Beef barley soup that tastes like... Progresso?
I admit it. I eat canned soup. [Hangs head in shame.]
I really, really enjoy Progresso's Beef Barley soup (http://progresso.com/Products/Soup/Ri...), but like most canned soups, it has a TON of sodium in it. Unfortunately, Progresso doesn't make a reduced-sodium version of this soup, so I'm stuck with stressing out my kidneys every time I eat it.
Ideally, I'd like to just make my own and be able to eat as much soup as I want, especially when it's freezing cold/raining out. However, the sheer number of recipes I've found is overwhelming, and I'm not sure how to narrow them down.
The one thing that I particularly like about this soup is that the broth is fairly thick and has a black-peppery kick to it.
Any suggestions? Thanks!
P.S. For reference, here's the ingredient list for my evil, sodium-laden Progresso soup:
Beef Broth, Carrots, Cooked Beef, Green Beans, Tomatoes, Barley. Contains less than 2% of: Corn, Celery, Modified Food Starch, Water, Sugar, Salt, Soy Protein (hydrolyzed), Wheat Flour Bleached, Potassium Chloride, Yeast Extract, Toasted Onion Powder, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Natural Flavor, Spice, Soybean Oil, Dried Parsley, Citric Acid, Sodium Phosphate, Beef Fat, Beef Extract, Calcium Chloride, Paprika.
Have never tasted the Progresso soup, but I make the following Beef Mushroom Barley soup several times during the winter. It is very hearty and can be used for lunch or dinner with the addition of a salad or some hearty bread.
If you make it, be sure to NOT keep it too long in fridge (freezing is fine) as barley will absorb all the liquid if it stands around too long. I make it in a 16 qt stock pot, it makes quite a bit. I make my own beef broth, it's worth it to me to know the ingredients.
3 lb. beef shank, short ribs with bones, or cut up chuck and bones
2 large onions, put through food processor
3-4 large carrots, put through food processor
3-4 celery ribs, put through food processor
1 large can diced tomatoes (28 oz)
1 oz. dried chopped mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 min,
16 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 cup pearl barley
2 cups frozen corn, optional
2 T salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper
Preheat oven to 450F. In one layer, put meat and bones on cookie sheet and roast for 45 min, turning a couple of time. Put beef, onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes in 16 qt. stockpot. Add 8 qt. cold water, salt & pepper, beef base and bring to boil. Lower heat to simmer, skim any scum. Stir in dried mushrooms along with strained water, and sliced raw mushrooms. Simmer 2-3 hours till meat is done and soup is flavorful. Add barley, stir well, simmer another 45-60 min till barley is cooked. If using frozen corn, add now. Either serve soup right away or freeze. Don't leave too long in fridge, as barley will expand and broth will be gone.
I can't count how many times I've recommended this, online and printed out for folks, an easy beef-barley with reasonably good nutritional values from U of Alaska/Fairbanks:
I make my beef-barley (and lamb-barley, and goat-barley) in the crockpot (will do fine also in stovetop stewpot in your usual timeframe). I do use Better than Bouillon beef low-sodium sometimes to enhance if needed.
Beef broth is time-consuming and expensive to make from scratch because beef imparts less flavor per pound of bones/meat to stock than chicken does. I suggest you try starting with Superior Touch Better than Bouillon's reduced sodium version of their beef base. You'll have to do the math to compare the amount of sodium per serving with Progresso's. Then you can just cook your barley and vegetables in the reconstituted beef broth, and either add cubes of raw beef toward the end, or ask for a roast beef end at the deli counter, and dice that up, adding it to the finished soup. The barley will thicken the broth somewhat. This will happen once the soup is cooled, chilled, then reheated. If it's not thick enough then, you can always reheat the entire batch and add a slurry of broth and flour, summering until thickened. Making your own it a good idea. Not only less salt, but you can add more vegetables, or vary the ones you use.
If you are determined to use homemade stock but don't want to make beef stock, you might like chicken barley soup if you try it. Or, mix BTB base into diluted homemade chicken stock. There are a number of soup recipes, including versions of French onion soup, that combine chicken and beef broths. The finished soups taste meaty rather than chickeny.
You will never be able to duplicate the flavor without all that salt. I say if you love it cut back on the salt in other places and enjoy your guilty pleasure!
All that said I love Ina's recipe and its often in my winter rotation. I can't imagine it has that much less sodium though. I buy homemade beef stock from a catering company instead of canned but still I am sure it loaded with salt. You could probably used low sodium broth to help cut back