This is my recipe and it has evolved over the years, just getting better and better. I throw things in until it looks right so I'll try to give approximate amounts. Feel free to add or subtract ingredients based on your family's preferences. If you leave something out, be sure to make up for it by adding more of something else. I sometimes add cole slaw mix (shredded cabbage) or some frozen spinach. You can also add a can of rinsed garbanzo beans (chick peas, ceci beans) instead of diced potatoes. This makes about 10 servings. If that is too much for your family, you can reduce it, freeze half, or bless someone else.
Vegetable Beef Barley Soup
1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 c)
2 cloves garlic, chopped (or 1 tsp jarred)
1 (46 oz) can tomato juice
1 (32 oz) box beef stock, unsalted (I use Kitchen Basics)
2 1/2 to 3 c frozen mixed veggies (peas, carrots, corn, green beans)
2 c frozen Fordhook limas
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, no salt
1 medium potato, peeled & diced (or 1/2-1 c frozen Southern-style hash brown potatoes)
1/2 c quick-cook barley
1 tsp Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper, to taste
In large dutch oven/pot, cook beef, onions, and garlic on medium until beef is browned throughout. Drain grease and return to pot. Add remaining ingredients, except barley and seasonings. Bring to a boil; reduce to simmer. Let cook for at least 30 minutes until veggies soften and soup color deepens (no longer bright red). Add seasonings and barley; let continue to simmer for at least 30 more minutes. The longer it simmers, the better it gets.
Serve with crackers or butter bread and a salad.