Beef Barley Soup
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
This Beef Barley Soup is the ultimate hearty soup recipe! Loaded with tender chunks of beef, vegetables and barley, this flavorful soup is a delicious way to warm up on a cold day.
When you’re craving something warm and comforting for dinner, soup is the answer. And this beef barley soup is sure to become a fast favorite. It’s so flavorful that it’s almost impossible to stop at just one bowl.
There is just so much to love about this beef and barley soup. The beef becomes nice and tender as the soup slowly simmers on the stove. The barley has the perfect chewy bite and helps to bulk up the soup to make it especially satisfying. Mushrooms add umami flavor to complement the beef, and the broth is wonderfully thick, rich and flavorful.
This beef and barley soup has a similar flavor profile to this Vegetable Beef Soup recipe, and I think you’ll love the addition of barley and mushrooms in this recipe. Those of you who like to use an Instant Pot to cook meals will love this Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup recipe.
Beef Barley Soup Recipe Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this beef barley soup, including ingredient notes and suggestions.
- Olive Oil: For browning the meat and sautéing the veggies.
- Beef Stew Meat: I usually use beef stew meat to make this recipe to save time since it’s already cut into chunks. You can use a beef chuck roast and cube it yourself if you prefer.
- Salt and Pepper: To season the beef and flavor the soup.
- Onion, Celery and Carrots: This trio of vegetables, used in many soup recipes, builds flavor.
- Cremini Mushrooms: The mushrooms complement the beefy flavor of the soup, but if you don’t care for them you can leave them out.
- Fresh Garlic: I like to use plenty of fresh garlic to add flavor; here I used 4 medium-large cloves.
- Dried Thyme and Bay Leaves: Thyme has a lovely earthy flavor that works perfectly in this soup.
- Tomato Paste: Adds richness to the broth.
- Beef Broth: I like using beef broth in beef soup recipes to maximize the rich flavors. Chicken broth may be substituted if desired.
- Worcestershire Sauce: Brings umami flavor to complement the beef and mushrooms.
- Pearl Barley: Pearl barley is sold at most grocery stores. Be sure to buy pearled barley, not hulled barley, since they require different cooking times. If your package of barley says it is quick-cooking, add the barley to the pot a bit later to give the beef plenty of time to become tender.
How to Make Beef Barley Soup
Here’s an overview of the simple recipe steps. Find the full recipe with ingredient amounts below.
- Brown the beef. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot. Add the beef cubes and brown them on all sides. Then remove the meat to a clean plate.
- Sauté the veggies. Add the onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms to the pot and cook until they start to soften.
- Add the garlic, dried thyme and tomato paste. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute to cook off the raw garlic and develop the flavors.
- Return the browned beef to the pot, along with any juices from the plate.
- Stir in the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves.
- Simmer the soup, covered, for 45 minutes.
- Stir in the barley. Then replace the lid on the pot and simmer for 45-60 more minutes, until the barley and beef are tender.
Beef Barley Soup Recipe Tips
- The soup is done once the barley and beef are tender. For me, this is usually about 1 hour after stirring in the barley. Even once cooked, barley has somewhat of a chewy bite, which makes it especially delicious.
- After cooking, if the soup is too thick for your liking, stir in more broth. Some of the broth evaporates while the soup cooks, and the barley also soaks up broth as it cooks.
- Before serving the soup, taste it and season it with more salt and pepper, if needed.
- If you’d like to add frozen peas or frozen green beans, stir them in during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Beef barley soup makes a hearty meal served with slices of crusty bread or Garlic Bread and a salad. I suggest pairing it with this Kale Salad, an Italian Salad or this Arugula Salad. If you have a bit more time, we also love to serve homemade Dinner Rolls with soup.
Storage and Reheating Tips
This soup, like many soups, reheats wonderfully and also freezes well. Make a big pot of soup on Sunday and enjoy it for quick meals throughout the week. Or freeze leftover soup to enjoy in the coming months.
- Refrigerator: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Freezer: Once cool, freeze soup in an airtight container for up to 3 months. I like to freeze soup in individual portions to reheat for quick lunches or dinners later on. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- To Reheat: Reheat the soup in a covered pot on the stove over medium heat, until simmering, or reheat individual servings in the microwave. You may wish to stir in some additional broth when reheating since the barley will soak up the broth over time.
Beef Barley Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound beef stew meat*
- ¾ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 6 cups low sodium beef broth, or low sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- ¾ cup pearl barley, rinsed
- chopped fresh parsley, for serving
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the stew beef cubes to the pot and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cook until browned on all sides and then remove the beef to a clean plate.
- Add the onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms to the pot. Cook until the vegetables start to soften, 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the garlic, dried thyme and tomato paste to the pot. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Return the browned beef and any juices from the plate to the pot.
- Add the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir. Bring the soup to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low so that it maintains a low simmer and cover the pot. Cook at a low simmer for 45 minutes.
- Stir in the barley. Cover the pot and simmer for 45-60 more minutes, until the barley and beef are tender.
- Remove and discard bay leaves. Stir in more broth if too much has evaporated while cooking, and warm over medium heat if needed. Adjust the seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed, to taste. Serve, garnished with fresh parsley.
- Instead of beef stew meat, you can use beef chuck roast and cut it into cubes yourself.