If you rifled through the Campbell's soup labels I collected as a kid, you'd notice a heavy concentration of Beef and Barley Stew labels. It was my favorite soup. By far. Now, though, I've moved so far away from processed foods that it (sadly) just tastes salty and gummy to me. I've been meaning to concoct a homemade replacement for years, but somehow have never gotten around to it. Early in the new year, though, I had a pot of beef stock left over from the holidays, some stew meat and carrots from my CSA, and an expanding enthusiasm for kohlrabi. It was time. If you can't find kohlrabi, substitute potatoes, or another root vegetable like turnips or rutabaga.
1-1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon yellow Madras curry powder
6 cups beef broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup pearled barley
1 cup (1/2-inch diced) carrots
1-1/2 cups (1/2-inch diced) kohlrabi
Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat half the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and sear the beef well on all sides, 3-4 minutes total. Remove to a bowl or plate.
Heat the remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons oil in the pot and add the onion. Saute 6-8 minutes, until beginning to brown. Stir in the wine and curry powder, and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan with a stiff spatula.
Pour beef broth and Worcestershire sauce into the pot, and bring to a boil. Add the beef back to the pot with the barley. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add the carrots and kohlrabi, stir to mix, cover again and simmer another 30 minutes, until vegetables, meat and barley are tender.