My mom is such a gifted cook… practically a MacGyver in the kitchen. Give her a handful of random ingredients and she can whip up a feast! Now that I’m out of the house and off her menu, it is a treat to have nostalgic meals! Beef Barley Soup is one of those for me. In no time, she would cook up this soup with full flavor that would warm me on a cold day. Now that the weather is starting to turn (and as I feel a cold coming on) I will share my version of Beef Barley soup. I’ll also highlight a few lead ingredients that will help boost your immune system to keep you from catching a cold.

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
½-1 chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1-2 chopped carrots
1-2 chopped celery stalks
1 ½ pound ground beef
1 diced sweet potato
3 medium fresh or frozen tomatoes,
or 1 (14.5 ounce) can no salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon paprika
½ cup corn
½ cup peas
½ cup broccoli
Water + beef bouillon or low sodium beef broth
1 cup quick-cooking barley or pearl barley (takes about 30 mins to become tender)

Directions

1- In soup pot, saute onion, garlic, carrots and celery in coconut or olive oil until onion becomes translucent.

2- In a separate pan, brown the ground beef until only slight pink remains (it will continue cooking in the boiling soup). Drain off any grease and discard. Add meat to soup pot.

3- Add seasoning as well as desired vegetables. Add broth/ water + bouillon until all vegetables are covered or more if desired. Add barley and let simmer for at least 10 minutes if using quick cooking barley or at least 30 minutes if using pearl barley. As you let it continue to simmer, the flavor will deepen! Easy as that!!!

Key Components:

Barley (and Oats) – These grains, pasta-like in texture, is high in fiber as well as minerals such as selenium. Selenium is an essential component of several major activities including immune function. One type of fiber in barley has significant antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities, also boosts immunity, speeds wound healing, and may help antibiotics work better.

Garlic – This potent onion relative contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. Slicing, chopping, mincing or pressing garlic before cooking enhances its health-promoting properties. The finer you chop garlic, the stronger the smell and flavor, and the more health-promoting nutrients available. Garlic is an excellent source of manganese, a very good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C and a good source of selenium.

Beef – If possible, look for lean beef from cows that have been grass fed. Beef is a very good source of protein, vitamins B2, B6, and B12, zinc, selenium, niacin, iron and phosphorus. Zinc deficiency is common among adults in our society which is unfortunate as even mild zinc deficiency can increase your risk of infection. Zinc develops white blood cells and therefore the immune system as it must identify and destroy invading bacteria and viruses.

Sweet Potato – Foods high in beta-carotene (like carrots and sweet potato) are converted into vitamin A which assists in immune health. In addition to Vitamin A, sweet potatoes provide good amounts of manganese, folate, copper, iron pantothenic acid and dietary fiber. Among other things, regular consumption of sweet potatoes strengthen the body’s immune system and resistance to infections.