Recipe Friday: Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup

Soups are so flexible because you can throw almost anything in: left-overs, the bottom of that old jar of herbs or spices, the tail ends of veggies, etc. I had some left-over potatoes and gravy from our pot roast, and threw that in. If you have been saving ends  of onions, celery, and carrots, you can throw them in, too: be sure clean them first, and fish them back out before you serve.

This soup can easily be made on the stovetop. Allow it to simmer for about 2 ½ hours total.

This would be good with a can of diced tomatoes in it; but my husband doesn’t like tomatoes.

I make my own bone broth and use that for the broth. Read more about the health benefits of bone broth here and here.

I like to cook my meat and veggies separately because the veggies get mushy if you cook them for as long as you need to cook the meat. But if you don’t mind the mushiness, you can throw everything in at the same time and pressure cook for 30 minutes total. Still use the natural pressure release for at least 10 minutes, though, so your meat doesn’t toughen up.


  • 1 lb beef stew pieces
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • 2 Tbs minced garlic
  • ½ cup red cooking wine
  • 2 cups coffee
  • 3 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbs tamari (soy sauce that’s really soy)
  • ¼  tsp liquid smoke (if that’s to your fancy)
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 cup sliced or chopped mushrooms
  • 4 cups beef bone broth
  • 1 tsp thyme or basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2/3 cup instant barley
  • 1 cup frozen peas


Turn the Instant Pot to sauté.  Heat the oil, then brown the stew meat (salt and pepper the meat). Remove the stew meat to a bowl. (If desired/needed, cut the meat into bite-size pieces.)

Add the chopped onions, celery, and carrots to the pot and cook until browned (add salt and pepper as desired). Remove to a separate bowl.

Add the wine to the pot and scrape the fond up.

Add the browned meat back into the pot.

Pour in the coffee, Worcestershire sauce, tamari, and liquid smoke.

Tighten the lid and cook at pressure for 15 minutes. Natural pressure release for 10 minutes, then quick release the rest of the pressure.

Cancel, and turn to sauté.

Take off the lid. Add in the veggies (onion, celery, and carrots), mushrooms, garlic, tomato paste, bone broth, thyme, bay leaf, and barley. Stir well.

Cancel, and turn to meat/stew pressure for 5 minutes.

Cancel and natural pressure release for 10 minutes, then quick release the rest of the pressure.

Remove the lid, and take out the bay leaf.

Turn to sauté. Stir in the peas and cook until the soup is hot.

Taste test and add salt, pepper, more broth, or whatever else you like (like the left-over potatoes and gravy).

Serve with a salad and some crusty bread.

Recipe Friday: Mongolian Beef Slow Cooker

I grabbed a photo from the Internet for this one, since mine, while tasty, did not shoot well. (Maybe it was the lighting, but it looked dirty brown and unappetizing.)

My husband’s favorite dish, when we visit a Chinese restaurant, is Mongolian Beef. I had never made it at home, but I found an Internet recipe, and, with a few changes, whipped it up. So easy! We used round steak, normally tough, but this was very tender.

Traditional Mongolian Beef calls for soy sauce. I recommend against “soy sauce.” Read your labels, and you’ll see that most soy sauces on the grocery shelves are mostly wheat. Tamari is soy sauce, actually made from soy. I buy the low-sodium style.

For the healthy sweetener, I use palm coconut sugar, but you can try others such as honey, date syrup, molasses, or even brown rice syrup. If you don’t have those, use brown sugar.

And, okay, I probably used a tablespoon or so of the garlic, since we like garlic at our house.

Bamboo shoots would go well in this, as well as the soft pea pods and other common Chinese-style veggies. Like the broccoli, add them at the end so they don’t get mushy.

Mongolian Beef in the Slow Cooker

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 3 – 5 hours

Serves: 3 – 5, depending on serving size and how much rice you’re serving with it


1 1/2 pounds (or so) of beef (I used round steak)

1/4 cup                cornstarch

2 tablespoons     olive oil

1 medium            onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon      garlic cloves, minced

3/4 cup                tamari sauce, low-sodium

3/4 cup                brewed coffee

1/2 cup                healthy sweetener

1 cup                    carrots, grated

4 cups                  fresh or frozen broccoli florets (if frozen, be sure it is completely thawed)

                              green onions for garnish

                              hot brown rice to go with


Cut beef into thin strips. In a zip-close bag add beef pieces and cornstarch. Shake to coat.
Add olive oil, onion, minced garlic, tamari, coffee, sweetener and carrots to slow cooker. Stir ingredients. Add coated beef and stir again until coated in the sauce.
Cook on high 1 hour, then on low for 4- 5 hours (or cook on high for 3 hours) until cooked throughout and tender.
In the last hour or half hour of cooking, stir in the broccoli.

Can serve over rice and garnish with green onions.

Recipe Friday: Beef Stroganoff Pressure Cooked

We’ve got a blizzard going on in our neck of the woods. This calls for comfort food.

I know, I know, stroganoff automatically goes over noodles, right? Well, you can do it that way, but this household likes potatoes. Hey, you can even serve it over rice or quinoa or whole grain barley or not over anything.

The Instant Pot (or a pressure cooker) and the coffee make the meat tender. The sherry or red wine adds “depth of flavor,” as I hear in all the cooking shows (well, it makes it better is what it does).


1 pound beef stew meat, cut into bite-size pieces

1 medium onion, diced

1 tablespoon (heaping) minced garlic

1 cup strong brewed coffee

spices to taste: cloves, basil, paprika, parsley, celery seed

salt to taste

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup cooking sherry or red wine

1 tablespoon tamari sauce

1 cup hot water

1/2 – 1 cup instant potato flakes

1/2 cup sour cream

hot mashed potatoes



Set pressure cooker to sauté. Sauté onions and beef until browned. In the last five minutes, add garlic.
Add just a bit of the coffee, and stir up the browned bits.
Add the rest of the coffee, the hot water, the spices, salt, Worcestershire sauce, tamari, and sherry or red wine. Stir.
Push Cancel. Put the lid on, and seal.
Set the Instant Pot to meat/stew, set for 20 minutes.
At the end of the 20 minutes, allow natural pressure release for at least ten minutes. After ten or fifteen minutes, release the pressure. Remove the lid.
Stir in the potato flakes: add enough to thicken. (This should be a bit thicker than you want it to end up, as it thins out a bit after you add the sour cream.)
Push Sauté, and let the mixture come to a low simmer.
Turn off the Instant Pot.
Stir in the sour cream; stir until completely incorporated.
Serve over hot mashed potatoes.