Beef and Barley Soup

6 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes

Easy Beef and Barley Soup recipe is a comforting one-pot dinner full of tender beef, hearty vegetables, plump barley and rich flavors.

Classic delicious Soup Recipes, like this Barley Soup, are the ultimate comfort food. Similar to Slow Cooker Vegetable Beef Soup, this dish is a hearty meal perfect for cool fall and winter nights. It is made on the stove top but it can just as easily be a slow cooker recipe or pressure cooker recipe.

About our Beef and Barley Soup Recipe

Rich Beef Barley Soup is sure to be a favorite winter recipe. It’s easy to make, packed with flavor, and will warm you right up. Serve it with some Classic Dinner Rolls or Crusty French Bread for dipping and enjoy the easiest, most comforting one-pot dinner ever.

What is Beef and Barley Soup?

Beef Barley Soup is an old fashioned recipe made with tender stew meat, vegetables, and pearl barley. This whole grain is chewy, nutty and hearty, making this tasty filling soup a perfect dinner on a cold winter night. It is classic traditional comfort food made with ancient grains that stands the test of time because it’s absolutely delicious! 

Beef and Barley Soup Ingredients

  • Beef Stew Meat: The main ingredient is this delicious beefy stew is of course 2 pounds of stew meat. Stew meat is usually made from cuts of beef like round or beef chuck roast that has tough connective tissues. As the meat cooks slowly in the broth, the tissue breaks down for succulent, flavorful and tender beef. To lock in the juices and make sure it breaks down, you first sear the meat in a tablespoon of vegetable oil.
  • Beef Broth: For maximum flavor, this soup is made with 8 cups beef broth instead of water. A good quality concentrated beef stock (like Better than Bouillon) is especially great for beef stews because you can add an extra spoonful for intense beefy flavor.
  • Barley: 2/3 cup pearl barley might not seem like a lot in the pot, but it plumps up as it cooks so your soup is very filling and hearty. Barley is rich in fiber, vitamins, and helps keep you full without many calories. Barley makes a great add-in to any soup recipes because the chewy, soft grain has a light nutty taste that goes great with savory flavor.
  • Veggies: First you saute yellow onion in the beef fat to release its sweet, earthy aromatic flavor to boost the overall flavor profile. For this soup you add the celery and carrots last so they soften slightly but keep  their texture and garden fresh flavor.
  • Seasonings: Since there is so much flavor in the beef stew meat, broth, and veggies, the seasonings are kept pretty basic. You just need 2 teaspoons dried thyme and salt and pepper to taste to enhance the savory flavors.

Kitchen Tools & Equipment

  • Dutch Oven: A heavy bottom pot like a dutch oven is great for meaty soups and stews because you can sear the meat in the pot then add your broth to deglaze all the goodness. Everything gets cooked in one pot for deeper flavor.
  • Chef’s Knife: Every kitchen should have a good quality chef’s knife. First you use it to dice all your vegetables then you can use it to break down tough cuts of meat like chuck roast with ease.

How to Make Beef and Barley Soup

Time needed: 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Although Beef Barley Soup is a little time consuming, it’s still quite easy to make. Most of the cooking time is just a matter of letting the barley, beef, and other ingredients simmer together.

  1. Sear the Meat

    Add oil to your dutch oven over high heat. Cut the beef into bite-sized pieces, and slice the onion. Season the meat with salt and pepper, then sear it on all sides. This should only take about 8-10 minutes. Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes until they’re translucent.

  2. Start the Broth

    Add in the broth, barley, and thyme to the pan, using the broth to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Once the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low.

  3. Cook the Soup

    Continue to cook uncovered over low heat for an hour. Although you’ll want to check on it sometimes, you don’t have to man the stove during this time.

  4. Add the Veggies

    Add in the celery and carrots, and continue to cook for another 15 minutes until they are fork tender. Ladle Beef Barley Soup into bowls and serve while still hot.cropped photo of Beef and Barley Soup

Nutritional Facts

This hearty Beef Barley Soup is full of savory flavor but it is also pretty healthy too!

Nutrition Facts
Beef and Barley Soup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 353 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Trans Fat 0.01g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 94mg31%
Sodium 2083mg91%
Potassium 902mg26%
Carbohydrates 22g7%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 40g80%
Vitamin A 3506IU70%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 82mg8%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Beef Barley Soup Recipe Tips & Tricks

  • Sear the Beef First
    • You always want to brown beef that is going in a soup or stew for maximum flavor! Not only do you get all the delicious beefy flavor, but searing the meat also creates a crust that locks in the natural juices. This keeps your meat tender and juicy during the longer cooking time.
  • Add the Carrots and Celery Last
    • Often you will cook aromatic veggies like carrots and celery with the onion to build extra flavor but for this recipe you want to add them at the end. Adding at the last bit of cooking time is just enough to make them tender without getting too soft. 

How to Store Beef and Barley Soup

Store: After cooking Beef and Barley Soup, you shouldn’t leave it at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. Let the Beef Barley Soup cool to room temperature, then put it in an airtight container. It will keep well in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Reheat: This soup is even better the next day after it’s cooled and reheated! It’s best to reheat it covered on the stove over medium heat until it is simmering. If it has thickened, you can add some beef broth or water 

Freeze: You can keep Barley Soup in the freezer for up to 4 months. Put it in a freezer bag or other airtight container. When you’re ready to serve the soup, let it first defrost in the fridge before reheating.

Alternative Beef and Barley Soup Cooking Techniques

Use the Instant Pot pressure cooking process to speed up your dinner time or let it cook all day as a slow cooker soup.

Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup

  • Add oil to a large skillet, and put in the beef to sear on all sides.
  • Put in the onions and saute until translucent.
  • Add the beef, onions, beef stock, and all remaining ingredients to the slow cooker.
  • Set the slow cooker to low for 7-8 hours and high for 4-5 hours.
  • Stir the Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup and enjoy while still hot.

Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup 

  • Set your instant pot to saute mode and add vegetable oil to the bottom.
  • Season your beef with salt and pepper, then brown it in the pressure cooker in batches.
  • Add the onions to the instant pot and sear until translucent.
  • Pour in the beef broth, barley, and thyme. Seal and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes, then let it naturally release for 15 minutes before quick releasing.
  • Add in the celery and carrots, then put the lid back on for 5 minutes to let the vegetables heat through.

FAQ for Beef and Barley Soup

What is the best cut of beef for Beef Barley Soup?

You want to use normally tougher cuts of meat like chuck roast or beef round roast when you are simmering the meat in soups like Beef Barley Soup. The longer cooking time breaks down the meat until it is fall apart tender without drying it out.

Do you need to soak the barley first before adding it to Beef Barley Soup?

No, you don’t soak the barley before adding it to this Beef Barley Soup recipe. Since you are cooking it for an hour, it will have plenty of time to cook and you want it to be a little chewy.

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Beef and Barley Soup

Easy Beef and Barley Soup recipe is a comforting one-pot dinner full of tender beef, hearty vegetables, plump barley and rich flavors.
Yield 6 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat , or cut up chuck roast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 yellow onion , chopped
  • 8 cups beef broth
  • 2/3 cup pearl barley
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 3 stalks celery , sliced
  • 2 carrots , sliced


  • Add oil to a large pot or dutch oven on high heat.
  • Season beef with salt and pepper.
  • Add to the pot and sear on all sides, about 8-10 minutes.
  • Add in the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes, until translucent.
  • Add in beef broth, barley, and thyme and bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat.
  • Cook, uncovered, for 1 hour.
  • Add in the celery and carrots and cook for 15 minutes, then serve.


Calories: 353kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 2083mg | Potassium: 902mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 3506IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 5mg

Beef and Barley Soup Variations

Vegetarian Barley Soup: There are a couple of ways you can make a barley soup into a Vegetable Barley Soup, so it works for a vegetarian or vegan diet. Use vegetable broth instead of beef broth. Try making Mushroom Barley Soup, or putting in some chickpeas to make the soup more filling.

Veggies: You can add extra veggies like diced tomatoes, green beans, corn, or peas to your soup recipe. Use fresh or frozen vegetables and add them at the end of the cooking time. Stir some garlic into the onions right before you add the broth for more aromatic flavor. 

More Hearty Comforting Beef Soup Recipes

Beef and Barley Soup collage with soup in ladle over pot of soup. Recipe title across bottom and Hearty Comforting Stew in top right corner

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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    1. Such a good time for soup. So glad you and your husband enjoyed the soup and thank you for the 5 star rating Francine.

  1. This soup looks thickened. Did you use a thickener? Just broth would make it more translucent. This looks a little heartier.

    1. No we didn’t. When using the Dutch Oven method, the soup is cooked slow and on low temperatures for over an hour so the broth and veggies simmer and naturally thicken over time a bit to appear as if we added a thickener.

  2. This beef barley soup was so hearty and delicious! The whole family loved it, we served it with fresh homemade bread and it was gone, I mean we cleaned the pot! Awesome recipe!

  3. This looks delicious! I’m planning on making it soon but when I searched my grocery store, all I could find was quick barley. Would that work for this or do I need regular pearl barley? Thanks!

    1. It will still work but I would add the quick barley in with the celery and carrots since it only takes about 10-15 minutes to cook. Hope this helps!

    2. This recipe was so delicious! I am doubling it so we have more than enough for 3 people plus leftovers! Thank you for this delicious recipe!!???

      1. You’re welcome Francine! Soup is extra yummy this time of year. We have so many soup recipes on the site for you to enjoy! Let us know what you think!