Beef Barley Soup

February 6, 2020

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Rich and hearty homestyle Beef Barley Soup! Made with tender chunks of beef roast, nutritious whole grain barley, fresh veggies and a deliciously seasoned broth. A soup that’s sure to warm the soul on chilly days!

Alos try these other beef soups favorites – Vegetable Beef Soup, Slow Cooker Beef Stew, Hamburger Soup, and that childhood classic Beef and Tomato Macaroni Soup. You can never have too many soup recipes!

White bowl set over a white plate filled with beef and barley soup with a second serving shown in the background. Also shown is a side serving suggestion of fresh bread.

My favorite thing to end a cold day with at dinner time is a steaming bowl of soup, like this hearty beef barley soup.

I’ve been through the list of soups and made what seems like every kind out there, but that’s just the great thing about soup. The possibilities are endless.

This homemade classic is one that once you try it fresh, you’ll never be able to eat it canned again. But that goes for just about any other soup too, right?

There’s just something about all those ingredients simmering together building up flavor, and serving it warm for sipping that creates a cozy dish like no other.

And this one has a great blend of textures as well, with the tender beef and veggies, chewy barley and the base of runny broth. It’s a mouthful of goodness and satisfying, beefy flavor!

Ladle full of beef and barley soup shown close up.

Ingredients Needed for Beef Barley Soup

  • Chuck roast – the perfect cut for soups and stew.
  • Olive oil – used for sautéing.
  • Carrots, celery, onion and garlic – these aromatics really build up the base flavor of the soup.
  • Tomato paste – this adds a mellow tomato flavor that pairs well with the beef.
  • Low-sodium chicken broth or beef broth – use which ever you prefer.
  • Soy sauce and Worcestershire – though added in small amounts these really build up the flavor of the broth.
  • Fresh rosemary, thyme and parsley – if you don’t want to pay the higher price for fresh herbs, dried herbs can be substituted, just use 1/3 the amounts listed.
  • Pearl barley – this isn’t always found where you’d expect it at the store. Sometimes it’s by the rice and other grains, possibly in the baking aisle and other times even by the canned soups.

Ingredients that are used to make beef and barley soup.

How to Make Beef Barley Soup on the Stovetop

  1. Dry beef, sear in pot in batches: Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Dab beef dry and add 1/2 or 1/3 of beef, adding just enough not to overcrowd. Season with salt and pepper. Let sear until golden brown on bottom, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook 1 minute longer.
  2. Transfer beef in pot to a plate along with juices and repeat process with remaining beef adding in another 1 Tbsp oil to pot.
  3. Saute veggies: Add 1 Tbsp oil to now empty pot. Add carrots, celery and onion and saute 3 minutes.
  4. Cook tomato paste: Add tomato paste and garlic and saute 1 minute longer.
  5. Add liquids and seasonings: Pour in broth, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Return beef to pot.
  6. Cover and simmer: Bring mixture to a simmer then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until beef is fairly tender, about 45 – 60 minutes.
  7. Add barley and continue to simmer: Add barley and simmer until cooked through and beef is tender, about 45 – 60 minutes longer.
  8. Finish with parsley.

Image showing four steps of making beef and barley soup.

How to Make Beef Barley Soup in the Slow Cooker

  1. Sear the beef in a pot with olive oil.
  2. Transfer beef to a crockpot with the remaining ingredients except parsley.
  3. Cook on low 7 – 8 hours then stir in parsley.

How to Make Beef Barley Soup in the Instant Pot

  1. Select “saute” setting on pressure cooker. Add oil.
  2. Brown beef in 2 – 3 batches. Turn to “off” setting. Return all beef to Instant Pot.
  3. Add remaining ingredients (except parsley) also reduce broth to 7 cups (since it doesn’t really steam off like other cooking methods).
  4. Cover and set valve to “sealing” position. Select “manual mode” and adjust time to 20 minutes.
  5. Once cooking time is up let pressure come down naturally for at least 10 minutes then carefully quick release any remaining pressure.

White pot filled with beef and barley soupCan I Use Another Cut of Beef?

For this recipe, I recommend sticking with a fattier beef like chuck roast because the end result will be more tender. Other cuts of meat like rump are too lean and will end up chewy and dry.

Can I Use Quick Cooking Barley?

That would be fine but let soup simmer about 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender until you add it, it only takes about 10 – 12 minutes to cook. I would avoid quick cooking barley with slow cooker and instant pot methods.

What Sides to Serve with It?

Can Beef and Barley Soup be Frozen?

Yes, this soup can be frozen in an airtight container up to 3 months. Just be sure to allow enough space for it to expand at the top.

Overhead image of beef and barley soup in a serving bowl.

Tips for the Best Beef Barley Soup

  • Cut the veggies somewhat thick, they’ll simmer a long time and those carrots can tend to get too soft.
  • Brown the beef first, this adds a rich layer of flavor.
  • Let the soup simmer low and slow, so beef comes out tender.
  • Saute the tomato paste to help boost flavor and lightly caramelize it.
  • Add barley halfway through simmering for lightly chewy texture.

Possible Variations

  • Replace 1/2 cup of the broth with 1/2 cup dry red wine.
  • Add other vegetables like mushrooms, green beans, canned tomatoes, potatoes or peas. Green beans and peas can be added closer to the end.
  • If adding more veggies you may want a little more broth as well.
  • Add other herbs for more flavor like bay leaves or marjoram. Or try seasoning with Italian seasoning.
  • Use ground beef instead of chuck roast. If doing so add barley in step 6 then skip the second simmer time.
  • Try it with another grain like brown rice or farro instead of barley.
Beef barley soup
5 from 7 votes

Beef Barley Soup

Rich and hearty homestyle Beef Barley Soup! Made with tender chunks of beef roast, nutritious whole grain barley, fresh veggies and a deliciously seasoned broth. A soup that's sure to warm the soul on chilly days!
Makes about 11 cups, or more if water is added at the end.
Servings: 7
Prep30 minutes
Cook2 hours
Ready in: 2 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs chuck roast, trimmed of excess chunks of fat, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped carrots (about 3)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (about 2 ribs)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 large)
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 2 (32 oz) cartons low-sodium chicken broth or beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp minced fresh rosemary, or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 2 tsp minced fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Dab beef dry and add 1/2 or 1/3 of beef, adding just enough not to overcrowd. Season with salt and pepper. Let sear until golden brown on bottom, about 3 minutes then flip and cook 1 minute longer.
  • Transfer beef in pot to a plate along with juices and repeat process with remaining beef adding in another 1 Tbsp oil to pot.
  • Add 1 Tbsp oil to now empty pot. Add carrots, celery and onion and saute 3 minutes.
  • Add tomato paste and garlic and saute 1 minute longer.
  • Pour in broth, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Return beef to pot.
  • Bring mixture to a simmer then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until beef is fairly tender, about 45 - 60 minutes.
  • Add barley and simmer until cooked through and beef is tender, about 45 - 60 minutes longer.
  • Stir in parsley. Serve warm.

Notes

How to Make Beef Barley Soup in the Slow Cooker

  1. Sear the beef in a pot with olive oil.
  2. Transfer beef to a crockpot with the remaining ingredients except parsley.
  3. Cook on low 7 - 8 hours then stir in parsley.

How to Make Beef Barley Soup in the Instant Pot

  1. Select "saute" setting on pressure cooker. Add oil.
  2. Brown beef in 2 - 3 batches. Turn to "off" setting. Return all beef to Instant Pot.
  3. Add remaining ingredients (except parsley) also reduce broth to 7 cups (since it doesn't really steam off like other cooking methods). 
  4. Cover and set valve to "sealing" position. Select "manual mode" and adjust time to 20 minutes.
  5. Once cooking time is up let pressure come down naturally for at least 10 minutes then carefully quick release any remaining pressure.
Nutrition Facts
Beef Barley Soup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 455 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Fat 21g32%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Cholesterol 74mg25%
Sodium 366mg16%
Potassium 1076mg31%
Carbohydrates 40g13%
Fiber 8g33%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 31g62%
Vitamin A 8836IU177%
Vitamin C 15mg18%
Calcium 95mg10%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.