This beef barley soup is a hearty comfort meal with tender chunks of beef, plump barley pearls, and perfectly cooked vegetables.
Why You Love This
This classic beef barley soup recipe is supremely beef flavored and packed with healthy vegetables.
It’s relatively inexpensive and easy to make.
Beef and barley soup is a one pot meal-in-one!
It’s a rich, hearty, and delicious soup that satisfies! Comfort food at its best.
It’s easy to make ahead and freezes well.
- Beef – The best beef for this soup is a boneless beef chuck roast but you can use stewing beef also known as stew meat.
- Vegetables – Carrots, celery, and yellow onion.
- Seasonings – Garlic cloves, fresh thyme, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, kosher salt, and black pepper.
- Liquids – Red wine and low sodium beef broth or beef stock. Use low-sodium beef broth to help you control the sodium in the soup. Different broth brands contain varied levels of sodium, so it’s best to add your own salt to taste.
How to Make Beef Barley Soup
Heat a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat, and add two tablespoons of olive oil.
Pat the beef cubes dry with paper towels. Season them with salt and pepper.
Brown the beef on all sides. Do this in batches, don’t overcrowd the pan. Remove the meat to a plate, and set aside.
Browning the beef adds an extra depth of flavor! Do not skip this step. Also, if your celery has leaves, chop those up and add them too. Celery leaves add so much more flavor!
Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the carrots, celery, and onions and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and minced garlic.
Saute for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
Add the red wine, and boil for about 2 minutes while scraping the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan.
Add the browned beef back to the pan with the thyme, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. The beef cubes will not be fall-apart tender at this point.
Add the barley, cover, and simmer for 45-60 minutes until the barley is tender, stirring occasionally.
Barley is done when it is tender yet slightly chewy. This is when the beef should be ultra tender!
Salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the fresh parsley and remove the thyme stems.
I add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. These amounts may not be to your liking, so adjust as needed.
Garnish each bowl with additional minced parsley if desired.
What to Serve with This
- You can purchase a chuck roast and cut it into 1-inch cubes yourself. This is my preference.
- Dice the mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onions) into 1/2-inch chunks. This vegetable beef barley soup simmers for a long while, and you want the veggies to hold up during the cooking time.
- You DO NOT want to use quick-cooking barley in this recipe. The stewing beef needs to cook for a long time to become tender, and quick cooking barley only takes 10 to 12 minutes.
- This is a thick soup (almost stew-like). If it’s too thick for you, add more beef broth until you reach your desired consistency. I don’t recommend adding water because it will dilute the broth flavor you took the time to develop.
- You could add potatoes if desired. If adding potatoes, use waxy potatoes such as Yukon gold, red potatoes, or new potatoes. Russet potatoes will absorb the water and break down.
- Mushrooms make a great addition. I like Baby Bella mushrooms, but button mushrooms will work.
- Try adding different fresh herbs such as rosemary or a bay leaf.
- If you don’t want to use red wine, replace it with 1/2 cup of beef broth.
Barley is a grain that is similar in size and texture to brown rice with a light nutty flavor. There are several different types of barley. We are using pearl barley which is more readily available.
I don’t recommend it, but if that’s all you have, cook the soup for at least 1 1/2 hours before adding the barley. Quick cooking barley only takes 10-12 minutes to cook, and you want the beef to be tender before adding the barley.
You want to use a boneless chuck roast or stew meat that comes already cubed and ready to cook. These cuts of beef are usually tough and need low-slow cooking to become super tender.
Yes. Brown the ground beef, remove it to a plate and continue with the recipe. Once the broth is added, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add the barley and simmer for 45-60 minutes.
You can also use leftover roast.
Yes! You can make this soup ahead without adding the barley, cool it to room temperature, and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready to serve, bring the soup to a boil, add the barley, cover, and reduce to a simmer for 45-60 minutes until the barley is tender.
Yes. Brown the beef, transfer it to the crock pot, add the remaining ingredients, and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours. Be sure to use pearl barley, so it is done at the same time as the meat.
You can brown the meat the night before, let it cool, place it in an airtight container and refrigerate it until the morning. Dice the vegetables, place them in an airtight container and refrigerate. Proceed with the recipe the next morning.
Let the soup cool, place it in an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to 4 days. When reheating, you may need to add more beef broth or water. The barley tends to soak up most of the broth.
Let the soup cool, place it in a freezer safe container, and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and reheat using your desired method. You may need to add more broth or water.
Beef Barley Soup Recipe
- 3 tbsp Olive oil divided
- 2 lbs Chuck roast cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 medium Carrots diced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 large Celery ribs diced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 medium Onion diced
- 1 tbsp Tomato paste
- 4 cloves Garlic minced
- 1/2 cup Red wine
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 6 cups Low-sodium beef broth
- 4 sprigs Fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 3/4 cup Pearl barley
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt more or less to taste
- 1/2 tsp Black pepper more or less to taste
- 1/4 cup Fresh parsley minced
- Heat a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat, and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Pat the beef cubes dry with paper towels. Season them with salt and pepper.3 tbsp Olive oil
- Brown the beef on all sides. Do this in batches, don’t overcrowd the pan. Remove the meat to a plate, and set aside.2 lbs Chuck roast
- Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the carrots, celery, and onions and saute for about 5 minutes, add the tomato paste and minced garlic. Saute for about 30 seconds until fragrant.3 medium Carrots, 2 large Celery ribs, 1 medium Onion, 1 tbsp Tomato paste, 4 cloves Garlic
- Add the red wine, and boil for about 2 minutes while scraping the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan.1/2 cup Red wine
- Add the browned beef back to the pan with the thyme, Worcestershire sauce, and beef broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally. The beef cubes will not be fall apart tender at this point.1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 4 sprigs Fresh thyme, 6 cups Low-sodium beef broth
- Add the barley, cover, and simmer for 45-60 minutes until the barley is tender stirring occasionally. Barley is done when it is tender, yet slightly chewy. This is when the beef should be ultra tender!3/4 cup Pearl barley
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh parsley and remove the thyme stems.1/2 tsp Kosher salt, 1/2 tsp Black pepper, 1/4 cup Fresh parsley