Hello, Again & Beef Barley Soup with Vegetables

I’d like to open with a sincere “Thank you!” to the person who recently started following this blog; the notification was the impetus I needed to get back to this.

Well, that, and getting on the scale this morning…

My husband and I did well on Nutrisystem.  In 5 months, he lost 70 lbs and I lost 30.  Unfortunately, we got tired of the same, shelf-stable foods and sort of ‘fell off the wagon’.  Then we started re-gaining weight through a combination of poor planning, overtime and horrible traffic, all of which lead to too many dinners out…

I had re-gained almost 20 lbs by August, when we started on Weight Watchers.  I lost about 7 lbs over the first three weeks (yay!) but between being under the weather, on holiday and planning a major family event, the last month has been terrible.  I haven’t been tracking, and the scale says I’m back up over what I was when we started.  I’m hoping to be heading back in the correct direction by the time my check-in rolls around on Thursday.

I’m working on a few ideas for posts this week – and don’t worry, there will at least a few more “Edited Entrées” using the NS stuff we still have in the pantry from our final order.  I’m will continue to give the Nutrisystem information with my recipes as best I can, along with the calorie counts, but I’m going to start including WW’s SmartPoints, too.  For anyone who isn’t familiar with WW’s new system, fruits and non-starchy vegetables are 0 points, and the biggest factors influencing a food’s points are the grams of saturated fat and sugar in it.  As a diabetic, that’s actually something that appeals to me, as I felt that many of the shelf-stable NS entrees – especially at breakfast – derived a few too many calories from starch and sugar, and not enough from protein.

Another big change in the new WW’s system is that points for recipes are calculated based on the points of the various ingredients, not on the overall calories of the recipe as a whole.  Which means that I can bulk up entrées with extra vegetables without having to pay ‘extra’ points!

In fact, that’s what I did with this recipe for Beef Barley Soup with Vegetables, which I adapted from “Crazy Plates” by Janet & Greta Podleski.  It’s got a full two servings of vegetables per serving, a bit more zip than the original, and way less sodium!  It was pretty easy to make, and the long simmering time (which pretty much guarantees tender meat) means that you have plenty of time to get the table set then relax!



3/4 lb beef stew meat, trimmed of fat
2 c chopped celery* (about 4 stalks)
4 c chopped onion* (about 1 large)
2 c chopped carrots* (4 – 5 medium)
1 tsp minced garlic
2 bay leaves (fresh, if possible)
4 c water
1 tsp Better than Bouillion (Beef)
1/2 c strained tomatoes (sometimes sold as ‘passata’ or tomato purée)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tbps fresh chives, chopped

* You could use 8 cups of mirepoix mix, if you have it on hand.

Bursting with vegetables and chunks of beef



  1. Cut the beef into bit-sized pieces (I like about 1/2″ cubes.)
  2. Pre-heat a large, deep pan over medium-high heat. When ready, spray with non-stick spray.
  3. Add beef and sauté quickly until browned.
  4. Add vegetables and mix well.  Sauté for 3 minutes.
  5. Add garlic and sauté another 2 minutes, until vegetables start to soften.
  6. Add all remaining ingredients, except chives.
  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 90 minutes, until meat is tender.
  8. Remove bay leaves. Ladle into bowls, and garnish with chopped chives.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The soup may be made with water, but it gets body from the strained tomatoes.  It’s heaty and flavourful, and has landed quite firmly on the ‘husband-approved’ list.

Nutritional Information, according to MasterCook:  Per Serving:  309 Calories; 8g Fat (23.5% calories from fat); 24g Protein; 36g Carbohydrate; 9g Dietary Fiber; 47mg Cholesterol; 281mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 2 1/2 Lean Meat; 4 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fat.

By my calculations, this works out to 5 Smart Points a serving, or 1 Power Fuel, 1 Smart Carb and 2 servings of vegetables per portion.



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