Bison and Barley Soup

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This homey soup will keep away the chill during the cold winter months.


Can be made a couple of days ahead. Soup always tastes better after the flavors have been allowed to marry.

Freeze ½ of this batch and use later when time is catching up to you. Use within 6-9 months of freezing.

Recommended Garnishes: Herb Croutons

Serving Size: 11.7 ounces

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Total Cooking Time: 45 minutes


  • 1 Pound ground bison
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 2 stalks celery, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • One 10-ounce can of full tomatoes in juice
  • 2 Tablespoons beef bouillon (Better than Bouillon brand)
  • 1 medium pearled barley
  • 2 quarts water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


Nutritional research indicates that grass-fed bison is lower in fat and higher in essential vitamins and nutrients than many other meats, including grass-fed beef. Although those are excellent reasons for adding bison to your diet, the main reason we enjoy it is that it tastes great!

You can substitute bison for beef in any of your favorite recipes, or try some of the recipes here.

But remember that because bison is such a lean meat, it's easy to overcook. Slow and low are words to live by: cook bison slowly over low heat and you'll have great-tasting, tender bison.

Quick Bison & Barley Soup

Quick-cooking barley and bison sirloin help get soup on the table quickly. Add a serving of crusty bread, and you'll have a meal that's mmm good!

Bison Sirloin Tip Roast

Slow cook this cut-with-a-spoon bison sirloin tip roast with vegetables in a crock pot while you're at work, and come home to a complete meal.

Barley Hoppin' John

I made this family favorite originally as a vegetarian side dish, but cooking it in bison broth and adding bison meat makes a fantastic main dish!

A rich and versatile broth you can use in soups, brothy pastas, or beans in need of a boost.

Recipes you want to make. Cooking advice that works. Restaurant recommendations you trust.

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Steps to Make It

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, you must brown the oxtails on all sides. There should be enough natural fat, so additional oil is unnecessary. Remove oxtails and discard any rendered fat in the pan.

Add water and oxtails to the pan. Bring to a boil, skimming off any frothy foam that comes to the surface.

Add barley, bay leaf, peppercorns, garlic, celery, onion, and beef base. Bring back to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.

Add carrots and tomatoes, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until carrots, barley, and meat are tender.

  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cored and chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed
  • 1 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup quick-cooking barley
  • 1 (5 ounce) package baby spinach (6 cups)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel, garlic, and basil cook, stirring frequently, until tender and just beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

Mash 1/2 cup of the beans. Stir the mashed and whole beans, tomatoes, broth and barley into the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in cheese and pepper.

To make ahead: Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months.

32 Vegetable Soup Recipes for Chilly Weather

Have trouble getting your required daily dose of vegetables? These soups pack in the veggies&mdashand plenty of flavor, too.

This easy and flavorful tomato soup is perfect for dunking flatbreads and crackers.

Swirled with coconut milk and topped with toasted squash seeds, this colorful soup will keep you warm even on the coldest of nights.

This soup is full of vitamin A, which is great for eye health. And it's delicious too!

This hearty soup recipe is very versatile feel free to load up with additional root veggies, or if you don't care for ham hocks, simply top the soup with crumbled bacon once it's done.

This slow-cooker supper is well worth the wait.

Ginger helps fight inflammation such as arthritis, muscle soreness and migraines.

This savory soup's exotic mix of flavors will liven up any fall meal.

This comforting classic never loses its luster, especially when it's spun into a soup, with chicken thighs, green beans, leek, carrots, celery and parsnip in a thyme-infused chicken broth, served with puff pastry rectangles.

This is a hearty and healthy chicken and orzo soup, flavored with lots of bright lemon, will satisfy you any night of the week.

This sweet and hearty vegetarian soup is supremely satisfying on a chilly fall day.

Revive this classic fall soup sure to become a new family favorite. With hearty chunks of beef and perfectly cooked vegetables, it easily serves as a full meal.

This hearty and flavorful soup, filled with squash, beans, and chickpeas, was made for warming up chilly fall evenings.

Quinoa cooks fast, has a delicious nutty flavor and is an excellent vegetarian source of protein.

This is a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs kind of soup that will warm you right up on a chilly day. Make it ahead and freeze it in individual portions you always have something tasty and filling on hand.

Try this recipe for a lighter version of traditional minestrone soup.

Use store-bought rotisserie chicken instead of cooking your own to make chicken soup easy. Fresh veggies like kale and winter squash and fiber-packed beans ensure this soup is loaded with health-boosting nutrients.

Bored with your go-to vegetable soup recipe? Try this Moroccan version and switch things up! Cinnamon sticks and honey give this recipe a sweet and unexpected touch.

For extra flavor, sprinkle soup with cooked, crumbled bacon before serving.

Roasting the broccoli brings out the full flavor of this classic and comforting soup. Top it off with a handful of shredded Cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream for a flavorful kick.

Barley is amazingly absorbent, so be sure to adjust the amount of liquid you use if you're setting your slow cooker to high for this recipe. It also freezes well: For this soup, prepare without the greens, and then add them at the end when re-heating.

A rich blend of extra-sharp Cheddar, potatoes and broccoli, this classic soup will see you through fall and winter. Though they are a little more work, the homemade croutons are worth it&mdashthey add an irresistible crunch.

This warming soup goes from stove to table in just 35 minutes, and is loaded with heart-healthy kale, smoked turkey sausage, onion, garlic and Yukon Gold potatoes in chicken broth.

Doubting vegetables can be delicious? Try this filling soup, with cannellini beans and loads of veggies&mdashbutternut squash, fennel, zucchini, broccoli rabe, onion, tomatoes and peas&mdashthat's spiced with Italian seasoning.

Potato soups are often full of cream and other fatty ingredients, but this chicken broth&ndashbased version is a lighter, healthier version of the comforting classic.

Bison-Black Barley Stew, With Fried Chicken Mushrooms

When I brought my first fried chicken mushrooms home from the coop, after the basic “fry in pan with butter until brown and add salt” method, this is what I made, It’s simple, and a good example of my style of cooking: interesting, high quality ingredients, cooked with classical technique.

I remembered my foraging buddy Dan mentioning that Wild Man Steve Brill recommended cooking fried chicken mushrooms in soup. After digesting Steve Brill’s notes about them online , and being sightly unimpressed with how they came out sauteed, I thought I’d give the mushrooms a shot in a wet method, like a stew or soup.

I made a fun variation on the ol’ beef ‘n’ barley using bison and black barley-a nice, stick-to-your-ribs-in-cold-weather kinda dish. The fried chicken mushrooms thickened the soup very subtly, and it was great. If I have some on my hands any time soon, I’ll be cooking them in the same way.

As far as the thickening quality goes, honey mushrooms are related to fried chicken mushrooms, and I knew from experience that honeys have a natural thickening property, something I noticed after I pickled a bunch en masse a couple years back. They gave off a sort of mucilage that was exacerbated by the low amount of liquid involved in pickling via mason jar, when I opened the jars it was like they were covered in snot.

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Once I read that Steve Brill said the Lyophyllum/fried chicken mushrooms would thicken a soup, I knew they were possessing the same effect I had experienced before with the honeys, which I had thought of as kind of a draw back to cooking with Armillaria/honey mushroom species. I hadn’t ever thought of using the property to thicken a soup though, so props to Steve Brill.


While I believe most classic recipes are excellent in their natural state, opportunities sometimes become available without altering the flavor at all. When it comes to a soup like this that only uses root vegetables, then using my school of thought, I believe it would be ok to add in a few more of these tubular veggies.

Here are a few more ingredients you could add to your soup, including the few I added:

  • Parsnip
  • Turnip
  • Potatoes
  • Celeriac
  • Rutabaga
  • Daikon
  • Taro


Oxtail Stock

Step 1

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Season oxtails with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, cook until browned on all sides, adding 1 Tbsp. oil between batches, 10–15 minutes per batch transfer to a plate.

Step 2

Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to same pot. Add shallots, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Add garlic cook, stirring, just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add wine cook, scraping up browned bits, until reduced by half, 5–8 minutes. Add parsley, thyme, and 4 cups water return oxtails to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat is fork-tender, 3–3½ hours.

Step 3

Using a slotted spoon, transfer oxtails to a plate. Let cool slightly shred meat, discarding bones. Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl or measuring cup (discard solids). Skim fat from stock add water if needed to measure 4 cups.

Step 4

Do Ahead: Oxtail stock and meat can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool. Cover separately chill. Rewarm before using.

Step 5

Cook cipolline onions in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, 5–8 minutes. Drain and let cool. Trim root ends peel and set aside.

Step 6

Heat butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add red onions and cook, stirring occasionally, adding water by tablespoonfuls if pot becomes dry, until soft and deep brown, 45–60 minutes.

Step 7

Remove from heat add bourbon and reserved cipolline onions. Return to heat and cook, scraping up browned bits, until bourbon is evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add chicken broth, barley, and reserved oxtail stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until barley is tender, 45–60 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Step 8

Do Ahead: Soup can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool slightly chill until cold. Cover and keep chilled. Reheat before continuing.

Step 9

Add reserved oxtail meat to soup. Thin soup with water, if needed. Divide soup among bowls and serve with cornbread alongside.

Vegetable Barley Soup

Posted By Savita

Hearty, and delicious Barley Soup loaded with veggies and flavorful broth, all cooked in one Instant Pot for a comforting chili night family dinner. This soup is everything you desire from a good vegetarian soup. It is healthy, hearty, filling and so flavorful that no one misses meat. The rich tomato broth is to-die for! Leftovers are perfect to re-heat. Must try!

In winters, such loaded soups are staple in our home. Specially when whole family wants a quick and hearty dinner. This is the best thing I like about my Instant Pot. It can help you make even a dry-grain or dry-legume soup quick and without much effort. No perching on stove or continuous stirring the soup. Simply add to pot, set timer and enjoy your favorite TV Show while soup is getting ready.

This sounds easy! Isn't it? So, let's make some Barley Soup for dinner tonight!

Oh, don't feel dishearten if you don't own an Instant Pot. (Even though I highly recommend it.) I'm including instructions to cook Barley Soup on stove top. High Five!


If you aren’t familiar with vegetable barley soup, it’s Costco's top seller vegetarian soup which is hearty with perfectly cooked barley, crunch celery, corn, carrots and a delicious tomato broth. Does it get any better? We tried this soup few years ago and fell in love. Even my meat-lover husband asked me to buy one more batch from Costco.

This inspired me to make this soup at home. Soup turned out so well that it became regular in our menu. My little secret is Italian-style broth with herbs, stewed tomatoes, and red wine vinegar. These three ingredients make broth extra special. You can never go wrong with a soup that has flavorful broth. (I'm sure you agree.)

Last week, I specially made it again to share recipe with you.


The main ingredients of Vegetable Barley Soup are:

1) barley,
2) butternut,
3) vegetables,
4) onion,
5) garlic,
6) tomatoes,
7) seasonings and herbs. This combo of ingredients yield delicious and hearty barley soup. You will notice, there are no thickeners, no artificial color or flavor. Instead of cooking barley separately.. I cook it with soup. This simple hack makes soup naturally full-body without any flour-roux or starch addition.


Butternut tastes delicious in this soup. I use frozen diced squash for quick fix. However, if you have had enough butternut squash for the season, swap squash with sweet potato or potato. In this case, make sure to cook soup in step-3 until potatoes are tender to liking. (Sweet Potatoes take less time to cook than potatoes. Frozen squash/potato will cook faster than fresh.) In short, adjust cooking time in step-3.


I love crunchy vegetables in this soup. Corn kernels, carrot, celery are favorite trio as base vegetables. Butternut squash, greens such as spinach or kale further make this soup nutritious.

You can also add following veggies and legumes:

1. Chickpeas. If using fresh chickpeas, soak overnight and add to soup with barley. For canned, rinse and add in Step-3.
2. French Lentils
3. Vegetables such as - Turnip, Broccoli, Cabbage, Swiss Chard, Asparagus.
4. White Beans or Red Beans
5. Diced Tofu (add just before serving)

That said, by all means, Vegetable Barley Soup does not have to be "vegetarian" but loaded with veggies. You can also swap vegetable stock with low-sodium chicken stock and/or add some chicken breast or shrimp for hearty serving of protein.

TIP: Instant Pot can make vegetables mushy. To keep vegetables crunchy, cook a portion of veggies with soup, add remaining small diced veggies later. Cover the pot and leave aside for 5-6 minutes. Diced veggies will cook just right in hot broth and give crunchy bite to the soup.

Spinach is my personal favorite but kale gives this soup hearty and delicious bite. When using kale, I like to add handful of baby kale just at the end of soup. It wilts in hot broth and has perfect bite. When using dino kale, remove the rib-lets and cut into small ribbons. This makes sure kale does not taste raw or too-chewy.


To make barley soup on Stove Stop in a dutch oven (or heavy-bottom pan) Follow steps as-is up-to step-1 in Recipe Card but use 1 cup extra liquid. Bring to boil on high heat, then simmer covered until Barley is tender. Add remaining ingredients as shown in Step-3 and continue cooking. Serve as suggested.

TIP: Look for cooking/boiling time for Barley on barley package. Cook soup 10 minutes longer on low-medium heat. Add more stock if soup appears to thicken too much towards end of cooking.


Like I mentioned, Instant Pot is one of the best way to make Barley Soup. It is quick, easy and needs almost negligible standing-time in kitchen. Only 22 minutes of cooking at High Pressure and soup is ready. Once soup is cooked, open the lid and add a portion of veggies and let Instant Pot stand for 6 minutes. (lid locked, IP off) This is one the best way to have not-mushy al-dente veggies in soup.


It stays good in refrigerator up-to 4 days without freezing. But honestly, if I have it in refrigerator, we end-up repeating it for dinner until it lasts. Make sure to store in seal-able, air-tight containers.

Also, this soup is perfect to make-ahead and freeze. For best result, freeze in small portions. This make thaw and reheat easier.

Note: Barley tends to drink-up liquid as it sits in cooked soup broth. If soup gets too thick, add some more vegetable stock while re-heating. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and lemon juice.



This Barley Soup is vegetarian, hearty, loaded with flavor, and great to make with variety of vegetables. Soup is also vegan, filling and healthy. I recommend trying some for dinner this weekend.