This soup, adapted from the Best of Bridge series of cookbooks, was a staple when I was growing up. My mom used to make double batches and store the extra in 2L ice cream containers in the fridge, and we would happily live off leftovers until it was gone. When we were little, my brother told me that finding the bay leaf was lucky — that idea has carried forward into my family lore.
It is a hearty, inexpensive meal — a great way to stretch the food budget a little bit further — and is quick to throw together. Just be sure to leave enough time for it to cook! I like to serve it with fresh bread — there are many no-knead bread recipes that can be prepared over the same time frame as the soup.
The original recipe calls for canned condensed soup and consomme, but I modified it years back to better suit our tastes. Here is my version:
1 kg ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
6 cups stock or prepared bouillon, hot
796ml canned diced tomatoes (low/no salt)
156ml can of tomato paste
5 carrots, peeled and chopped fine
4 celery ribs, chopped fine
3/4 cup pot barley
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Brown the ground beef with the onions. Add all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2hrs.
Recipe is easily doubled or tripled. It can also be made in a slow cooker: brown beef with onions, add to slow cooker with remaining ingredients, and simmer all day on low heat.
Make lots, as the flavour is even better the next day!