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5 from 2 votes
Overhead shot of a bowl of beef barley soup on a wooden table
Beef Barley Soup
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 40 mins
Total Time
1 hr 50 mins

This old-fashioned Beef Barley Soup is a healthy and cozy lunch or dinner for cool nights!

Course: Lunch or Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beef barley soup, homemade soup
Servings: 14 cups
Calories: 165.6 kcal
Author: Blair
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, NOT drained
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup quick barley (or see note below to use regular pearled barley)
  • Salt and pepper
  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Season beef with salt and pepper, to taste. When the oil shimmers, add the beef and brown on all sides (it doesn’t need to be cooked through – just make sure it gets nice color on the outside) – about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the pot and set it aside (leave the fat in the pot).
  2. Add the carrots, celery and onion to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Scrape up all of the flavorful beef bits from the bottom of the pot as you stir! Add mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring, for one more minute. Stir in the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves and broth. Return the beef to the pot. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

  3. Increase the heat and bring soup to a boil. As soon as the soup boils, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour (or until beef is tender). Add the quick barley, cover, and simmer for 10-15 more minutes (or until barley is tender).
  4. Taste the soup and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  5. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.
Recipe Notes
  • This recipe calls for "quick barley" which cooks in about 10-15 minutes. You can also substitute with regular pearled barley if you prefer. If using regular pearled barley (instead of “quick barley”), you will need to add some extra cooking time at the end. Regular barley requires at least 30 minutes to simmer in the soup, so just plan accordingly.
  • Beef stew meat is ideal for this recipe, but you can substitute with diced chuck or short rib. These affordable cuts become very tender when cooked low-and-slow in a simmering soup!
  • This soup is not gluten-free, since barley contains 5-8 percent gluten.
  • Make Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup! Brown the beef in a pot or skillet, as instructed, and then transfer to a slow cooker. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the quick barley) and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours. At the end of cooking, turn the slow cooker to HIGH and stir in the quick barley. Cover and cook for about 10-15 more minutes, or until barley is tender. If using regular pearled barley in the slow cooker, you can add the barley at the beginning of the cooking time (when you add all of the other ingredients).
  • Have leftovers? The soup will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • Can you freeze Beef Barley Soup? Yes! To freeze, allow the soup to cool to room temperature and then package in airtight containers. The soup will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Nutrition Facts
Beef Barley Soup
Amount Per Serving (1 cup)
Calories 165.6 Calories from Fat 42
% Daily Value*
Fat 4.7g7%
Saturated Fat 1.3g8%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.7g
Cholesterol 42.9mg14%
Sodium 392.5mg17%
Potassium 179.3mg5%
Carbohydrates 13.5g5%
Fiber 2.6g11%
Sugar 2.7g3%
Protein 18.2g36%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.