Beef Vegetable Soup with Job's Tears

This Beef Vegetable Soup with Job's Tears is a very satisfying one pot meal, especially if you add some chopped kale, or other dark leafy greens at the end.  

It's the perfect antidote for building up blood, and qi, while being filled with many nutritional benefits.  Job's Tears (also called Yi Yi Ren in Chinese medicine) has a slightly cool nature and is great for helping eliminate excess dampness in the system leading to conditions like edema, or painful joints that are worse in damp weather.  It can help clear out excess heat as well.  

If you have a cold or flu bug that has progressed to include more heat symptoms, such as sore throat, phlegm with a yellow or colored tinge, or chest congestion with a lot of mucus, try this Beef Vegetable Soup with Job's Tears (Yi Yi Ren).  Pearl or hulled barely can be substituted, but the Yi Yi Ren is best.  You can find it here, or at a local Asian market.

Beef Vegetable Soup with Barley is especially good on a cold winter day, or when you feel your energy is lagging a bit.

Our disclaimer about eating whole grains

In our previous books, Essential Macrobiotics, by Don Matesz, and my book, The Macrobiotic Action Plan, we recommended for people to keep animal food consumption to no more than 10-15% of their total calories for the best health results.  

Our personal experience, and more current research caused us to make changes to our diet.  About 30% of my total calories now comes from animal proteins, and usually only about 15% of my total calories comes from carbohydrates in the form of vegetables, some fruits, nuts, and a little whole-fat dairy.  That may change over time, as I am continuing to do my best to apply the third principle of eating a healthy diet (also outlined in our Trust Your True Nature Diet Plan) ~ to eat more intuitively, and trust my true nature!  

I have updated our nutritional recommendations throughout this website,  on my  LivingYourTrueNature blog, and in The Trust Your True Nature Diet Plan e-book.  Don also has several informative articles about the health benefits of eating a higher protein and fat diet on his website.  

Each person will need to discover what works best, based on their current condition, general constitution, geographic location, and ancestral heritage.  

Generally speaking, we no longer advocate a whole-grain & bean, or carb-heavy diet as grains and beans contain components that can block absorption of important minerals, including zinc and others, and can cause difficult to detect gastro-intestinal issues which can lead to leaky gut syndrome.   Plus, excess consumption of carbohydrate-rich foods, all of which break down into sugar in the body,  has actually been shown more affirmatively to be the culprit of insulin-resistant obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, whereas meats and saturated fats have not, contrary to popular belief.

That being said, whole grains are a better choice than refined grains which are higher glycemic, causing a greater spike and subsequent dip to your blood sugar.  

For those who do not tolerate grains, or gluten, or who are in the earlier stages of weight loss, and a lower-carbohydrate diet, other vegetables can be used in lieu of the barley.  Less starchy vegetables like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, or red bell pepper  will also make a delicious and hearty Beef Vegetable Soup, especially good for those trying to lose weight.

Starchier vegetables can be used instead of the barley as well.  Try the soup with rutabaga, turnip, or a little sweet potato, pumpkin, spaghetti squash, or other winter squashes for a hearty one-pot fall or winter meal.

Going without any animal foods for any length of time (as we did for over five years) has been shown in some studies to result in certain nutrient deficiencies (which we definitely had.)

Zinc is one such mineral and antioxidant, which is important for immunity, wound healing, healthy skin, and libido that is more bioavailable from animal foods than plant foods.  B 12 is also a very important vitamin to supplement if not including animal foods in the diet.  

Deficiency of B 12 can lead to anemia, and long-term deficiency can cause fatigue, lightheadedness, palpitations or shortness of breath, depression, nerve problems, pale skin, and memory or vision loss.  

All of these symptoms are similar to those of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diagnosis of blood deficiency.  You can read more here.

This Beef Vegetable Soup with Job's Tears  can help build your blood, and boost your vitality when feeling run down, constantly cold, tired, or fatigued, or if experiencing any of the blood deficiency symptoms according to Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), outlined below.  

Job's Tears, or Yi Yi Ren is often included in herbal formulas for helping treat people with excess damp, including those with arthritic pain 
conditions that are worse in cold and damp climates.  

Adding lots of celery with the barley is especially beneficial for leaching out the excess damp.

If you are too yin, live in a colder climate,  or have a history of anemia, or blood deficiency as defined by TCM, and you have been avoiding animal foods for a long time, you may want to consider adding a little to the diet, or at least taking certain supplements to ensure against unnecessary health issues resulting from deficiencies.  

Enjoy at least a small amount of meat or poultry added to a soup like the Beef Vegetable Soup with Job's Tears as often as needed until energy is restored and any other symptoms have resolved.

The signs of blood deficiency from a TCM  perspective include any of the following:

  • Ongoing fatigue, needing caffeine to get going
  • Low levels of motivation
  • Difficulty getting good quality deep sleep, or remaining asleep through the night
  • Higher than normal level of anxiety, or low depressed moods 
  • Pale pink nails, and pale under the lower eyelids
  • Dry hair and skin
  • Palpitations, or occasional shortness of breath

This may not actually register as a low iron count on a standard blood test.  If you have any of these symptoms, give this Beef Vegetable Soup with Barley a try!

Beef Vegetable Soup with Job's Tears (or Barley)

Plan ahead for this Beef Vegetable Soup with Barley, especially if using grass-fed beef shank.  You will get the most bang for your buck if you let it simmer with a little vinegar or lemon (an acid) all day or even over night to pull the minerals out of the bone and make a nice bone broth.

Make a flavorful and extra mineral-rich broth by adding kombu or kelp seaweed, and the vegetable discarded parts of onions, celery, carrots, or scallions.

Simply strain before preparing the soup.  The meat will be very tender after simmering all day too!


  • 1 pound of beef shank, give or take (try your best to budget grass-fed when at all possible) 
  • Water
  • A splash of vinegar (helps pull out minerals from the bone), or half a lemon
  • 1 5-6 inch piece of kelp or kombu seaweed (optional)
  • Discarded parts of vegetables (I keep in a container in the fridge for making bone broths) such as the roots or tops of onions, scallions, celery, etc., or 1 onion or 3-4 scallions, 1-2 stalks celery, and 2 carrots, all rough chopped (optional to add more flavor to broth)
  • 1-2 bay leaves & 5-6 whole peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup barley, cooked in 1.5-2 cups of water 
  • 2 tsp. olive oil or butter
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 carrots, chopped, including the leaves
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound of mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2-1 parsnip, chopped
  • Oregano and dried thyme (or whatever you like)
  • Sea salt and black pepper


  1. Place beef shank bone and meat into a pot with enough water to cover by an inch or two.  Add about 2 tsp. vinegar.  I have a Chinese 'Mature' vinegar that has a nice, rich flavor.  Red vinegar would be fine.  Bring up to a gentle simmer with lid slightly ajar.
  2. Add the optional seaweed, extra stock vegetables,  bay leaf, and peppercorns.   Let simmer a few hours or all day.  When ready, strain out the bone and vegetable parts, retaining the meat.  Cut meat into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Meanwhile cook barley in three times, or a bit more, of water.  Bring to a boil, add 1/2 tsp. sea salt,  reduce to low, cover and cook until barley is tender.  
  4. Heat a separate soup pot, and add oil or butter.  Saut√© the remaining vegetables and garlic.  Add a generous 1-2 tsp. oregano, 1/2-1 tsp. thyme, and season with sea salt and pepper.  Cook until tender, but still a little crisp.
  5. Add the beef to the pot of vegetables.  Cover with the broth, saving any remaining for another soup.  
  6. Add up to 1 cup of barley.  Let it all simmer for 10-20 minutes.  
  7. Do a taste test, and adjust seasonings as needed.
Hearty, chewy & nutritious Beef Vegetable Soup w/ Jobs Tears or Barley will boost your qi, and fill you up. See variations for those wanting a lower-carb or grain-free alternative.

Prefer chicken or turkey?  Both are good alternatives to the beef.  Prepare in the  Bone Broth made with chicken and/or turkey bones.   Or try the Chicken Vegetable Soup, also great on a chilly day!

Vary the vegetables as needed, subbing root vegetables for the barley.  Cook with the rest of the vegetables, add the meat, and let simmer until soft.  Try with any of the starchy or non-starchy vegetables mentioned above.

Left over barley can be re-steamed to heat up when ready to eat.  But, by itself, barley is a bit chewy and bland.  

Alternatively, add a little to a salad, or make a nice pilaf:

Stir fry 1/2-1 leek or onion, diced, 2 stalks of celery, several mushrooms, and optional chopped greens like Swiss chard in extra virgin olive oil and / or butter.  Add left over cut up chicken or turkey breast, or tender beef cut into strips.  Season with sea salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper, or oregano.  Cover, turn lower, and let heat through, adding a little water if barley is sticking.  Top with chopped walnuts for extra richness and crunch.

Roasted Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts & Vegetable Medley served w/ the Beef Vegetable Soup w/ Barley

You may also like either of these soups, a couple more hold outs from my previous vegan meal plans.

 (Note: These recipes are getting updated and will be republished as soon as possible.)

Easy Creamy Broccoli Soup
Creamy Cauliflower Soup

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