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.

My family could eat soup every night, some of our favorites include cabbage roll soup and chicken tortellini soup. Beef barley soup is also on the list, because it’s simple yet totally satisfying.

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A pot full of beef barley soup made with beef stew meat, barley and vegetables all simmered together.

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!

Seared beef stew meat in a soup pot.

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.

Beef stew meat, carrots, onions and celery in a soup pot.

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.

Beef barley soup with sliced mushrooms and barley stirred in.

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.

A pot of beef barley soup with mushrooms, carrots and celery.

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.

A bowl of beef barley soup topped with chopped parsley.

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

5 from 29 votes

Beef Barley Soup

AuthorSara Welch
A pot full of beef barley soup made with beef stew meat, barley and vegetables all simmered together.
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.
Time
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time2 hours
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Serves 6

Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 371kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 93mg | Sodium: 819mg | Potassium: 1003mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 6120IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 4.6mg

Hello! I’m Sara!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Excellent soup! I didn’t change a thing, and the entire family loved it. I’m sure I’ll be making this again during the fall and winter. Thank you for the delicious recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    I make this soup all the time now. I do add a tsp of ground ginger to mine and I also use no sodium added beef stock. Also I throw parsnips and potato in it with lots of onion carrots and celery.

  3. 5 stars
    I love soup… could literally eat soup every day of the year. This is a great recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  4. 5 stars
    I hate to admit I just bought two cans of barley soup from a favorite brand. This certainly look 1k times better, I am going to try it tomorrow thanks!

  5. 5 stars
    This soup is so delicious. Easy to follow directions and the end result, super tender meat. The barley is soft and tasty. I will make again.

  6. Hi! I would love to try this – but I’m wondering if it can be done in the Instant Pot? I prefer things I can basically leave – but without the time of slow cooker. Thank you!

  7. 5 stars
    I used to go to a deli and get this soup with my mom. I gave this recipe a try and it was delicious! Deli style food at home. Even better the second day!

    1. 5 stars
      This is the best beef barley recipe ever!

      I added a tablespoon of worcestershire sauce and a tablespoon of gravy thickener amd it turned out really good . Slow cooked for 6 hours.

      Everyone at home loved it.

  8. Very tasty beef and barley soup. I love this kind of soup but the store-bought versions always leave me wanting. I used closer to 3lbs of Chuck roast and cubed it myself. Some butchers hide old meat and rough cuts in the packaged cubed stew meat. Dusted with baking soda to encourage browning. Carrots got a little soft so I’d cook them first and pull for the last cook next time but it’s fine. They are just a little soft. I used dried parsley flakes and dried thyme. I used quick cook barley and it took 20 mins to tender. Great recipe and really easy all told.

  9. 5 stars
    Made this and husband and I loved it. It was so delicious a few days later when we finished it off, that we are making it again tonight.

  10. Hi I just have a question. I have never used barley before and the store I bought it at had pot barley not pearl. Does it make a difference and does it require more time to cook? I really like the recipe you have so I wanted to try it but very inexperienced with barley.