Beef Barley Soup

published Sep 28, 2021
Beef Barley Soup Recipe

Packed with tons of veggies, a wholesome bowl of beef barley soup is the definition of warmth and comfort.

Serves6 to 8

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes

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Beef Barley Soup, in a bowl, with a silver spoon to the right, and a light blue and white striped napkin above, along with the corner of another bowl of soup.
Credit: Kelli Foster

Just the thought of dipping my spoon into a warm, hearty bowl of beef barley soup feels like pure comfort. The bite-sized chunks of juicy beef that melt in your mouth, the tender grains of barley, the thick-cut vegetables, the rich and silky tomato-kissed broth — it’s what comfort tastes like. And this classic soup is my go-to anytime I’m craving a cozy meal that’s guaranteed to warm me up from the inside out.

Do You Cook Barley Before Adding to Soup?

Nope! The barley cooks in the soup while it simmers. This means that not only does the barley cook up to be tender, but it’s also infused with all the flavors and aromatics in the soup.

What Type of Beef Is Best for Beef Barley Soup?

Save the pricey cut of beef for another time: An inexpensive pack of beef chuck is what we recommend for beef barley soup. This tough, collagen-rich cut of beef is ideal for the nearly hour-long cook time. Where lean cuts of beef would turn tough and chewy, bite-sized pieces of collagen-rich beef chuck remain tender and juicy.

You’ll need one-and-a-half pounds of beef for the soup, and when it comes to buying it, you have a couple of options.

  • Beef chuck roast: One larger cut of beef
  • Beef chuck steak: Cut from a beef chuck roast and usually about 1-inch thick
  • Beef chuck stew meat: Meat is cut into 1- to 2-inch cubes

Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll start by cutting the beef into 1/2-inch cubes.

Best Vegetables to Include in Beef Barley Soup

This recipe calls for a basic mix of aromatics, including yellow onion, carrot, celery, and a can of diced tomatoes. 

If you want to pack more veggies into the pot, go for it. Leeks are a nice addition either in place of or in addition to the onion. Sliced mushrooms are a natural partner to beef and would work well here, and could be sautéed along with the aromatics. Leafy greens would be a nice addition, stirred into the pot in the final minutes of cooking. 

Credit: Kelli Foster

Can Beef Barley Soup Be Frozen?

Yes! Beef barley soup freezes (and, more importantly, reheats) beautifully. The soup will keep for about four days in the fridge, and up to three months in the freezer. Store it in one large airtight container or portion it into smaller containers for individual meals. When you’re ready to eat, thaw the soup in the fridge overnight and reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Beef Barley Soup Recipe

Packed with tons of veggies, a wholesome bowl of beef barley soup is the definition of warmth and comfort.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 3

    medium carrots

  • 3 medium stalks

    celery

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 1 1/2 pounds

    boneless beef chuck (stew meat, steak, or roast)

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    dried thyme

  • 1 tablespoon

    tomato paste

  • 2 (32-ounce) boxes

    low-sodium beef broth

  • 1 (14-ounce) can

    diced tomatoes

  • 3/4 cup

    pearl barley

  • 1

    dried bay leaf

  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the following, adding each to the same medium bowl as you complete it: Dice 1 medium yellow onion, peel and slice 3 medium carrots into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, and slice 3 medium celery stalks into 1/4-inch pieces. Finely chop 2 garlic cloves.

  2. Cut 1 1/2 pounds beef chuck into 1/2-inch pieces. Pat dry with paper towels and season with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large stockpot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of the beef in a single layer and cook until browned but not cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with browning the remaining beef, then transfer to the plate.

  4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, and remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds more.

  5. Add 1 tablespoon tomato paste and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook until darkened in color, about 1 minute. Return the beef and any accumulated juices to the pot and add 2 boxes low-sodium beef broth, 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes and their juices, 3/4 cup pearled barley, 1 dried bay leaf. Stir to combine and bring to a boil over high heat.

  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until the barley is tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Meanwhile, coarsely chop 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves.

  7. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the parsley, and serve.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.