When people think of a hearty beef and barley soup, they often think of Grandma’s house.
My Grandma always served the best comfort food! Delicious warm bowls of soup, hot gooey casseroles, fresh baked cookies……
This Beef Barley Soup is just like the wonderful comfort food she served.
It’s a good old fashioned soup made with homey, easy to find ingredients, and it comes together to taste like so much more!
It makes a hearty one dish meal that my family loves all year round, but especially when there’s a chill in the air.
It will warm you up from head to toe and right down to your bones!
This soup is one of the my “most requested recipes” for our family dinner rotation. It’s a staple in our house, and I’ve finally gotten around to sharing my recipe.
We eat it all the time—partially because it’s easy to put together, partially because it’s healthy and has vegetables, and partially just because we all love it.
It’s a no-argument meal.
Plus, this soup is filling. It’s almost more like a beef and barley stew. (Though it’s still thin enough to be served in a bowl, making it a soup.)
It’s got a huge substance, the kind that sticks to your ribs and leaves you feeling very, very satisfied.
This makes the dish perfect for a cold, blustery day.
When the wind is raging outside and even looking out my window makes me shudder, I break out this easy beef and barley soup recipe.
Though, like I said, this thick recipe is more suited to Fall and Winter, I’ve been known to serve it in the summer using fresh ingredients from my garden.
There’s almost nothing better than fresh veggies in a beef vegetable barley soup!
Undoubtedly this is my go-to food soup.
The recipe doubles really easily, so if I have company I’ll quick make up a large batch like my uncle used to do.
The complex and satisfying flavors make it a great hospitality dish. What could say, “You’re welcome in my home” better than a steaming bowl of delicious soup?
Some of my friends really love barley.
For them, I’ll add a little more barley than the recipe calls for. (Usually a whole cup rather than ¾.) While I think the balance of the recipe as-is works perfectly, my barley-inclined friends appreciate the gesture.
(Tip: Barley is high in fiber. Serve this soup with a little extra barley added to folks who need a more fiber in their diet.)
But this recipe is also good for folks who’ve never had barley before. I once served it to some friends who are a little hesitant to try new things.
They’d never eaten barley before, and weren’t sure they’d like a soup that included it.
They actually asked me if I could make just plain old beef soup. But they loved this recipe and even requested it again later on!
One of the things that’s really useful about this recipe is how well it keeps.
In fact, this hearty beef barley soup actually gets better over a few days! If I have leftovers (and that’s a big “if”), I’ll stick them in the fridge and reheat the next day for an easy lunch.
The recipe is functionally a one-dish meal, making it perfect for work-day lunches.
And while I eat this dish on its own at lunch time the next day, when it’s fresh and hot I serve it with a crusty bread and a beautiful salad.
This easy, 3-part meal will leave everybody stuffed and happy—is there a better feeling in the world?
The Beef~ Obviously, the meat is a huge part of this recipe. And when it comes to beef barley soup, Food Network and I have a disagreement. They use oxtails, but I think the beef chuck roast is the absolute best meat inclusion for this recipe. It makes the whole soup rich and filling—is it any surprise that this soup is my comfort food?
If you have leftover steak, this is a good way to use it. I wouldn’t substitute the whole amount of chuck roast with steak, because that will significantly reduce the flavor. The other beef product that works really well in this recipe is boneless short ribs. By the second or third day the already tender rib meat is just melt-in-your-mouth awesome.
Simple leaving out the meat can help to make a pseudo vegetarian barley soup. (Remember that there is still beef broth in the recipe which keeps the dish from being a full-on vegetarian recipe.)
Barley~ So we’ve talked about the beef, now let’s talk about the barley. This recipe calls for pearl barley, which gives it the overall best texture and flavor. I strongly recommend using pearl barley in the dish. However, for the especially health-conscious, hulled barley is higher in minerals and nutrients. But it does not make for as good a soup. So the trade-off is one you’ll have to decide for yourself.
Cooking~ This recipe uses a Dutch oven to do most of the cooking. But, when you want to significantly reduce the actual work time of your beef barley soup, slow cookers might be the way to go. I don’t think the final dish comes out tasting quite the same, but there’s no doubt that it’s an easier dish to prepare.
Because you’re using a Dutch oven to cook the meat, it is very important to cook the beef well. Don’t shorten this step. Ideally you want a really good brown on both sides of the meat. This browning will ensure that those delicious juices get sealed into your beef, rather than getting left in the pan. Plus, those juices help to keep your meat moist and tender—nobody wants dry, stringy beef in their soup!
Reheating~ If you find your soup gets too thick in the fridge, just add a little beef broth before reheating. This will thin it out into soup consistency again.
Serving Suggestions~ I’ve already mentioned that I love serving this recipe with crusty bread. My favorite bread for this soup is a homemade Italian herbs and cheese bread. The hint of Parmesan adds a ton of flavor to the soup.
Also consider serving this soup with a handful of oyster crackers. Or try it with pita chips.
Variations~ If you have a homemade beef stock available, trying substituting that for beef broth. The final dish will that much more flavorful.
If I have them available, I’ll sometimes serve this soup with sliced mushrooms. This makes an excellent beef mushroom barley soup.
For those on a low-sodium diet, you’ll want to make a quick change. Just use unsalted beef broth (or stock) to make the soup.
Source: Gonna Want Seconds
Beef Barley Soup
- Boneless Beef Chuck Roast, Trimmed and Cut Into 1 Inch Cubed - 2 Pounds
- Vegetable Oil - 2 Tablespoons, Plus More As Needed
- Salt - As Needed
- Black Pepper - As Needed
- Onion, Diced - 1 Medium
- Carrots, Peeled and Diced - 4-5 Large
- Cloves Garlic, Rough Chopped - 6 Large
- Cremini Mushrooms, Trimmed and Quartered - 16 Ounces
- Whole Tomatoes, Including Juice - 1~~28 ounce Can
- Better than Bouillon~Beef Flavor, or 2 Large Bouillon Cubes - 1 Heaping Tablespoon
- 64 Ounces - Beef Stock
- 4~6 Sprigs - Fresh Thyme
- 1 Sprig - Fresh Rosemary
- Dried Bay Leaves - 2
- Pearl Barley - 3/4 Cup
- Frozen Green Beans, Thawed and Well Drained - 1 Cup
- Granulated Sugar - 1/8 Teaspoon
- Worcestershire Sauce - 1 1/2 Teaspoons
1. Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a large Dutch oven, over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the beef in batches and cook until well browned on all sides. Remove the browned meat to a plate and set aside. Continue with remaining beef, adding more oil as needed. Lower the heat through the browning process, as needed, if the meat or fond (little brown bits on the bottom of the pan) begin to burn.
2. Add onion and carrots to the pan, scraping bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits and cook over medium heat until they just begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until mushrooms soften, another 4 minutes or so.
3. Return the browned beef, as well as any juices that have accumulated to the Dutch oven. Add 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to the pan. Crush the whole tomatoes with your hand and add to the pan. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the barley is cooked and the beef is tender, about 1 hour.