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 hearty, stretches to feed a crowd, and is the sort of no-fuss dinner meant for a night of cozy conversation.
I cooked this vegetable beef barley soup for friends we were visiting in Colorado.
We had no agenda, beyond catching up and eventually settling in for dinner.
This humble soup is just the sort of recipe for a no-fuss evening with people you love.
Like all great beef soup recipes (Instant 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 is well worth it.
Save this recipe for a chilly day.
Winter isn’t done with us yet, and mushroom beef barley soup makes that so much more bearable.
How to Make Beef Barley Soup
This classic beef barley soup is thick, comforting, and thanks to a plethora of vegetables, it acts as an all-in-one meal (with some No Knead Focaccia for dipping, please).
Beef barley soup is good for you in moderation.
It features loads of vegetables, whole grains, and protein.
- Beef. Tender pieces of chuck roast are perfect for this hearty, flavorful soup. Beef is packed with protein and iron, making it a nutritious addition too.
- Pearled Barley. Nutty, tender, and delightfully chewy. Barley adds wonderful texture to the soup and helps make it more satisfying (just like the rice does in my Crock Pot Chicken and Rice Soup).
- Veggies. Celery, carrots, onion, parsnip, and mushrooms add flavor, texture, and nutrition to this soup.
- Beef Stock. With deep flavor, beef stock makes an excellent liquid base. It also helps deglaze the pan, ensuring all those tasty browned bits (AKA flavor!) are incorporated into the soup.
- Tomato Paste. Adds rich, simmered all day flavor to the soup.
- Worcestershire. For a touch of umami goodness.
- 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.
- Cut and season the beef.
- Chop the vegetables.
- Cook the beef, then transfer it to a plate.
- Sauté the onion, celery, and mushrooms.
- Add the garlic, tomato paste, Worcestershire, paprika, and thyme.
- Stir in the carrots and parsnips.
- Add the beef, stock, and bay leaves.
- Let the soup simmer for 45 minutes.
- Stir in the barley and pepper. Simmer for 45 minutes more.
- Remove the bay leaves. Add the parsley and vinegar. ENJOY!
- 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.
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.
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 is a big bowl of cozy. I hope it brings warmth to your home one night soon.
Frequently Asked Questions
For a thick, rich soup and barley that is fully flavored, you do not cook barley before adding it to soup. Instead, the barley cooks directly in the stock, so it absorbs more flavor and helps to thicken the soup as well.
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.
If you’re unable to find barley at your grocery store, you could experiment with swapping in arborio rice or farro instead. Make note of their cook times, as they will likely differ from the barley. I haven’t made this soup with either of these grains, so you’d be experimenting.
- 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
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 the 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.
- 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.
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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