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There's nothing more comforting than a bowl of beef stew unless of course, it's a bowl of steaming hot beef stew loaded with lots and lots of barley. Y'all, now that's comfort food at its best. Seriously folks, this really is a bowl of stew you can totally make a meal out of, and thanks to the pumpkin and seasonings, it's flavor is totally as amazing as it's texture. Rinsing the barley will help to remove any dust, dirt, or debris. Use whichever cooking method you prefer for this recipe. I used a crockpot/instant pot on the brown/sauté setting for the onions and meat, followed by the crockpot setting for the actual stew. If using a Dutch oven, the soup will need to cook for about an hour to thicken and allow the barley enough time to plump up nicely. When it comes to stew, I prefer it to be thick, which is why I added extra corn starch to thicken it. If you prefer your stew to be not quite so thick, leave it out. There’s a lot of barley in this stew. You can always add less if that’s your thing. I happen to like that this stew is a meal in a bowl. It’s quite filling. Add a few bay leaves to the stew while it is cooking. Make sure to remove them before serving. Garnish with fresh thyme before serving. For a meatless alternative, replace the beef in this recipe with mushrooms and use vegetable broth instead of beef broth. Swirl a bit of sour