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Barley is a wonderfully versatile cereal grain with a rich nut-like flavor and an appealing chewy, pasta-like consistency. Its appearance resembles wheat berries, although it is slightly lighter in color. Sprouted barley is naturally high in maltose, a sugar that serves as the basis for malt syrup sweetener. When fermented, barley is used as an ingredient in beer and other alcoholic beverages.
Barley originated in Ethiopia and Southeast Asia, where it has been cultivated for more than 10,000 years. Barley was used by ancient civilizations as a food for humans and animals, as well as to make alcoholic beverages; the first known recipe for barley wine dates back to 2800 BC in Babylonia. In addition, since ancient times, barley water has been used for various medicinal purposes.
When the weather’s cold, a big pot of soup simmering on the stove warms the heart as well as the hearth. Adding some whole grain barley to the pot will improve your health along with the flavor of whatever soup or stew you’re cooking. In addition to its robust flavor, barley’s claim to nutritional fame is based on its being a very good source of molybdenum, manganese, dietary fiber, and selenium, and a good source of copper, vitamin B1, chromium, phosphorus, magnesium, and niacin.
Beef Barley Soup should be deeply beefy, loaded with chunks of tender meat, plump grains of barley, and aromatic vegetables. The secret to those results is to make it much like a beef stew, choosing the right cut of beef, handling it the right way, and adding more complex layers of flavor.
“They touched earth and grain grew.”
~ Margaret Abigail Walker