Beef, barley, mushrooms, parsnips and beans make this a main-meal soup; use a slow cooker to bring out all the delicious flavours.
1 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms
1-1/4 lb. crosscut beef shank
4 tsp olive oil, divided in half
1 cup chopped leeks
1 cup peeled, chopped parsnips
3 celery stalks, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
6-1/2 cups hot water
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
1/2 cup pearl barley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/4" pieces
Step 1: Soak mushrooms in small bowl of hot water. Let stand until mushrooms are soft, about 25-30 minutes. Drain then cut off stems and discard. Slice mushroom caps then transfer to a 6-quart slow cooker.
Step 2: Sprinkle salt and pepper over beef. Heat 2 tsp of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook 4 minutes on each side. Transfer beef to slow cooker.
Step 3: Add remaining oil to skillet. Add leeks, parsnips, celery and garlic and sauté about 4-5 minutes. Transfer vegetables to slow cooker.
Step 4: Add 6-1/2 cups hot water to slow cooker, diced tomatoes and juice, barley, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Combine then cover; cook mixture on high until meat is tender and barley is soft, about 4-5 hours.
Step 5: Remove meat from slow cooker; cool slightly then discard bone and fat. Shred meat and return to slow cooker. Add cut green beans. Cover and cook until green beans are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with a loaf of crusty Italian bread.
Makes 4 to 6 servings