This beef barley soup is a hearty combination of beef, vegetables, barley and mushrooms, all simmered together until tender and flavorful. A hearty dinner option that’s easy to make and freezer friendly.
Whenever I’m looking for a comfort food style meal that I know my family will approve of, I turn to this beef barley soup. It’s got bold flavors, fork tender meat, plenty of veggies and the barley adds such great texture. Kids and adults alike will enjoy this one!
How do you make beef barley soup?
Beef barley soup starts with a few pounds of stew meat, which gets simmered with vegetables until everything is tender. After the meat and veggies are ready, sliced mushrooms and pearl barley are added to the pot to cook until done. Add a sprinkling of parsley and dinner is served!
What is pearl barley?
Pearl barley is a type of barley that has been processed to remove the hull and bran. Pearl barley is faster cooking and has a better texture than unprocessed whole barley, which can sometimes be overly chewy.
Tips for beef barley soup
- I use beef stew meat because it’s inexpensive and convenient. You can also buy a chuck roast and cut it into cubes if you prefer.
- I cut my vegetables on the larger side so that they don’t disintegrate into the soup while the meat is simmering. If you prefer firmer veggies, you can saute them, remove them from the pan, then add them back in halfway through the cook time.
- I typically use button mushrooms, but cremini mushrooms also work well.
- I like to serve beef barley soup with a side of fresh baguette or honey cornbread.
Ground beef and barley soup
Don’t want to wait an hour for your beef stew meat to get tender? Consider using ground beef instead. You’ll get a similar rich flavor with a fraction of the cook time. Substitute 1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef for the stew meat in this recipe.
Freezer Beef Barley Soup
Beef barley soup is the perfect candidate for the freezer. You can either freeze your cooked soup, or you can do it meal prep style where you freeze all of the ingredients in one bag, then thaw everything and cook. Here is my freezer meal beef barley soup recipe.
Slow cooker beef barley soup
This recipe can easily be adapted to use in the slow cooker. Simply brown your beef and vegetables as directed, then place all of the ingredients except the parsley into a crock pot. Cook for 6-8 hours on low, then serve. If you choose to make this soup in the slow cooker, the barley will have a softer texture than the stove top version, but it’s still totally delicious.
Once you try this beef barley soup, you’ll be hooked. It’s an interpretation of the classic recipe that’s anything but ordinary!
More hearty soup recipes
- Stuffed Pepper Soup
- Mexican Chicken Soup
- Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
- Sausage Tortellini Soup
- Chicken Taco Soup
Beef Barley Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 pounds beef stew meat
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 3 large carrots cut into 3/4 inch pieces
- 3 stalks celery sliced
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 8 cups beef broth
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3/4 cup pearl barley
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Season the beef stew meat with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place half of the meat in the pot in a single layer. Cook for 3-5 minutes per side, or until browned. Repeat with remaining meat.
- Remove the meat from the pot and cover to keep warm. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic to the pot. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened.
- At this point you can either leave the veggies in the pot to simmer with the beef, or remove the vegetables and add them back in later. It depends on whether you prefer softer or firmer vegetables in your soup.
- Add the beef, beef broth, bay leaf and thyme to the pot. Bring to a simmer. Cook for 60 minutes or until beef is tender.
- If you've reserved your vegetables, add them back in now. Add the barley and mushrooms to the pot. Cook for an additional 20-30 minutes until barley is tender.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.