Beef Barley Soup is comfort food in a bowl. Healthy, filling and affordable, this nutritious dish is made in one pot and reheats amazingly. What else can you ask for?
Beef and Barley are two of my husband Tim’s favorite things. This soup has been a staple in our home for years and I’m so excited to share it with you! I am positive it will win you over.
If you love the combination of beef and barley, make sure to check out our slow cooker beef and barley recipe as well. It’s the perfect meal to make when you don’t feel like standing in the kitchen.
Ingredients for Beef Barley Soup
- Oil – You can use any of your favorite types. Oil is used to saute your veggies and brown your beef.
- Beef – Oxtail, chuck roast, stew meat or even leftover steak will work perfectly. This is a great recipe to use more affordable cuts of beef, as tough cuts will tenderize greatly during cooking. Also, don’t be afraid to use fattier parts — they will release collagen that will make your soup taste amazing!
Hot Tip: If you prefer, you can always substitute beef for other meats like pork, lamb or chicken. Again, feel free to use cheaper cuts here.
- Vegetables – We love to use carrots, onions, garlic and mushrooms. You could also add celery, bell peppers or any veggies you have hanging out in the fridge.
- Barley – Pearl barley is the best for the soup. Bob’s Red Mill has a great one that can be found in most stores or on Amazon.
- Broth – You can use beef, vegetable, chicken, or bone broth for this soup. Feel free to use your own homemade broth or any packaged variety. In a time pinch, my all-time favorite is Better than Bouillon, a broth concentrate that tastes as good as homemade.
- Seasoning – All you need is the simple stuff. Bay leaves, salt and pepper will do the trick.
How to Make Beef Barley Soup
- In a preheated pot (preferably a dutch oven) with oil, brown the beef cubes on all sides.
- Add diced carrots, onions and mushrooms. Saute until all veggies appear soft and translucent.
- Add salt, pepper, pressed garlic and bay leaves to the mix.
- Pour in beef broth and let it simmer with the lid closed for 45 minutes, until the beef is tender and falling apart.
- Add pearl barley, cook for 20 more minutes. Serve immediately.
Serving Barley Soup
This is a hearty soup that is perfect served all on its own. However, if you are like me, you always want some fresh bread on the side to sop up all that delicious broth. If you are in the mood to bake, here are some of my favorites:
- Easy Dutch Oven No Knead Bread – No-knead bread is extra crispy on the outside and bubbly on the inside.
- Easy Flatbread Recipe – Flatbread is perfect for dipping into your broth! This recipe only takes 30 minutes to whip up.
- French Bread – Fresh, french baguettes are easier to make than you think.
Storing Beef Barley Soup
Beef barley soup is a great dish for meal prep. If you have leftovers, here’s how to store them:
- Refrigerate: Refrigerate your beef barley soup for up to a week in an airtight container. The kicker? This soup gets better as it marinates it itself in the fridge. Hello, delicious leftovers!
- Freezing: Allow your soup to cool down on the countertop. Once it stops steaming, separate it into containers that make sense for your household. Make sure that they can be closed airtight. Place in the freezer and store for up to three months. To reheat, allow a container to thaw in the fridge overnight. Heat the thawed soup in a saucepan or in the microwave until heated through.
Should you cook barley before adding it to beef barley soup?
You don’t have to cook the barley before adding it into the beef barley soup. It’s best to pop it in raw so that it cooks in the broth and releases starch to thicken the soup slightly.
What type of barley is best for beef barley soup?
Pearl barley is best for beef barley soup – it’s hearty and less processed than quick cooking barley. It also doesn’t take anywhere to cook as hulled barley.
What’s the best kind of beef to use for beef barley soup?
The best kind of beef to use for beef barley soup is chuck roast, bone-in short rib, or oxtail are the best for beef barley soup. So long as the cut isn’t too fatty, it will be good.
Does barley get super mushy in beef barley soup?
Barley has a nice firmness to it, so it doesn’t get too mushy as it sits and marinates. It might absorb a good amount of the broth, so feel free to add in a couple of cups of broth to thin the soup out.
Can you make beef barley soup in a slow cooker?
Yes, you can beef barley soup in a slow cooker. Simply brown the meat beforehand and toss all the ingredients in and cook them on high for 3-4 hours. Add the barley in during the last hour so it doesn’t overcook.
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 lb beef cut in cubes
- 8 oz mushrooms chopped
- 1 large carrot chopped
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 garlic cloves pressed
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1/2 cup barley
- 1 tbsp salt adjust to taste
- 1 tsp pepper adjust to taste
- In a preheated pot, brown beef with oil.
- Add onion, carrot and mushrooms to the beef and sauté until veggies turn slightly golden.
- Add salt, pepper, bay leaves and galic to the mix.
- Pour beef broth and allow everything to simmer on medium heat for 45 minutes with the lid on.
- Add barley and cook for 20 more minutes or until it's fully cooked. Serve right away.
Thanks for sharing! Unbelievably tasting soup and so easy to make.
Hi David, I am so thrilled that you love this recipe as much as we do! Thank you for taking the time to leave feedback. Enjoy!
I used cremini mushrooms and a chuck arm roast that I cut up and this was AMAZING! My husband likes this better than his own beef stew!
Hi Mary, I am so thrilled that this recipe was a success! Thank you so much for sharing your process. Enjoy!
This was delicious! My husband who was not sure he would like the barley but I loved it and asked for it the next day! I would not put in a tablespoon of salt next time - way too salty. The broth already has salt so really not much more needed. You can always add salt at the end if need. Just FYI.
Hi Cindi, I am thrilled that the recipe was a success! I appreciate your feedback, Thank you!
My family LOVED this soup! Even my picky toddler ate a pretty good sized bowl of it. Love how easy it is to make and how delicious it is. Thank you!!
Hi Margarita, I am so thrilled to hear that! I love it when my recipes get the thumbs up from the pickiest of eaters, TODDLERS!
Made it today in my Instant Pot! Was delicious. I had cut down the salt but would cut it down to a tsp instead of the requested tablespoon, found it a little salty. Otherwise, it was absolutely delish and will make it again!
Hi Anne, So glad to hear the recipe worked out for you! I love how you adjusted the recipe to fit your taste better! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review! Enjoy!
I prepped the vegetables on Saturday night, adding celery. After I got home from church on Sunday, all I needed to do was cook the meat and already chopped veggies. Just the aroma alone of the simmering soup was comforting! I served it with French bread. Delicious! A perfect late October comfort meal. Thank you!
Hi Gwen, Thank you so much for sharing your process. I am glad to hear that the recipe was a success Enjoy!
Taste is excellent; however, I needed to add 4 more cups of beef broth and another carrot.
Hey Desiree, maybe it was simmering on too high of a heat. Also, you can make it more liquidy with more broth. Thanks for sharing that feedback!
Making this tonight. I can already taste it, just from reading the ingredients list. Question: how would you modify this recipe for
The instant pot?
Hi there Alix, I have not made This soup in an instant pot. If you try that, I would love to know how it turned out.
What do you think about a little red wine?
Hi Michelo- I haven't tried adding it to this recipe but I feel like it could work! Probably add it after step 3 and let it cook down a bit before adding the broth. If you give it a go, let us know what you thought of it!
Great soup, just like mom used to make. Can I suggest that you update the recipe to mention covering the pot? I didn’t do this and had to add lots of extra water during the cooking. I see from other comments that you do cover the pot and that those of us who don’t have had to add extra liquid.
I covered the pot and still needed to add more liquid.
Hello, Jeff. So glad you enjoyed the soup! Regarding the instructions on covering the pot while cooking the soup- it is mentioned earlier in the blog post, but not in the step by step instructions. We're going to update this to make it more clear. Thank you for bringing it to our attention! Take care!
Thanks for this recipe! I made it last night in the Dutch oven I bought myself for Christmas. It was a big hit with my husband. I used beef bone broth. The flavor was awesome and the stew beef I used was perfectly tender.
Sounds like an amazing dinner, Cathy! What a great Christmas gift to yourself- a new dutch oven! Thank you for commenting!
This soup is amazing! I didn't gave enough Chuck roast so I cut up 2 Ribeyes and threw bones in there also it was yummy.
Thank you for sharing, Lisa! I'm happy you enjoyed this soup.
What kind of beef do you use? Steak… roast? Thanks!
Hi Harli - You can use chuck roast, stew meat, or even oxtail. Hope this helps! Happy New Year!
I used venison. Lean and great tasting.
Hi Deb! Thank you so much for letting me know! I am glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe!
Thanks so much ❤️
Of course! Hope you enjoy the soup. 🙂
Very good and easy. I did find it a little salty so will adjust next time. Family loved it.
Ahh! Salt is one of those things that we all have a different taste for. Happy you liked it overall! Happy New Year.
Love this recipe! So many of your recipes have become go-to recipes for my family. Thank you for adding so much to my recipe box!
That's the best compliment I could receive, Lauren! Thank you. Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!
perfect for a rainy day in san diego,i use maggi for taste
Yes! So good for winter nights 🙂
I made this tonight and I loved it. This is a keeper for sure. Thank you
Hey James, I'm glad you enjoyed it too, it really is such a comforting and delicious recipe! Thank you for taking the time to comment!
Making for dinner tonight, 3rd time making it. Absolutely love it.
It goes very fast, never much left. If I was making it for more people I would double the recipe.
Sharon, I'm so glad you enjoyed this soup recipe, thank you for your feedback!
Thank you very much 🙂
This is fabulous as-is, and also is a great recipe to play with. I use boneless short ribs for the beef, and the result is a silky mouth feel that can’t be beat. I also found I can cut back on the amount of beef whenI use the short ribs-just a pound and a half is plenty. We like garlic, and clove size isn’t consistent so I went with 4. Wanting more of a stew than soup, the second time I made it, I increased carrots to 2; doubled the mushrooms, and increased barley to 3/4 cup. The next time, I did all that, and added about 1/2 cup or so of red wine with the broth.
Your tips are so great. I am excited to give your version a try. Thank you for taking the time to share!
Way too much salt,should be 1 tsp.? Also, needed 4-6 cups more beef broth.
Barbara, you can adjust salt to taste. Depending on the type. of salt you use, you may need a different amount. The amount of broth is accurate.
used 1/2 cup of barley and cooked it for 25 minutes, it didn't "plump" up like the photo..any reason why
Hey Priscilla, it must be the brand of barley you used.
It might be the type of barley you use too. I never use instant barley and I always use pearl barley. I add mine into the pot in the beginning. By the way, this is a great recipe. I tweak it a bit, but thanks for putting it out there!
Hi Martha - Good point! So happy you liked the recipe and tweaked it to make it your own. That's the way cooking should be! 🙂
Hi. What is the size of each of the 8 servings? Thanks!
Hey Stephanie, about 1.5 cups. Hope you love it!
Been waiting for a good recipe for Beef Barley soup. I would add a little celery too. I am going to make some soup this weekend. Thank you for sharing your recipe.
I love the addition of celery, a great veggie for any soup. I hope you love the recipe. Please circle back and let me know.
Hi There, you mention to use Better Than Bouillon. How much do you recommend for this recipe? Do I also use the beef broth with it? Thank you.
Hey, If I am using beef broth, I skip out on Better Than Bullion. You can do a combination of water and 1 Tbsp of Better Than Bullion as well.
Made this for dinner tonight. Looks and smells great. Can’t wait for 6 pm
Nancy, I hope your dinner was amazing! Enjoy it.
Always.... Always add celery!
Lisa, lol, my husband would agree with you, he loves celery! Great for you too.
Making this tonight looks delicious! Should I drain the grease after browning the meat?
What temperature or setting do you initially preheat the pot? Also while it simmers for 45 minutes should it be covered? Thanks!
Hey Ellen, I bring it to high temperature and turn down the heat as it boils. I keep it covered but leaving space on a side for steam to evaporate.
Can you cook this in a slow cooker?
Hi Priscilla, yes you can, I am not 100% sure for how long, just keep an eye on it.
With most soups and stews, use High setting and figure about 4 1/2-5 hours.The best thing is to always brown any meat before you slow cook so it keeps it tasting very good. The barley is key. It needs to cook through.
What is substitute for barley?
Hey dear, you can also use brown rice. Enjoy