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: Bone Broth and Butternut Squash Soup

Because Amy brought up the idea (and because she’s brilliant), and because it was seconded and thirded, I begin this day with Recipe Friday. I will try to post at least one new recipe per week.

I start with a two-fer, because the recipe is for Butternut Squash Soup, but one of its ingredients is bone broth.

A word (or two or many) about bone broth: If you are looking to improve your health, this is the number one most important venue to investigate and implement. Remember when great-grandma used to save those bones and simmer them for hours or days? Ever see those old-time movies, when someone was sick, and they brought calves foot jelly? There was something nutritious and healing in them-thar bones. I invite you to do some research on bone broth. There are many, many recipes to browse.

More words on bone broth: You can buy bone broth. Make sure it’s realio-trulio BONE broth, not the flavored broth that sells so quickly for flavor. I have found a true (I’m pretty sure) bone broth at Walmart: it’s organic (which I highly recommend) and I get the low-sodium (if I need salt, I prefer to add my own pink Himalayan salt); but the drawback is, they add sugar (ech!) and other stuff. Auuugh! Why, oh why??? Anyway, that one is my fall-back when I don’t have any left that I made myself, because it’s very reasonably priced. Walmart carries organic chicken bone broth and beef bone broth.

Every morning I heat a small pot of bone broth (2 servings) for us to drink after our morning coffee. I supplement: half bone broth, half filtered water, five shakes of pink Himalayan salt, and two scoops powdered collagen (I buy the Dr. Axe unflavored – pricey, but worth our health). It’s very soothing to sip, and excellent for gut health.

To make bone broth:

  • Bones (with or without attached meat) You can use beef, chicken, or fish. You can use hooves, feet, or beaks. When I make mine, I usually use the bones from a chicken I roasted for dinner.
  • Veggies (when I cut carrots, onions, and celery for other recipes, I save the cut ends in the freezer)
  • Filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons salt (use the good stuff)


  • Pressure cooker or slow cooker (a big pot on the stove doesn’t work well for this, since it cooks overnight)
  • A stainless steel colander basket insert is handy. Put it in the pot prior to adding any ingredients. The ingredients all go into the colander; then, when finished cooking, lift the colander out and drain the broth back into the pot.


  1. (Extra note: Some people like to roast beef bones first, in the oven, to give the broth extra flavor. This is optional)
  2. Put the colander (if using) into the pot, and put the bones and veggies into it. Sprinkle a tablespoon or so of salt on.
  3. Add filtered water and vinegar. I use a pitcher to fill my pot. I add the vinegar to the pitcher; that way I don’t feel I have to stir the bones & veggies & water, and make a mess.
  4. If using a slow cooker, set it on low and cook for 24-36 hours. I have not had to add more water when I do this, but it’s a good idea to check your pot once in a while, to make sure it has enough water.
  5. If using a pressure cooker, cook for 5 hours:
    1. I use an Instant Pot. I can set on Soup for up to 4 hours. I do that, then, after it gets down to less than 3 hours, I add an extra hour.
    2. If you have a stove-top pressure cooker, keep a heat just enough to keep pressure for 5 hours.
  6. At the end of cooking, drain the veggies and bones out. I like to put a small cooling rack over my pot, then rest the colander on top of it, draining into the pot. If you don’t have a colander, use a slotted spoon to take out the bones and veggies.
  7. Let the broth cool.
  8. I like to add unflavored beef gelatin (organic) while the broth is still warm. It adds some nutritional oomph. When I make bone broth, it yields about ¾ of a gallon. I add maybe ½ cup of gelatin. I whisk it in, and whisk quite a few times as it cools, to make sure it’s all incorporated.
  9. Pour into canning jars. I use half-gallon size, and I get about one and a half jars full.
  10. Store in the refrigerator.

Butternut Squash Soup in the Pressure Cooker


Notes: I use the Instant Pot for this. Also, I like nutmeg a lot, so I add even more than the recipe calls for. I am sensitive to dairy, so I use rice milk. But butter – oh, yes, butter! And, this could be made in a pot on the stove, but it would take longer. I’m guessing 20 – 40 minutes to cook the cubed squash, depending on how small it’s chopped, and how big a pot you use.

This serves 5-8 people, depending on if it’s a main or side dish. Figure 45 minutes or so from start to finish.

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon powdered or grated fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • 3 cups bone broth
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups milk, cream, or half-and-half (I use rice milk)
  • 4 small-medium potatoes, peeled, cubed and boiled (rice, quinoa, or lentils would also go well; this would be a good way to use up left-overs of any of these)
  • chicken, cooked and shredded (optional)


  • Peel the squash, remove the seeds, and cut into cubes (1” or so).
  • Chop the onion.
  • In the pressure cooker (or Instant Pot insert), add the olive oil. Use the sauté mode or cook over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the squash, onion, and salt.
  • Cook and stir until slightly roasted (10 minutes).
  • Add the spices; cook and stir five more minutes.
  • Add the bone broth.
  • Fit the lid on, bring up to pressure and cook (at pressure) for 10 minutes.
  • (If you are using potatoes: while the squash sautés, comes to pressure, cooks, and de-pressurizes, peel, cube, and cook the potatoes; they should cook in 10 – 15 minutes.)
  • Do a quick-release of the pressure.
  • When all the pressure is released, take off the lid. Use an immersion blender to blend up the soup.
  • Stir in the butter, then the milk.
  • Add the potatoes and the (optional) chicken. Add more bone broth or milk, if needed.
  • Turn on the heat again, or use the sauté mode. Stir over heat until it’s hot.

Serve hot. Some good biscuits or a grilled cheese go well with this.