Eating barley makes your colon happy

December 23, 2014

The job of dietary fiber is to help clean out your colon. I know it’s a crappy subject in a food column, but it is an important factor in good health.

Fiber helps with regular bowel movements, helps prevent hemorrhoids and diverticulitis, lowers cholesterol, controls blood sugar, and makes you feel full more quickly so you’re less likely to overeat.

Barley is one of the highest sources of dietary fiber at 13.6 grams per cup. It is a versatile grain with a rich, nut-like flavor and a chewy, pasta-like consistency.

My all-time favorite soup is vegetable beef barley. Since my grocer discontinued it from their hot soup bar, my lunches just haven’t been the same.

But after much trial and error, I think I’ve finally mastered the recipe. I used about a 1½ pound sirloin tip roast. I’m all for meals doing double-duty, so make a big pot roast and save some of the meat for soup.

I feel a roast comes out much more tender in the crockpot, but because I forgot to get my crockpot going early, I cooked mine in the oven, which worked fine too.

Cook times will vary depending on the cut and weight of the beef. I cooked mine on a rack in a shallow baking dish. Please do check cook times for your cut of meat. I wanted it done medium, so the interior temp needed to be about 160 degrees. has a great chart for cook times depending on your cut of meat:

For best results, marinate the meat to really get it flavorful and tender. Since I didn’t plan ahead, I just rubbed Herbs de Provence on all four sides and cooked it uncovered at 425 degrees for about an hour.  

Herbs de Provence is a lovely blend of dry herbs, including garlic, fennel, thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, basil, sea salt, lemon peel, parsley, and lavender. You can also substitute a blend of any of the above spices. Add a good teaspoon of each, blend well, and store in an airtight container to keep some on-hand.

Vegetable Beef Barley Soup



-1 to 2 T. olive oil
-1 c. chopped onion
-1 c. chopped celery
-1 c. chopped carrots
-1 to 2 cloves minced garlic
-1 T. tomato paste
-1 fresh jalapeño, minced
-½ sweet red bell pepper, minced
2 c. slivered and cooked green beans
-1½ quarts low-sodium beef broth
-1 t. Better than Bouillon beef soup base
-3 t. corn meal
-1 to 2 t. Herbs de Provence seasoning blend
-Salt and pepper to taste
-1 c. barley
-1 lb. cooked beef roast


In a large soup pot, cook olive oil, onion, carrots, and celery for 10 minutes or more on low heat to soften, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, bell pepper, and jalapeño. Let it cook for another five minutes or so.

Create a well in the center and add the tomato paste. Simmer until you start to smell the tomatoes and stir. Add broth and any remaining vegetables. Stir. Turn the heat up to medium. Add the bouillon and herbs and stir.

Let that simmer for a good 20 minutes. Then add the corn meal. This will thicken your soup. If you prefer a thinner, more brothy soup, eliminate the corn meal.  

If the meat is done, you can add it now, but if it still has a ways to go, move on and bring your soup to a boil by turning to high heat.

Once it is boiling, add the barley. Let it cook for a few minutes on high, then reduce the heat and simmer until the barley and vegetables are tender (about an hour).

Add the meat when it’s ready and simmer to let the flavors meld together. Ladle up a big bowl and enjoy!

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