Season the beef generously with salt and pepper, then toss in flour and set aside for 10 minutes. Pour the extra virgin olive oil into a large heavy-based saucepan over a high heat and fry the beef in batches until well-browned. Set aside.
Chop one head of fennel and add to the saucepan with the onion, celery, garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Cook for 5 minutes. Mix in the tomato paste, cook briefly, then add the sherry and stock.
Return the beef, turn the heat to low and cook gently for 1½ hours. Mix in the barley and cook for a further 1½ hours. Mix in the tomatoes and soybeans and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley, then serve.