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Beef and Barley Soup

This Beef and Barley Soup is a hearty, healthy, and delicious meal. I love that you can put this soup into your slow cooker in the morning, let it cook all day without supervision, and it'll be ready to enjoy in the evening.
Course Dinner, Main 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 397kcal
Author Chelsea


  • 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 divided
  • 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
  • 8 1/2 cups beef stock or broth (low sodium) divided (Note 1)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 beef bouillon 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
  • Optional: fresh chopped parsley, crusty loaf of bread


  • Cube the beef and then pat dry with paper towels. Generously salt and pepper all the sides. 
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat 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 the beef to a large slow cooker.
  • Turn heat down to medium-low and add the 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 continue to saute, stirring occasionally for 5-8 minutes.
  • Turn the heat up to high, add 1 1/2 cups of beef stock (or red wine), 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 everything else to the crockpot: tomato paste, chopped 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 rest of 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 bouillon 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!


Note 1: If you like to cook with wine, you can swap out 1 1/2 cups of red wine for that amount of beef stock in step 4. The remaining 7 cups of beef stock will be added in step 5.
*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)


Calories: 397kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 1299mg | Potassium: 1604mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3212IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 89mg | Iron: 5mg