Beef and Barley Soup / Zuppa di Manzo e Orzo Perlato

Orzo, (barley), is an old grain, one of the first to be cultivated by man; the ancient Romans used it to make a coarse type of bread/

Pearl barley, not to be confused by the tiny pasta of the same name, is used in this beef and barley soup. To give extra flavor, toast the raw barley first in olive oil to bring out its nutty flavor before cooking it in water.

Serves 8


  • 2 teaspoons Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 2 pounds beef shank
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced intoinch pieces
  • 2 large carrots, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 7 cups hot water
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Ingredients


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a two quart saucepan and when it is hot stir in the barley and cook it until it begins to brown. Pour the water over the barley and bring it to a boil. Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt and cook until the barley is tender, about 15 minutes. Drain it in a colander and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining olive oil to a soup pot over medium high heat. Add the beef shank and brown it well on both sides. Salt and pepper the meat to taste. Stir in the onion, celery, carrot, and bay leaf. Add the celery salt, oregano, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir the tomato paste into the hot water and add to the pot. Stir once or twice to combine the ingredients, cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the temperature to low and cook until the meat is tender, about 2 hours. Stir in the barley and peas. 
  3. Remove the meat from the soup. Cut the meat into bite size pieces and return to the pot. Discard the bone.
  4. Reheat and serve or refrigerate the soup overnight and next day use a skimmer to remove the fat that has accumulated on the top before reheating.

This recipe was featured on Season 20 - Episode 2006.

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Barbara Parmigiani

Dear Mary Ann: My heritage is Italian American. My Mother and Grandmothers were excellent cooks. You are truly a great chef! You cook so much like my relatives. I love watching your shows on Create. And I learn so much from seeing and hearing you. I truly am grateful for your recipes on line. Please always be there for us. Question: I need new pans to go from the stove top to the oven. I have the heavy French pots – can you suggest metal pans that can do the job? Please respond. Respectfully, BP

mary ann esposito

Barbara, many apologies for not responding for 3 years!!!!!!!!!!

YIKES. I like All-Clad pot and pans and they are expensive but one or two will do most jobs and will last a lifetime


Does this soup freeze well? I am trying to make meals for a very busy mother of two with a full time job.
Thank you, Martha

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