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The best beef barley soup recipe

Cold winter evenings call for a bowl of this hearty beef barley soup recipe, full of vegetables and a rich tomatoey broth. A basket of buttermilk biscuits would be the perfect side for this comfort food.

beef barley soup in white bowl

This recipe for beef barley soup is easy and straightforward. Making a good pot of soup from scratch is a great skill to have and this is a good one to start with, if you’re new to making soup.

Even if you are an experienced cook, this recipe for beef soup with barley and vegetables is a classic.

Made the soup today- it was delicious! This will be added to the fall & winter meal menu in our house.

– Elaine

Beef Barley Soup

As a kid, this was my favorite soup. There was just something about that broth, it was sweet and tangy from the tomato and the barley was just chewy enough to give it texture. I loved it.

I’ve always been a soup lover. To me, it is a balm for my soul. There is something about a bowl of soup that is comforting, don’t you agree?

The defining factor in any bowl of soup is the broth. If the broth is watery or not well seasoned, it ruins the entire pot.

bowl of beef barley soup with pot in background

Let me assure you, the broth in beef barley soup is full of flavor and so delicious. Tender chunks of meat and vegetables are simmered in a tangy and deeply flavored tomatoey beef broth. It is a soup lovers dream.

Beef Barley Soup with Vegetables

Some soups are more focused on the meat, whereas I like to pack my soup with vegetables. It is mostly mirepoix, which is carrots, onion and celery. It is the base of almost every soup. 

soup ingredients on sheet pan

As you can see, the meat complements the soup. The vegetables actually make up the bulk of it. I use 1 pound of meat, but if you like a really meaty soup, go ahead and double it.

If you haven’t made soup from scratch before, this is a nice, easy recipe to begin with. I made a cheat sheet with tips for making soup like a pro that you might want to snag to help you.

Do you cook barley before adding to the soup?

No. The barley cooks in the soup. While it’s cooking, it will absorb the flavorful broth, giving the barley great flavor.

3 bowls of soup with spoons

Otherwise, the barley would be bland and wouldn’t taste like much. This also gives the vegetables and meat time to soften in the soup while the barley is cooking. 

What is the best cut of beef for beef barley soup?

I use beef stew meat, which can be found at any grocery store. You can use whatever you prefer, but stew meat is standard for beef barley soup.

pot of soup with ladle

You want a cut of meat that benefits from a longer period of simmering to break down the tissue and soften as it cooks.

Can you freeze beef barley soup?

Yes! Beef barley soup freezes like a dream. This makes it a great choice for make ahead meals as well. I always make more soup than I need with the intention of freezing some for days when I’m too busy or tired to cook.

What do you serve with beef barley soup?

I love warm, buttered buttermilk biscuits with my soup. These potato dill biscuits would also be fantastic with this soup.

A side salad would be great, but if you like a heartier salad, like I do, this butternut arugula salad is so good.

For dessert, cranberry orange upside down cake is perfect for this time of year.

3 bowls of beef barley soup with parsley and spoons

What do I need to make beef barley soup?

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The great thing about this soup is that you probably have most of the ingredients already. As for equipment, you’ll need a few things. 

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beef barley soup in white bowl

Beef Barley Soup

Cheryl Bennett
A rich and heart beef barley soup packed with vegetables. A complete and comforting meal in a bowl.
4.75 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Soup and Stew Recipes
Cuisine American
Servings 4 quarts
Calories 205 kcal


  • 1 lb beef stew meat
  • 4 carrots peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 stalks celery thinly sliced
  • 2 medium onions finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups beef broth or stock 48 oz
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • 1/2 c. pearled barley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped (optional)


  • In a medium to large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add beef and sear on all sides. Season with half of the salt and pepper.
  • When beef has a good sear on all sides, remove from pot and set aside.
  • Add onions and cook for 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Add celery, carrots and garlic, season with remaining salt and pepper. Cook until softened (about 6-8 minutes).
  • Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and stir to coat. 
  • Let flour cook out for a few minutes, then add beef back into the pot and pour in the beef broth/stock.
  • Add remaining ingredients and let soup simmer until barley is cooked (about 45 minutes).
  • Add chopped fresh parsley, if desired.
  • Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.


If you like a lot of broth, add up to 8 cups of broth to the soup.


Serving: 1gCalories: 205kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 23gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 1185mgFiber: 4gSugar: 5g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Thanks for stopping by! Have a delicious day 🙂

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  1. Delicious, easy recipe. The only change I made was using my crockpot, cooked on high for 3 hours and a few hours on low. This is now on my monthly roster.

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