Chilly, misty fall days generally make me crave a warm bowl of stew. Today was that kind of day. Initially, I set out to make “Beef Barley Soup with Spinach” from the classic Beef it’s What’s for Dinner website, but my shopping trip was a bit unsuccessful so I was forced to adapt the recipe just a bit. In the end, my creation became “Beef & Farro Stew with Spinach.”
Let’s start with the beef, the key player in this game. I started with 1 1/2 pounds of a small beef shoulder roast. I’ve found that it is cheaper to buy a small roast and cut it into cubes rather than just buying beef stew meat.
A key to some super tasty beef cubes is to properly brown each cube before adding it into the stew. Don’t overcrowd the stockpot when you are browning the cubes and give the pan a nice coat of olive oil to prevent the cubes from sticking to the bottom. Once each cube of beef has been nicely browned, go ahead and add the liquids for the stew.
For this stew I added 5 cups of water and one 16 oz. can of cream of mushroom soup. I also added one diced small onion. The original recipe “Beef Barley Soup with Spinach” called for a package of dry onion mushroom soup mix, however, the grocery store I went to didn’t stock that soup mix. I opted for cream of mushroom soup and a diced onion instead.
The original recipe also called for a half cup of medium pearled barley. Well, I couldn’t seem to find that at the store either! I ended up bringing some farro home instead. Farro is a good substitute for barley in recipes however it is a different species of grain. It is a classic grain of the Tuscany region in Italy. (I just learned that today!) Make sure you give the farro a good rinse before adding it to the soup!
I let my beef and the liquids boil for a solid hour before adding in the farro. The farro only took about 30 minutes to soften. I also added 1 teaspoon of dried Thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper. Add about 3 handfuls of fresh baby spinach about 3 minutes before you are ready to serve the stew, just enough to wilt the spinach but not bleach out the color. Reduce the heat when you add the spinach.
Well hello my new little creation! Beef & Farro Stew with Spinach! A bit of a twist on the recipe I set out to make originally, but I’m sure just as yummy!
Beef & Farro Stew with Spinach—————————-
1 1/2 pound of cubed beef shoulder roast
5 cups water
1 can (16 oz) cream of mushroom soup
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup pre-washed semi-pearled farro (Emmer)
3 handfuls (or 3 cups) loosely packed fresh baby spinach
Total Recipe Time: 2 hours, serves 6-8