Braised Beef Soup with Chard and Spelt

by Apr 13, 2023

I love this soup by Joshua McFadden for its varied textures. You braise the beef separately and start the soup base with very thinly sliced onions, adding spelt, carrots, and chard later which preserves a certain freshness. The horseradish cream is an excellent finishing touch (and great for dipping potato chips!) The whole process takes a little while, so save it for a day when you’re around the house. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

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Braised Beef Soup with Spelt and Chard

makes 3 quarts; adapted from Joshua McFadden's "Beef and Swiss Chard Soup with Spelt" in Grains For Every Season


  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 2 or 3 pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 quarts broth or water for 8 cups total, eg. one 16-ounce Bare Bones Beef broth + 6 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a few sprigs thyme
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems ripped out and chopped, leaves sliced into 1-inch ribbons
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup uncooked spelt Conservation Grains
  • 1 14-ounce can tomatoes, diced or whole, drained and roughly chopped if whole
  • 1–2 cups water, if needed for consistency optional

Horseradish cream: stir together ½ cup sour cream or crème fraîche and 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish


  1. Season the meat with salt and pepper. On the stovetop with moderate-high heat, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to a heavy pot, like a Dutch oven (choose one with a lid as you will need that later). Add the meat and brown on all sides. Don't rush this step as the browning creates great flavor for the soup. It will take about 15 minutes.

  2. Remove the beef to a plate and set aside. Lower heat to medium, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring and scraping the fond from the bottom of the pan, until the onion is soft, about 8 minutes.

  3. Add the wine and simmer rapidly (increase heat if needed) until wine is reduced by about half. Add the 8 cups broth/water, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs. Return the beef and any juices to the pot, bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook until beef is very tender, 2–3 hours. Remove the beef, let it cool, and pull it apart into generous bite-sized pieces, discarding any unappetizing fat or gristle bits.

  4. While the beef cools, add the chard stems, carrots, and spelt to the broth and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the chard leaves and tomatoes and simmer until all the vegetables are tender and the spelt is fully cooked al dente, about 10 more minutes.

  5. Return the beef to the pot, taste the broth and add additional salt or pepper if you'd like. Add a cup or two of water if you want more broth.

  6. Serve with a dollop of horseradish cream. Keeps for 3 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.

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