French market vegetable beef soup is a meal in itself. It’s got everything from the market in it – chunks of beef, carrots, onions, celery, tomatoes, pearled barley, corn, green beans, red wine, potatoes, Herbs de Provence and paprika all in a rich beef broth. Be sure to add the parsley at the end. It adds a nice fresh garden flavor and color.
French Market Vegetable Beef Soup
Southern California usually has a climate much like the South of France, but last week we were pounded by torrential rainstorms. My thoughts turned to more pleasant weather and a trip to Provence. Fields of fragrant purple lavender humming with bees growing next to fields of golden barley. It was almost surreal, like something from a dream.
From that enchanting memory, I created French market vegetable beef soup, a hearty meal in a bowl for cold wintery days.
Classic French Herb Blend: Herbs De Provence
A few summers ago we were lucky to be in beautiful Provence for a photography workshop. One of the highlights was shooting the lavender fields. Rolling hills, oceans of lavender as far as you could see. It was amazing. Traveling through Provence we saw little clay jars and cotton bags of a dried herb blend called Herbs de Provence. They were in every village we visited.
Created from a blend of herbs that typically bloom in the hillsides of Southern France in summer months, Herbs de Provence includes thyme, rosemary, lavender, fennel, sage, marjoram and savory. You don’t have to travel to Provence to find it. It’s available here as well.
If you’ve never used Herbs de Provence, it’s great for roast chicken and pork, stews, roasted red potatoes, vegetables and many other recipes. It’s always in my herb and spice arsenal, and it’s what I use in this soup.
But back to reality. Needing a warm, comforting soup for my clients and family to ward off the chilly, wet weather, I created French Market Vegetable Beef soup. It combines two elements of that lovely Provence afternoon – a lavender herb blend and barley.
Pressure Cooker Method
Don’t let the list of ingredients deter you from trying this hearty soup. Once your prep work is done it goes together quickly as it’s made in a pressure cooker. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, it’s a terrific tool to add to your kitchen collection. I use Fagor pressure cookers. When the lid is secured and you’ve brought it to high pressure it only takes eight minutes to complete.
This soup freezes well. You can make a single batch in an 6 or 8 quart pressure cooker or a double batch with a 10 quart model. Either way, freeze part of your batch for that next rainy day.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, cook soup in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven and simmer over low heat, covered, until the beef and vegetables are tender and the flavors are blended. It will just take longer than the pressure cooker version.
Ingredient Notes – Bone Broth
Broth note – I used to use the organic Better Than Bullion concentrate to boost flavor. As I have worked towards eliminating unhealthy ingredients and reading every label, I decided to make a change to this recipe. Unfortunately while these types of products boost flavor, they are terribly high in sodium and contain unhealthy ingredients like sugar and caramel coloring. If you have bullion in your kitchen, toss it.
What I do now is buy frozen bone broth. For extra rich broth and big beefy flavor, reduce 8 cups to 4 cups before starting the recipe. Find good bone broth options in the frozen grocery aisle. Skip the cans and boxes which often have high sodium and unhealthy ingredients. Read labels carefully to make the best choice. You want a brand with no sodium if possible.
Barley note – This recipe calls for pearled barley. Pearled barley grains have had the outer layer polished off or pearled. Pearled barley lends a nice chew to this soup. In my mind I see those fields of golden barley growing next to fields of lavender in Provence.
But if you eat gluten-free, as we now do, skip the pearled barley as barley contains gluten. You could substitute a little cooked brown rice, but the soup is fine without it for a grain-free soup.
Beef note – Buy about 3/4 quarters of a pound of grass-fed top sirloin. I’m not much of a meat eater so I pick the meat out and give it to my husband, but I love the vegetables and rich broth. If you are big meat eaters, use a full pound.
Frozen vegetables note – Adding frozen vegetables pumps up the vegetable content, texture and healthy profile of the soup. Use an organic blend which includes corn, carrots, green beans, peas. And the nice thing is frozen vegetables are readily available.
Helpful Links – Shopping Tip
When I read labels and find ingredients I’m unsure of, I check a little app on my smartphone from the Center for Science in the Public Interest called Chemical Cuisine. It’s a helpful tool to understanding food additives and whether they are safe or not.
French Market Vegetable Beef Soup
- 3/4 – 1 pound top sirloin cut into small cubes about 3/4″
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided use
- 1 medium onion diced small
- 3 large garlic cloves minced or pressed
- 1/2 cup dry red wine optional
- 4 cups rich beef broth non or no sodium brand or homemade, see note in post
- 2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence see note below to sub
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1-14 ounce can petite diced tomatoes juice and all
- 2 medium carrots peeled, diced small
- 2 celery stalks peeled, diced small
- 2 medium red potatoes skin on, diced medium
- 1/4 cup pearled barley skip for gluten-free diet
- 6-8 ounces mixed frozen organic vegetables green beans, corn, peas and carrots
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Parmesan cheese as desired for topping optional
- Set a pressure cooker over medium to medium-high heat and brown meat in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the tomato paste and stir with the meat to coat and caramelize a bit. Set meat aside.
- Add second tablespoon of olive oil and sauté onions until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add wine to deglaze pan and reduce wine by half. Add all remaining ingredients, water through potatoes and the browned meat as well.
- Lock lid in place and bring up to high pressure; begin timing for eight minutes.
- Bring pressure down with the quick release method, moving the pot to a sink and running cool water over it. You will hear the pressure release in about 20 seconds. Remove bay leaf and stir in frozen vegetables and parsley.
- Garnish with cheese and enjoy.