Beef and Barley Soup is a hearty, flavorful, and comforting soup that hits the spot on a cold night! Tender chunks of beef, carrots, celery, and chewy barley all in a fragrant and flavorful broth.
Looking for a similar hearty soup that uses chicken instead? Try this chicken and sweet potato stew.
Why you’ll love it
Hearty and filling – This is a “stick to your bones” kind of soup. It’s full of chunks of beef, vegetables, a rich broth, and plenty of barley.
One pot dinner – This soup is all made in one pot, which means less dishes for you to wash
Makes a large quantity – This is a great soup to make when you need to feed the whole family, and you’ll likely have leftovers.
Freezer friendly – Beef and barley soup freezes great and is perfect to pull out on busy nights when you need a quick dinner.
Ingredients you’ll need
- Beef stew meat – Sold in all or almost all grocery stores. It’s already cubed for you and will save on prep time.
- Onion, celery, and carrots – A classic combination of vegetables used in many soups and stews.
- Garlic – I like to grate the garlic with a microplane zester so it melts into the soup and you don’t have any chunks.
- Tomato paste – adds a rich tomato flavor to the broth.
- Italian seasoning and bay leaves – If you don’t have Italian seasoning, use a combination of oregano, thyme, and rosemary.
- Fresh thyme
- Low sodium soy sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- Canned diced tomatoes
- Low sodium beef broth
- Pearled barley – hulled barley and quick cooking barley can also be used. If using quick cooking add it during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking time.
How to make beef and barley soup
Sear the beef – Add some olive oil to a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven. When the oil is hot, add in the chunks of beef and season with salt and pepper. Let them sear for 2 minutes before flipping them and continuing to sear until they’re browned on all sides, but not cooked through. Once the beef is seared remove it onto a plate.
You’ll likely need to do this in a couple batches. If so, Remove the first batch of beef onto a plate while you sear the second batch.
Sauté the vegetables – If needed, add additional olive oil to the pot and sauté the onion, carrots, and celery for about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add in the garlic, cooking for another minute.
Add ingredients – Add the beef back into the pot along with the tomato paste and stir everything together. Add the remaining ingredients, except the barley, into the pot and stir.
Simmer the soup – Cover the soup with a lid and bring it to a boil. Once the soup is boiling reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 45-60 minutes. You want the beef to cook for a long time so it becomes tender.
Add in the barley – Stir the barley into the soup and cover it with the lid. Let it cook for another 45-60 minutes or until the beef is tender and the barley is cooked. Stir occasionally during the cooking to prevent the soup from sticking to the bottom. It will be quite thick and you may need to add a little broth or water if it starts to stick to the bottom.
What is barley?
Barley is a cereal grain that has a chewy texture and a mild, nutty flavor. It’s most commonly used in soups, stews, and as an ingredient for brewing beer.
While the texture and flavor are similar to brown rice, barley is not gluten-free.
What type of barley is best for soup
You can use hulled barley if you want to keep the benefits of it being a whole grain. Otherwise pearled barley can be used. Pearled barley still has some of the nutrients, but the fiber-containing bran has been removed.
Pearled barley is what I used in the soup and it’s also the most commonly found at the grocery store. You can also use quick cooking barley if you prefer.
What’s the best cut of beef to use for beef and barley soup?
I recommend using either stewing beef. It’s available in all grocery stores and is already cubed for you. Other options include chuck or short rib.
You want to use a cut of beef that has lots of collagen and is considered tough. The reason being, it will be cooking for a long time and as it cooks, the collagen will break down and the meat will go from being tough to tender.
Storage and Freezing
Storage – The soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. After that you’ll want to transfer it to the freezer.
Freezing – Be sure the soup is completely cool before you freeze it. Place the soup in a freezer bag or freezer safe container. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To defrost the soup, place it in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat the soup in the microwave or in a pot on the stove.
More hearty soup recipes
Did you make this Beef and Barley Soup? I’d love if you’d leave a recipe rating and review below.
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 pounds beef stew meat
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 1/2 cups diced carrots
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated or mined garlic
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 8 cups low sodium beef broth
- 2/3 cup uncooked pearled barley
- Chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish (optional)
- Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven and heat it over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot add in half of the beef. Spread it into a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Let it sear untouched for 2 minutes then flip it over and sear all the sides until browned, but not cooked through. Remove the beef onto a plate and repeat with the remaining beef.
- Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the pot and season them with salt and pepper. If there isn’t enough grease from the beef left in the pot add additional olive oil. Sauté for 3-4 minutes and then stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the beef back into the pot with the vegetables. Stir in the tomato paste then add in all of the remaining ingredients except the barley. Stir everything together and cover the pot with a lid. Bring it to a boil and then lower the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 45-60 minutes.
- Stir the uncooked barley into the soup and cover it with the lid. Cook for another 45-60 minutes or until the beef and barley are tender. Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley if desired.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 460Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 108mgSodium: 856mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 6gSugar: 5gProtein: 38g
Nutritional information is an estimate. Please consult a registered dietician for the most accurate nutritional information.