Beef Barley Soup is dinner at its most earnest. Fall-apart tender beef, root vegetables, and nutty barley slow-simmered in a rich tomato-based sauce, it’s the sort of no-fuss dinner meant for a night of cozy conversation.

Beef barley soup with carrots in a bowl

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Humble soup vegetable beef barley soup is hearty, budget-friendly (it stretches to feed a crowd), and is just the sort of recipe for a laid-back evening with people you love.

Like all great beef soup recipes (Crock Pot Beef Stew; Beef Bourguignon; Crockpot Vegetable Beef Soup) it does require some up-front vegetable chopping and batch searing, but the rewards of it simmering gently on the stove, then warming your belly are well worth it.

Save this recipe for a chilly day.

Winter isn’t done, and mushroom beef barley soup makes it so much more bearable.

A pot of beef barley soup

5 Star Review

“Just made this soup, as written. It is amaze! The seasoning is perfect. Serving with Drop Cheddar Biscuits.”

— Gayle Percival —

How to Make Best Beef Barley Soup Recipe

This classic beef barley soup is thick, comforting, and thanks to a plethora of vegetables, it acts as an all-in-one meal.

Barley is a powerhouse whole grain with filling fiber, root vegetables bring nutrition, and the protein from the beef will keep you satisfied.


The Ingredients

  • Beef. Inexpensive cuts of beef with connective tissue and fat are best for slow cooking soups, like beef barley soup. Try chuck roast or top or bottom round roast.

Substitution Tip

Stew meat also works for beef barley soup, though I find it less preferable because the pieces are different sizes and come from different cuts, meaning they cook in different amounts of time.

  • Pearled Barley. Barley is a cereal grain that is high in fiber and vitamins. It has a slightly firm and pleasant texture and subtle, nutty flavor. Like other grains, you can use it in soups, salads, or enjoy it on its own. As with other grain soups (like Crock Pot Chicken and Rice Soup) adding barley is an excellent way to bulk them up and stretch your dollar.

Ingredient Note

“Pearled” barley means that the barley has the outer husk layer and bran layer removed. It’s lighter in color and cooks faster than other types of barley, making it ideal for soups like this one. Most of the barley sold in the United States is pearled.

If you’re interested in trying another barley recipe, check out my Barley Risotto.

Easy beef barley soup in a bowl
  • Veggies. Celery, carrots, onion, parsnip, and mushrooms add flavor, texture, and nutrition to this soup.
  • Beef Stock or Broth. With deep flavor, low sodium beef broth or stock makes an excellent liquid base. It also helps deglaze the pan, ensuring all those tasty browned bits (a.k.a. flavor!) are incorporated into the soup. Chicken broth works as well.

Irish Beef Barley Soup

For an Irish twist on this recipe, swap 12 ounces of the beef stock for Guinness or another dark beer of your choice and use potatoes in place of parsnips.

Rich and comforting beef barley soup in a pot
  • Tomato Paste. Adds rich, simmered all day flavor to the soup.
  • Worcestershire. For a touch of umami.
  • Red Wine Vinegar. A hit of acidity that wakes up all the flavors.
  • Smoked Paprika. Adds a delicious smokiness to the soup.
  • Herbs. I incorporated dried thyme, bay leaves, and fresh parsley into the soup. They add scrumptious earthy, herby flavor and depth. For fresh herbs you can go with sprigs of thyme.

The Directions

Chuck roast cubes in a pot
  1. Season and sear the beef, then transfer it to a plate.
Chopped vegetables being cooked in a pot
  1. Sauté the onion, celery, and mushrooms. Add the garlic, tomato paste, Worcestershire, paprika, and thyme.
Vegetables in a pot
  1. Stir in the root vegetables, beef, stock, and bay leaves. Cook beef barley soup for 1 1/2 hours, adding the barley halfway through.
Mushroom beef barley soup in a pot
  1. Remove the bay leaves. Add the parsley and vinegar. ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate soup in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge. 
  • To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave. 
  • To Freeze. Beef barley soup is excellent for freezing. Let it cool, then freeze in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Meal Prep Tip

Up to 1 day in advance, cut the beef and chop the vegetables. Refrigerate each item in a separate airtight storage container until you’re ready to finish the recipe.

What to Serve with Barley Soup

A bowl of beef barley soup with herbs

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Dutch Oven. Perfect for preparing this beef barley soup.
  • Chef’s Knife. Make chopping a breeze with a sharp chef’s knife.
  • Ladle. The easiest and cleanest way to transfer soups to bowls.

The Best Dutch Oven

From stovetop to oven to table, this beautiful Dutch oven works like a dream. It’s heavy-duty and will last a lifetime.

Beef barley soup with carrots in a bowl

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Beef barley soup is a big bowl of cozy.

Invite it into your home and feel the warmth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Cook Barley Before Adding It to Soup?

For a thick, rich soup and barley that is fully flavored, do not cook barley before adding it to soup. Instead, cook the barley directly in the soup’s liquid so that it absorbs more flavor and helps to thicken the soup.

Is Barley Gluten Free?

No, barley is not gluten free. If you need your meal to be gluten free, I recommend trying one of my delicious gluten free recipes.

What if I Can’t Find Barley?

If you’re unable to find barley at your grocery store, you could experiment with swapping in arborio rice or farro instead; brown rice might work too. Make note of their cook times, as they will likely differ from the barley. I haven’t made this soup with any of these grains, so you’d be experimenting.

Can You Overcook Barley?

Yes. When overcooked, barley will become mushy. As with pasta, you want the barley to be al dente. Plan on about 45 minutes cook time for pearled barley.

Can I Make this in a Crock Pot?

While I haven’t tried it myself, I think it would work well! I’d recommend following the browning steps as written for the beef and vegetables (through Step 6). Then, transfer the beef and veggies to the slow cooker, add the stock and bay leaf, and cook it on LOW for 4 to 6 hours or HIGH for 2 to 4 hours. Try adding the barley halfway through cooking time to make sure it’s not overdone. 

Can I Make this in a Pressure Cooker?

Using your instant pot would change up the cooking time by a lot. While I haven’t tried it myself, I think it would work well! You could experiment with it. See this Instant Pot Chicken and Rice and Instant Pot Beef Stew for starting points.

Beef Barley Soup

5 from 2 votes
Hearty classic beef barley soup is healthy comfort food! Tender beef, vegetables, and nutritious barley make it a satisfying budget meal.

Prep: 45 mins
Cook: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 45 mins

Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds boneless chuck roast
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 4 carrots
  • 2 parsnips
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 16 ounces sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 8 cups beef stock or chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions
 

  • Cut the beef into 3/4-inch cubes, discarding any tough pieces of fat or gristle. Place in a bowl and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Stir to coat. Let stand at room temperature while you chop the vegetables (this will help the beef soften).
  • Chop the vegetables: dice the onion and celery. Peel the carrots and parsnips and cut into ½-inch chunks. Mince the garlic.
  • In a Dutch oven or similar large, sturdy pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add as many pieces of beef as will fit in a single layer. Cook on all sides until the beef is well browned, about 8 minutes. Remove to a plate. Repeat with remaining batches, adding more oil to the pan if it seems dry. Do not crowd the pot, or the beef will not brown properly.
  • Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, celery, and mushrooms. Saute until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary so that the vegetables do not burn.
  • Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, Worcestershire, smoked paprika, and thyme. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  • Stir in the carrots and parsnips, coating them with the cooking oils and spices.
  • Return the beef to the pot. Pour in the stock. Add the bay leaf.
  • Increase the heat to medium high and bring the liquid to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and partially cover the pot. Let simmer for 45 minutes, until the beef is fairly tender.
  • Stir in the barley and remaining ½ teaspoon black pepper. Continue to simmer over low, partially covered, until the barley is tender, about 45 minutes more.
  • Remove the bay leaves. Stir in the parsley and vinegar. If the soup is thicker than you would like, thin it with additional water as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Notes

  • TO STORE: Refrigerate soup in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days. 
  • TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave. 
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze soup in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 6)Calories: 592kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 43gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 104mgPotassium: 2107mgFiber: 12gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 7684IUVitamin C: 26mgCalcium: 151mgIron: 7mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. Just made this soup, as written. It is amazeballs! The seasoning is perfect. Serving with Drop Cheddar Biscuits.5 stars

  2. I made this recipe today for the first time. I followed it exactly and it came out perfectly. So rich and delicious. I will be making this again and again!5 stars

  3. Way too many Ads on this page – completely disinterested!

    I jumped straight to the feedback section… what a shame.

    1. I’m truly sorry for any inconvenience the ads caused you! I will certainly keep paying close attention to the number of ads and how they load, as I never want them to hinder your ability to view the recipe or the blog post. I do truly appreciate your feedback and apologize again for the inconvenience! Also, there is a quick and convenient “jump to recipe” button that will help you get to the recipe faster and a print button to have the recipe quickly at your fingertips. Hope this helps!