February 22, 2011

Jaime’s Slow-Cooker Beef and Barley Stew with French Bread {Naptime Tales from the Trenches}

Beef and Barley Slow-Cooker stew

This is the latest installment of my Tales from the Trenches Series. An ongoing series where friends and readers share their stories and recipes about the great food they fit into family life. We all have tips and tricks to share with each other: when we cook, what we cook and how we cook the delicious food we love to eat. If you are interested in contributing a story and recipe please feel free to contact me. Today my friend Jaime from the blog Prep Ahead and Dine In is sharing her amazing slow-cooker stew and french bread recipe!

Life with our three little girls is fabulously busy!  Preschool drop offs, dance carpools, Girl Scouts, story hours, play dates and MORE! There’s never a dull (or quiet) moment around here! The hours before dinner, better known in this house as “the witching hour,” prohibit the required chopping, sautéing, stirring and other necessary prep work that comes with serving a family dinner.  However, sitting down each night, all together, to a home cooked meal is of utmost importance to us. Family dinners give our daily lives shape. They force us to slow down, linger, and connect instead of moving on to the next “to do” list item.  Admittedly, finding the time and recipes necessary to facilitate this daily gathering is a challenge I rise to meet daily.  It comes easier for me now, but that wasn’t always the case.

There was a time, after the birth of my second daughter, when my love for cooking and baking began to falter. After a long day of teaching, I found myself prepping dinner with a screaming newborn in my arms and a clingy toddler on my leg. I knew something needed to change but I was not willing to sacrifice the quality of food I was putting on the table every night.  I began seeking out and creating recipes that allowed me to quickly prepare meals and snacks ahead of time using good quality, all natural or organic ingredients.  Now that I have three daughters, this prep ahead style is a necessity!

french bread

Beef and barley soup in the slow cooker is one of our favorite family dinners that can be prepared entirely ahead of time.  I like to combine all of the ingredients in the slow cooker the night before, and turn it on low before we head out the door the following morning.  I often use the delay timer on my bread machine and serve this alongside some crusty French bread.

You can add whatever vegetables your family likes best.  I usually use a bag of frozen mixed vegetables and then chop additional carrots and green beans because my kids prefer them.  The first time I made this soup I used vegetable broth and loved the results but you can use whatever you have on hand.

This recipe makes a ton!  Soup only tastes better when left in the fridge for a few days. I often use the leftovers for lunches or dinner later in the week.


Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup & French Bread for the Bread Machine


2 pounds stew meat
1 bay leaf
3 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
½ lb (or a couple of handfuls) of green beans
1 (16 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
2 quarts vegetable broth (I use Nature’s Promise)
1 tablespoon white sugar
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (28 ounce) can chopped stewed tomatoes with juice
½ cup barley

salt to taste

ground black pepper to taste

French Bread (bread machine recipe)

1 1/3 cup warm water
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
4 cups bread flour (OR 2 cups whole wheat flour and 2 cups bread flour)
2 teaspoons yeast


Directions for the Beef Stew

1.  In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except barley.  Cook on low for 8-10   hours.

2.  During the last 30-40 minutes of cooking, add the barley and stir.  Serve hot!

Directions for the French Bread

1.  Place all ingredients in the bread machine pan in the order given.

2.  Set on French setting and medium crust.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

Bread and stew go hand in hand – enjoy!

Naptime Stopwatch

Easy, peasy, assemble everything in 10 minute then cook!

Naptime Reviews

A classic delicious meal that is a cinch to make ahead!

8 Responses to “Jaime’s Slow-Cooker Beef and Barley Stew with French Bread {Naptime Tales from the Trenches}”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kelsey Banfield, Alltop Food. Alltop Food said: Tales from the Trenches: Jaime’s Slow-Cooker Beef and Barley Stew with French Bread http://bit.ly/eVaWcY […]

  2. Marla {family fresh cooking} says:

    Jaime, thanks for sharing this soup with us. I need to pull out that slow cooker. Kelsey, thanks for sharing Jaime and her recipe with us 🙂

  3. Sandi says:

    Can you cook this recipe in shorter time with the crockpot on high?

    • KelseyTheNaptimeChef says:

      Hi Sandi – I have never done it but based on the ingredients it should be totally possible. Let us know!


  4. Anna says:

    I’m a relatively new cook so forgive me if this is a silly question….but you said you combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker the night before, then turn it on that morning. I assume you don’t put the meat in until the morning; do you put the frozen vegetables in the night before or do you wait until the morning for those too?