Beef Barley Soup Recipe


Beef barley soup is a beloved comfort food that warms the soul with its rich broth, tender beef, and hearty barley. This wholesome dish is perfect for chilly days when you crave something nourishing and satisfying. In this article, we’ll explore a delicious beef barley soup recipe that’s easy to make and bursting with flavor.

Why Choose Beef Barley Soup?

  1. Nutritious and Filling: Beef barley soup is packed with protein from the beef and fiber from the barley, making it a satisfying and nutritious meal option.
  2. Budget-Friendly: This soup is made with simple and affordable ingredients, making it an economical choice for feeding a crowd or meal prepping for the week.
  3. Versatile: You can customize beef barley soup with your favorite vegetables and seasonings, making it a flexible recipe that can easily adapt to your taste preferences.
  4. Freezer-Friendly: Beef barley soup freezes well, allowing you to make a large batch and store individual portions for later. It’s a convenient option for busy weeknights when you need a quick and easy meal.


  • 1 pound (450g) stewing beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)


  1. Brown the Beef: In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef cubes and cook until browned on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the beef from the pot and set it aside.
  2. Sauté the Vegetables: In the same pot, add the diced onion, carrots, and celery. Sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute until fragrant.
  3. Combine Ingredients: Return the browned beef to the pot. Add the pearl barley, beef broth, water, diced tomatoes (with their juices), bay leaves, and dried thyme. Stir to combine everything evenly.
  4. Simmer the Soup: Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1-1.5 hours, or until the beef is tender and the barley is cooked through. Stir occasionally and skim off any foam or fat that rises to the surface.
  5. Season to Taste: Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the seasoning as needed, adding more salt and pepper if desired.
  6. Serve: Ladle the beef barley soup into bowls and garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if desired. Serve hot with crusty bread or crackers for a comforting and satisfying meal.

Serving and Storage Tips for Beef Barley Soup:


  1. Garnish Before Serving: Before serving, garnish each bowl of beef barley soup with a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley or a dash of dried herbs for added flavor and visual appeal. This enhances the presentation of the soup and adds a pop of color.
  2. Serve with Bread: Accompany the beef barley soup with crusty bread, dinner rolls, or garlic bread for dipping. The bread helps to soak up the delicious broth and complements the hearty flavors of the soup.
  3. Add a Squeeze of Lemon: For a bright and zesty touch, squeeze a wedge of lemon over each serving of beef barley soup just before eating. The acidity of the lemon adds a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors of the soup.
  4. Pair with a Side Salad: Balance the richness of the soup with a crisp green salad dressed in vinaigrette. A side salad adds freshness and lightness to the meal, making it more well-rounded and satisfying.


  1. Cool Completely Before Storing: Allow any leftover beef barley soup to cool completely at room temperature before storing it. Placing hot soup directly in the refrigerator can raise its internal temperature and promote bacterial growth.
  2. Use Airtight Containers: Transfer the cooled beef barley soup to airtight containers or resealable plastic bags for storage. Make sure the containers are sealed tightly to prevent air from entering, which can cause the soup to spoil faster.
  3. Refrigerate Promptly: Place the sealed containers of beef barley soup in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Store them on the refrigerator shelves rather than the door, as the temperature is more consistent there.
  4. Consume Within 3-4 Days: Beef barley soup can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Be sure to consume it within this timeframe to enjoy it at its best quality and flavor.
  5. Freeze for Longer Storage: If you have leftover soup that you won’t be able to consume within a few days, consider freezing it for longer storage. Transfer the soup to freezer-safe containers or resealable bags and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.

By following these serving and storage tips, you can ensure that your beef barley soup remains delicious and fresh for enjoyment throughout the week.

Variations of Recipe:

1. Vegetable Beef Barley Soup:

  • Increase the amount of vegetables in the soup by adding diced potatoes, green beans, peas, or corn. This variation adds extra texture, flavor, and nutritional value to the dish, making it perfect for vegetarians or those looking to increase their vegetable intake.

2. Mushroom Beef Barley Soup:

  • Add sliced mushrooms to the soup for a rich and earthy flavor. You can use a variety of mushrooms such as button mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, or shiitake mushrooms to add depth to the dish. Consider sautéing the mushrooms with onions and garlic before adding them to the soup for extra flavor.

3. Tomato Beef Barley Soup:

  • Incorporate diced tomatoes or tomato paste into the soup for a tangy and robust flavor profile. The acidity of the tomatoes balances out the richness of the beef and barley, creating a deliciously comforting soup that’s reminiscent of classic tomato soup with a hearty twist.

4. Spicy Beef Barley Soup:

  • Add a kick of heat to the soup by including diced jalapeños, crushed red pepper flakes, or a splash of hot sauce. Adjust the amount of spice according to your taste preferences to create a fiery variation of the soup that’s sure to warm you up on chilly days.

5. Beef Barley Vegetable Stew:

  • Transform the soup into a thick and hearty stew by reducing the amount of broth and adding additional vegetables and barley. Simmer the stew until it reaches a thick and chunky consistency, perfect for serving over mashed potatoes or crusty bread for a comforting meal.


1. Can I use a different type of meat instead of beef in beef barley soup?

  • Absolutely! While beef is traditional, you can use other meats such as chicken, turkey, or even lamb for a different flavor profile. Adjust the cooking time accordingly based on the type of meat you choose.

2. Is pearl barley the only type of barley I can use?

  • No, pearl barley is the most commonly used variety for soups due to its shorter cooking time and softer texture. However, you can also use hulled barley or quick-cooking barley, adjusting the cooking time as needed.

3. Can I make beef barley soup in a slow cooker?

  • Yes, beef barley soup can be made in a slow cooker for added convenience. Simply brown the beef and sauté the vegetables before transferring everything to the slow cooker with the remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours until the beef is tender and the barley is cooked through.

4. How do I make beef barley soup thicker?

  • To thicken beef barley soup, you can add a slurry of cornstarch or flour mixed with water during the last 30 minutes of cooking. Alternatively, you can blend a portion of the soup with an immersion blender or food processor and return it to the pot for a thicker consistency.

5. Can I freeze beef barley soup?

  • Yes, beef barley soup freezes well. Allow the soup to cool completely before transferring it to freezer-safe containers or resealable bags. Freeze for up to 3 months, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave before serving.

6. How can I make beef barley soup gluten-free?

  • To make beef barley soup gluten-free, use gluten-free barley or substitute it with another gluten-free grain such as rice or quinoa. Additionally, ensure that all other ingredients such as broth and seasonings are certified gluten-free.

7. Can I add wine to beef barley soup?

  • Yes, adding a splash of red wine to beef barley soup can enhance the flavor and depth of the broth. Choose a dry red wine such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon and add it during the cooking process, allowing it to simmer and reduce slightly.

8. Can I make beef barley soup in advance?

  • Yes, beef barley soup tastes even better the next day as the flavors have time to meld together. Make the soup in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days, reheating it on the stovetop or in the microwave before serving.

9. Can I add beans to beef barley soup?

  • Absolutely! Adding beans such as kidney beans, black beans, or cannellini beans can add protein, fiber, and texture to beef barley soup. Rinse and drain canned beans before adding them to the soup during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

10. Can I make beef barley soup vegetarian?

  • Yes, you can make a vegetarian version of beef barley soup by omitting the beef and using vegetable broth instead of beef broth. Increase the amount of vegetables and barley to make the soup more filling and flavorful.


Beef barley soup is a timeless classic that never fails to delight with its hearty flavors and comforting warmth. With simple ingredients and easy preparation, it’s a dish that’s perfect for cozy nights in or sharing with loved ones. So why not whip up a batch of this delicious soup and savor the goodness of homemade comfort food?

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