Mom's Beef Stew

2 pounds meaty beef soup bones, beef, shanks or short ribs 6 cups water 5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed 5 medium carrots, chopped 1/2 cup medium pearl barley 1 can plum tomatoes, undrained (28 oz) 1 to 1 1/2 t. pepper 2 garlic cloves, minced, optional 1 bay leaf, optimal 3 T. cornstarch 1/2 cup cold water

Place soup bones and water in a soup kettle or Dutch oven. Slowly bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 2 hours. Set beef bones aside until cool enough to handle. Remove meat from bones; discard bones and return meat to broth. Add the potatoes, carrots, onion, barley, tomatoes,salt, pepper, garlic and bay leaf if desired. Cover and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes or until the vegetables and barley are tender. Discard bay leaf. Combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth; stir into stew. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Makes 10 servings. Source: Unknown

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