Originally published Dec 7, 2012


'The Chef' is more than a mythical figment of my imagination. While becoming a regular at 'The Chef's Corner' in Naperville, we became good friends. The friendship started with our love for the game of basketball spilling over to ethnic culinary arts.  We stay in touch by having him pass on the recipes that I became accustomed to eating while visiting his restaurant.


Chef's Beef Barley Soup


Chef loved soup, a bit too much if you ask me but what do I know? I'm just a culinary stupid American. There were always two soups available at Chef's Corner. One soup was rotated every couple of weeks or so (Rosemary white bean was my personal favorite) with the other being Beef Barley. Regardless of weather or temperature, Beef Barley. 22 degrees with snow…Beef Barley. 95 degrees…Beef Barley. 115 degree heat index…Beef Barley. At first it was not something that I wanted to try, but he insisted much like he does to everyone that visits his restaurant for the first time. You will eat soup and you will like it. Chef's Corner is not exactly fast food so upon arriving, I would just find a place to sit or stand and let him take of business. Eventually the food would arrive…despite never making an official order. He would randomly shout over a different meal and would accept my head nod as approval. Sometimes the food would come out twenty minutes later but he always sent over a small cup of soup with a piece of bread to keep me busy. Over time, I became accustomed to Beef Barley soup and seemed weird to begin any meal without a small cup of soup. Imagine my surprise when the Chef called me to give me the recipe of his favorite Beef Barley Soup.


The soup will taste better if you let it simmer for hours if not overnight. If you find yourself doing food prep at 5:30 am, you have officially arrived. The meat is nothing special and a lower grade but that is because Chef enjoys cooking for 'the normal people'. The ingredients below cost me less than $15 even at Whole Foods. Just don't tell Chef that I shop there ok?



1. Pound of beef chuck .

2. 1 cup of chopped carrots

3. 1 cup of chopped onions

4. 1 cup of chopped celery

5. 2 quarts of beef stock

6. 1 cup of red wine .

7. 1 tbsp of Worchester sauce .

8 .1 teaspoon of tabasco sauce .

9. 1 tsp. of dried oregano

10. 1 teaspoon of dried thyme

11. Salt and pepper 1 10 oz. Can of dried tomatoes

12. Cup and a 1/2 of barley




  1. Dice and roast the beef , put on the side .
  2. Heat the oil in a big pot, add the vegetables cook until soft .
  3. Add the herbs and beef , cook it for 5 min.
  4. Add the wine reduce it until half .
  5. Add the Worchester sauce and tomatoes , cook for 5 min .
  6. Add the beef stock . Bring to boil , simmer for 20 min.
  7. Add the barley and simmer until it's soft .
  8. Adjust the seasoning , garnish with fresh basil and parsley



    Chef's comments:

    Have a good piece of bread and good wine with it enjoy :) You have to sear the beef because if you don't the meat will look sorta like spam or just disgusting. Roasting it gives it that dark color. 


    Vedad Vrselj calls Travnik home despite being forced out during the Bosnian War. His former restaurant in Naperville remains one of the most respected and highly reviewed eateries in the area winning awards for best burger and infuriated competition with better ingredients for less money (His yelp reviews). His cult following continues with catering to the Chicagoland area and stays in touch with his Facebook page.