the amount.
This is really an easy recipe to make. Just chop the meat & veggies. Boil the water and then add the Better Than Bouillon until dissolved. Then add everything to the slow cooker except the onions, butter, Italian Seasoning, green beans, and mushrooms. Sauté the onion in the butter and once its softened add the Italian seasoning and mix it well, then add that to the slow cooker. I waited until about an hour or so before we were planning to eat to add the mushrooms and green beans (we don't like mushy green beans around here). I cooked on high for a few hours and then turned it down to low for a total of about 5 hours. I am sure you could also cook it on low for 6-8 or high for 4 or so.
This is a pretty forgiving recipe and I think you could change the recipe around a bit to fit your tastes and it would still come out tasty. If I would have had red wine on hand I probably would have thrown in some of that too. Guess next time I'm thinking of making this soup I'll try to refrain from drinking all the vino first..
I also made a loaf of fresh whole wheat bread in the bread maker to go along with the soup. Yum!
Do you use your slow cooker a lot in the winter? What is your favorite meal to make in there?