Beef and Barley Soup

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This Beef and Barley Soup is a hearty, healthy, and delicious meal. I love that this soup can be put into your slow cooker (crockpot) in the morning, cooks all day without supervision, and is ready to enjoy in the evening.

This soup pairs perfectly with a crusty loaf of bread, a simple Italian salad, or this winter fruit salad!

Overhead image of the beef and barley soup.

Beef stew has always been one of my favorite comfort foods during the winter. The minute it gets even a little bit cold outside, I whip out the crockpot and make a batch. It’s funny how food can bring you back to places and times in an instant. Beef stew for me instantly brings me back to being a kid and watching my dad make stew in a dutch oven over coals outside. We’d go out to watch him in the freezing cold and then rush in and snuggle up by the fire while he’d dish it up for us all.

And this soup does not disappoint; it’s rich, hearty, and packed with good ingredients. It’s really the perfect recipe to make in those freezing cold temperatures — in fact, it might even have you craving cold weather so you can make it again! 😉  

Beef being prepared for this vegetable beef and barley soup

How to make beef and barley soup

  1. Sear Meat: quickly sear the meat (optional step) and then toss in the crockpot
  2. Sauté veggies: saute the veggies in the same pot and then add to the crockpot; we saute the veggies to add flavor and texture to the soup!
  3. Add everything to crockpot: add everything else to the crockpot and give it a good stir! 
  4. Cook: Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.

potatoes chopped for this easy beef and barley soup

Cooking Tips

  • Use a well-marbled chuck roast: The chuck roast you get makes a big difference in the flavor. The more fat marbling the chuck roast has, the more flavor it will have.
  • Get a good sear on beef: While you can add the beef completely raw to the crockpot, I highly recommend searing it first. Searing the meat improves the overall texture and appearance of your soup.
  • Good quality tomatoes: I recommend using high quality fire roasted tomatoes. There is a HUGE difference in the taste and flavor from a good brand of fire roasted tomatoes and a typical store brand canned tomatoes. (I love Cento or Muir Glen)
  • Use beef stock instead of broth: Beef stock tends to have a richer flavor when compared to beef broth. You can read more about the difference between the two here, but short story: beef STOCK adds more flavor to this beef and barley soup!
  • Cook on low: while you CAN cook this on high heat, I recommend cooking on low heat — you’ll end up with a more flavorful soup with exceptionally tender meat.

Picture of barley for this classic beef and barley soupProcess shots for this easy beef and barley soup -- adding all the ingredients to the crockpot

Beef and Barley Soup FAQS

What kind of barley do you use for soup?

I use pearled barley for this soup. Pearl barley is a whole grain barley that has its fibrous outer “shell” removed and polished to remove some of the other outer bran layer. It cooks well in this beef and barley soup and tastes amazing!

Overhead image of the delicious beef and barley soup slow cooker recipe

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Beef and Barley Soup

5 from 1 vote
This Beef and Barley Soup is a hearty, healthy, and delicious meal. This veggie and beef packed soup can put in your slow cooker (crockpot) in the morning and enjoyed in the evening.
Print Recipe

Beef and Barley Soup

5 from 1 vote
This Beef and Barley Soup is a hearty, healthy, and delicious meal. This veggie and beef packed soup can put in your slow cooker (crockpot) in the morning and enjoyed in the evening.
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword beef and barley soup
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 7 hours
Cooking Time 7 hours
Total Time 7 hours 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 220kcal
Author Chelsea

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 ribs celery, sliced in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup 100% pure grape juice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 pound yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 beef boullion cubes*
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or use 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon EACH: dried basil, dried oregano
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 7 cups beef stock (low sodium)
  • Optional: fresh chopped parsley, crusty loaf of bread

Instructions

  • Cube the beef and then pat dry with paper towels. Generously salt and pepper all the sides. 
  • Place a large skillet or pot over medium high heat. Add in 1 tablespoon of oil and once it's shimmering, add the beef cubes (in one even layer; you can do this in batches to not overcrowd the meat). Sear for about 15-20 seconds per side (about 1 minute total) and then transfer beef to slow cooker.
  • Turn heat down to medium-low and add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Next, add in the carrots and celery and saute, stirring occasionally for 5-8 minutes.
  • Turn the heat up to high, add grape juice, and scrape any browned bits up from the pan. Stir and simmer for 3 minutes and then pour the veggie mixture into the crockpot. 
  • While the veggies are simmering, you can add in everything else to the crockpot: tomato paste, chopped yukon gold potatoes, crumbled beef bouillon cubes, Worcestershire sauce, fresh thyme, bay leaves, uncooked pearl barley, white sugar, dried basil, dried oregano, undrained fire-roasted tomatoes, and finally the beef stock.
  • Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.
  • Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning. It will vary greatly depending on the actual beef stock and cubes you use, but I generally add about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  • Enjoy with fresh parsley (optional) and a crusty loaf of bread!

Recipe Notes

*Here are the exact beef bouillon cubes I use. Also, if you're worried about sodium/salt from the cubes and stock you can omit the cubes (or add, crumbled in small amounts, later to taste)

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 220kcal

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Calories in beef and barley soup

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6 Comments

  1. As one of your ingredients you list “2 beef boullion cubes*” Further down the list there is 7 cups of beef stock. What does the asterisk indicate? Thanks. We always enjoy your recipes and commentary. Regards.

    1. Hey John! Thank you so much for pointing that out; definitely an oversight on my part and I appreciate your help 🙂 I’ve updated the recipe to have a link showing the cubes I use and a note about sodium content. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the delicious recipes.
    I don’t use bouillon cubes. There is far too much sodium chloride in them. I much prefer Better Than Bouillon that comes in a jar and is found in most grocery stores. It is found with salt or low salt. It also comes in a myriad of flavors, i.e. chicken, beef, vegetable, etc. I can control how much I use better than with the cubes.

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