Ace Blender Beef and Barley Soup

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recipe by America's Test Kitchen

  • Time icon
    Total Time
  • Serves icon
  • Calories icon

This soup is hearty enough for dinner, so the idea of making it in the blender held great appeal. First, we focused on building a beefy broth without browning the beef in a skillet to create a fond that would infuse the soup with flavor when deglazed. Instead we turned to a potent combo of umami-packed mushrooms and tomato paste plus onion and garlic, which we bloomed in the microwave. Our base assembled, we simply added it to the blender along with beef broth, soy sauce (a test kitchen trick for adding beefy flavor), and chopped carrot for vegetal sweetness. We selected the chunky soup program because we knew we’d want to add thinly sliced beef after the preheating phase so it would cook through but not become pulverised. We used top sirloin because it is so lean and did not make the soup greasy. For the barley, a judicious ¼ cup of quick-cooking barley fit the bill and we added it along with the beef. Be sure to use quick-cooking (sometimes labeled “quick-cooking pearled”) or pre-steamed barley, which has been partially cooked during processing to reduce its cooking time.

Inspired by:

recipe updated Jun 25, 2020


  • Carrot icon
    1 (about 50 g)
  • Onion icon
    1 (about 140 g)
  • Fresh thyme icon
    Fresh thyme
    1 tsp (about 0.8 g)
  • Lean sirloin icon
    Lean sirloin
    227 g (about 1 cup)
  • Beef broth icon
    Beef broth
    3 cups (about 720 g)
  • Soy sauce icon
    Soy sauce
    1 tbsp (about 18 g)
  • Crimini mushrooms icon
    Crimini mushrooms
    113.5 g (about 1 ¼ cups)
  • Tomato paste icon
    Tomato paste
    1 ½ tbsp (about 24.75 g)
  • Garlic clove icon
    Garlic clove
    3 (about 18 g)
  • Black pepper icon
    Black pepper
    ¼ tsp (about 0.54 g)
  • Vegetable oil icon
    Vegetable oil
    1 tbsp (about 13.8 g)
  • Quick-cooking barley icon
    Quick-cooking barley
    ¼ cup (about 60 g)
  • Salt & pepper icon
    Salt & pepper
    1 pinch (about 0.38 g)
  • Fresh parsley icon
    Fresh parsley
    2 tbsp (about 7.8 g)


  • kCook icon Microwave
  • kCook icon Ace Nova Blender
  • kCook icon Ace blender jug
  • kCook icon Large glass bowl

Step preview

  1. Add crimini mushrooms, onion, tomato paste, garlic clove, black pepper, fresh thyme and vegetable oil to a clean large glass bowl
  2. Cook in microwave until softened while stirring occasionally - approx 5 min
  3. Transfer content of large glass bowl to Ace blender jug
  4. Add beef broth, carrot and soy sauce to the Ace blender jug
  5. Secure and lock lid
  6. Select "Soup Program 1" (for chunky soups)
  7. Pause when 20 minutes remain
  8. Stir lean sirloin and quick-cooking barley into the Ace blender jug carefully
  9. Replace lid
  10. Resume program
  11. Season with salt & pepper to taste
  12. Serve
  13. Sprinkle with fresh parsley
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