Beef barley soup has got to be the ultimate cozy, stick-to-your-ribs soup. The depth of the flavor is incredible, and you'll leave the table feeling full, yet still wanting more.
This soup is perfect in the fall and winter, when the weather is just too cold to deal with. A bowl of this is the perfect cure.
Beef barley soup is hearty, filling, and nutritious. It's a great way to end a cold winter's day.
Why You're Going to Love this Recipe
- It's deeply flavorful - we're making depth as big as we can by using red wine, tomato paste beef broth, and chicken broth (plus other awesome herbs).
- You can switch up the flavors of the herbs and spices to be more to your taste.
- It's super filling.
- It's also really nutritious.
- It freezes really well, and it makes a big batch so you can keep some on hand all the time.
Frequently Asked Questions
I would recommend stewing beef or a chuck roast. Both come out tender after cooking in the soup.
I would try and get my hands on some pearl barley, that's what's used in this recipe. It takes less time than hulled barley, but still keeps some of the nutrients that quick barley lacks.
Nope! Just add it to the pot when it's time.
Yes totally, that would be delicious.
Yes, the instructions for both can be found below!
- Stewing beef: you can definitely use another cut (chuck is great in any type of stewing/simmering/braising situation), but the stewing meat comes out really tender in this recipes because it cooks for so long.
- Carrot, onion, celery: the perfect base of flavor.
- Garlic: always.
- Tomato paste: again, working on that depth of flavor. It isn't overly tomato-y in the end, but lends a touch of savory sweetness.
- Red wine: for deglazing our pot.
- Chicken and beef broth: I like using both, because I find when you use only beef, the flavor is a bit too intense. By all means though, you can just use beef.
- Potato: for a little extra heartiness.
- Pearl barley: this is the perfect barley for this soup - it retains it's heartiness and nutrition without taking nearly as long to cook as hulled barley.
- Rosemary: for extra flavor.
- Salt and pepper: to taste.
How to Make Beef Barley Soup
Let's go through it step-by-step.
On the Stovetop
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season your beef pretty liberally with salt and pepper, and add it to the pot in an even layer. You might have to do this in batches, you want the beef to sear, and if you over-crowd the pan, it will steam.
Once the beef is browned on all sides, remove it to a plate.
If the pan is dry, add a little more oil. If not, don't worry about it.
Add the celery, carrot and onion. Saute the veggies until they're just beginning to soften.
Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Add the tomato paste, and give it a good stir, letting it coat all the veggies.
Next, deglaze the pan with red wine. Allow the wine to reduce until there's almost no liquid left.
Add the beef and juices back to the pot, along with both broths and the rosemary. Bring the pot to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to medium low. We want the pot to be simmering at this point.
Cover, and let it cook away for an hour.
After an hour, add the barley. Cover, and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally.
After another half an hour, add your potato. At this point, watch the soup carefully. I let it go to far, and had the heat too high the first time I did this. It's super easy for the barley to burn to the bottom of the pot, so make sure you're checking on it!
In the Instant Pot
Start by setting your Instant Pot to the "sauté" function. Add your oil and brown your beef in 2-4 batches to sear it properly. Add the beef back to the Instant pot, along with all the other ingredients.
Set the Instant Pot to "pressure cook" on high, and set the timer for half an hour.
Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, and then release the steam that's left.
In the Slow Cooker
If you want the extra flavor in the soup - you can sear the beef beforehand in a separate pot. I also think it's ok to skip this step just to make your life easier.
Throw everything in the slow cooker, and cook on low for 8 hours.
Tips and Tricks
- This is a super thick soup - honestly it's more like a stew. If you're wanting to make it thinner, that's no problem. Either add some extra broth at the end, or cut back the barley from ¾C to a ½C when you add it.
- In the last half hour of cooking, after you've added the barley and potatoes, keep a close eye on it, stirring it often, and making sure the temperature isn't too hot. I made both of these mistakes the first time, and my barley burned to the bottom of the pot.
- Make sure you taste for seasoning at the end, and adjust as necessary!
Storage, Reheating, and Freezing
This soup will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
It also freezes really well in an airtight container for up to three months.
To reheat, warm in a saucepan over medium heat until heated through.
Or, be like me and just zap it in the microwave for a few minutes.
There's tons of ways to make this soup your own - here are a few options:
- Ditch the red wine if you want - just use more chicken or beef stock to deglaze.
- Add mushrooms!
- Add thyme, or switch up the herbs and spices.
- Skip the potato - with all the barley you don't necessarily need the extra substance.
- Use all chicken broth or all beef broth - totally up to you. I just happen to like the intensity when you split it!
Sides to Serve it With
Beef Barley Soup
- Dutch Oven or large soup pot
- Instant Pot
- Slow Cooker
- 2 tablespoon olive oil divided
- 2 lbs stewing beef or chuck roast cut into 1" cubes
- 2 carrots diced
- 3 stalks celery diced
- 1 onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- ⅓ C red wine
- 4 C beef broth
- 4 C chicken broth
- ¾ C pearl barley
- 1 potato chopped
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoon fresh parsely chopped
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper, and brown in a single layer at the bottom of the pot (you might have to do multiple batches. Once the beef is browned on all sides, remove to a plate and set aside.
- Add the other tablespoon of oil to the pot, along with the carrots, celery, and onion. Cook until softened, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the tomato paste, and stir to coat the vegetables.
- Add the red wine, and deglaze the pan.
- Add both chicken and beef broth. Turn the heat up to high, and bring the pot to a boil. Add the rosemary. Turn the burner back down to low, and get the pot to a simmer. Add the rosemary. Cover, and simmer for 1 hour.
- Add the potato and the barley. Cover, and simmer for another hour.
- Pour into bowls, and garnish with the fresh parsley. Serve piping hot!