Nanas Beef Soup 

Soup is food for the soul and when I was growing up soup was on the menu nearly every day of the week. Nana served Pop soup daily for lunch, usually either chicken noodle or beef soup and then again before his main evening meal. They often had soup followed by pancakes as a light Sunday supper and it was always on the stove when family were due home. Since she has been gone, Pop, who never really spent much time in the kitchen and invariably has nothing much in his fridge can make a mean pot of soup. On days like today when life seems like a bit of a struggle and the rain is pouring – the only answer is Nanas soup. 

If you are using barley in your soup you need to soak it for 8 – 12 hours first, so do that the night before. The soup will be less flavoursome without barley, so you’ll need a cheat ingredient if you are going to leave it out. In many parts of the world Maggi Wurze seasoning sauce is the best addition for flavour. It’s a dark, soy sauce hydrolysed vegetable protein based sauce – with an intense bouillon taste. You simply splash it into soups and sauces to add instant flavour. If you can’t buy it where you live – then you could add a tablespoon of marmite instead. 

Serves 8 – 10


  • 2 large onions – diced 
  • 5 carrots – diced 
  • 1/2 celery, including leafy heart – sliced 
  • 700g sirloin steak – thinly sliced with no trace of fat
  • 2 beef stock cubes 
  • Salt, pepper, bayleaf, peppercorns 
  • 2 nests of egg noodles 
  • 1/2 cup of barley or “soup mix” (barley / split peas) – soaked overnight or for at least 8 hours (optional) 
  • Water 
  • Maggi or marmite 

Using a large saucepan (at least 5 litre capacity), put the onion, carrot, celery, a few peppercorns, beef, barley (if using) and bay, fill with cold water until just under 3/4 full. Bring to the boil – this will take some time due to the volume of water. When it is boiling rapidly a thick frothy scum will form on the surface. Using a large long handled spoon, skim the scum off and discard until the liquid is perfectly clear. 

Dissolve the two stock cubes in a cup of boiling water and add to the pot along with salt, ground pepper and a few splashes of Maggi or a dessertspoon of marmite. Stir and simmer until the carrots are cooked through – you don’t need to be precise, it will simmer along nicely for 30 minutes or so. About 5 minutes before you are ready to serve, check the seasoning and break the egg noodles into the soup. It’s better to break them as they are too long to ladle out at serving, when they are soft your soup is ready to serve. 

It will keep in the fridge for 4 – 5 days and can be frozen if you use fresh (not previously frozen) meat. 

You can make chicken noodle soup the same way using a raw or cooked chicken, less the skin. You need to be very careful about removing bones when serving. For chicken broth use chicken stock, fine egg noodles and no bay. 

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