This hearty Beef Barley Soup is the ultimate comfort food! Easy to make and loved by the whole family, it’s filled with tender chunks of beef, nutritious veggies, and chewy barley in a comforting beef and tomato broth.
There isn’t one part of this beef and barley soup recipe that I would change. It has everything needed to nourish, comfort, and warm your body from the inside out. It’s a soup recipe my dad would have loved – and one that I wish I could have shared with him.
Beef and barley soup is a hearty, filling soup made with chunks of beef, chewy barley, and a variety of vegetables simmered in a flavorful and delicious tomato beef broth. A meal in itself, this incredible beef and barley soup is just as amazing leftover and reheated the next day (and perhaps even better!)
To make it, plan on spending around one-and-a-half to two hours. You will need to allow enough time for the barley and the beef to cook until completely tender. Trust me, it’s totally worth it!
Ingredients In Beef Barley Soup?
Beef: You’ll need about 2 pounds of beef, although a little extra wouldn’t hurt. Don’t plan on buying the most expensive filet or tenderloin cuts. Chuck roast or beef stew meat are your best bets.
Barley: I used hulled barley because it’s the more nutritious version, but pearl barley will work just as well.
Veggies: I’ve added the classic, go-in-everything mirepoix (onion, celery, carrots) and potatoes. You can also add other veggies like mushrooms, tomatoes, chard, kale, leeks, pumpkin or butternut squash, or green beans.
Waxy vs. starchy potatoes: which should I add to soup?
Not all potatoes are the same. Some are starchy, like russets, and are perfect for baked potatoes and french fries. Others are waxy, like red bliss and Yukon Golds. These waxy potatoes are what we want whenever we are making soup, stews, or casseroles. They’re creamy and dense, have thin skin, and don’t fall apart even after prolonged cooking periods.
How to Make Beef Barley Soup
- Sear the beef in a large Dutch oven to start. Searing the meat is an extra step, but it’s absolutely worth it for extra flavor. Remember to sprinkle browned beef with a couple of tablespoons of flour and continue to cook for a minute or two before removing it from the pot to a clean plate.
- In the same Dutch oven or large pot set over medium heat, start to soften the onions, carrots, and celery. Scrape up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot (those little brown bits are loads of flavor).
- Mix in the potatoes, garlic, fresh herbs, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes.
- Then add the browned beef back to the pot with the beef broth, water, and barley. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for at least one hour, stirring occasionally.
- Once the beef is tender and the barley is cooked, season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Add additional fresh herbs like fresh parsley or fresh thyme, if desired, and serve with a big hunk of crusty bread to soak up all that delicious broth!
- I made this beef barley soup recipe in my Lodge 7.5 quart Dutch oven (my favorite). You will need a pot or Dutch oven of at least the same size.
- Pat the beef dry before seasoning with salt and pepper and browning. This helps guarantee a great sear.
- Sear the beef in a hot pot. Set your pot over high heat – medium-high heat will not be hot enough. You want a deep brown sear on at least one side of your beef cubes.
- Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat thoroughly before serving again.
- You can also make this recipe with other types of meat. Try making it with pork butt (one of my family’s favorite alternatives) or try my Chicken Barley Soup.
Frequently Asked Questions
For this recipe, I’ve added hulled barley. Hulled barley is more nutritious than pearl barley since it still retains the bran layer. It may take a little longer to cook, but it keeps its chewy texture even after prolonged periods of cooking. If you only have pearl barley available, go ahead and use that, it will work just as well.
The best, and most convenient, beef that you can use is stew meat/beef. You can find it pre-cut into large chunks at most major grocery stores. Just be sure to cut the chunks into smaller pieces before cooking. If stewing meat isn’t available, look for beef chuck roast or short ribs.
Yes. Allow your soup to cool to room temperature before transferring it to freezer-safe airtight containers or ziplock bags. Freeze for up to 6 months.
Yes. Add everything to a large slow cooker and cook on high for 5-6 hours or on low for 8 hours.
No, hulled barley is a whole-grain and not gluten-free.
More Beef Recipes
Have you tried making this homemade beef barley soup recipe?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts. And tag me #theforkedspoon on Instagram if you’ve made any of my recipes, I always love to see what you’re cooking in the kitchen.
Beef Barley Soup
- 2 pounds stewing beef - or chuck roast, cut into ¾-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoon olive oil - divided
- 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 large onions - diced
- 4 large carrots - chopped
- 3 stalks celery - chopped
- 2 cups Yukon gold potatoes - chopped into 1-inch cubes (about 3 potatoes)
- 5 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano - minced
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cups low-sodium beef broth - or beef stock
- 6 cups water
- 1 cup hulled barley
- Pat the stewing beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and black pepper.
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven set over high heat. Add the beef to the pot in a single layer (you may need to cook your beef in two batches to prevent overcrowding) and cook just until the beef starts to brown on the outside – about 3-5 minutes.
- Once all the beef has been browned, return all the beef to the pot, reduce heat to medium, and sprinkle with two tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Cook for about a minute, continuously mixing the beef to evenly distribute the flour. Remove the beef to a clean plate and set aside.
- Heat an additional tablespoon of olive oil in the same pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the mirepoix (onions, carrots, celery) and cook for about 10 minutes. Scrape up any brown bit stuck to the bottom of the pot and cook with the vegetables (those brown bits are loaded with yummy flavor!)
- After the vegetables have started to soften, add the cubed potatoes, fresh garlic, fresh oregano, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce. Gently mix to combine.
- Return the seared beef back to the pot and add the beef broth, water, and barley. Mix well to combine and increase to high heat. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add bay leaves. Simmer for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Once the vegetables are soft, the barley is tender, and the beef melts in your mouth, remove from heat and season with additional salt, pepper, and fresh oregano, to taste. Enjoy!
- No hulled barley available? Use 1 cup pearl barley instead.
- Both hulled barley and pearl barley are not gluten-free.
- Gluten-free option – Omit the barley and add a gluten-free option like brown or wild rice, use gluten-free all-purpose flour (or omit altogether), and purchase a certified gluten-free Worcestershire sauce.
- The barley will continue to absorb water even after cooking and your soup will thicken slightly. This will be especially apparent after cooling. To get back the desired soupy consistency you started with originally, simply add water, one cup at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)