Beef & Barley Soup

Enjoy our recipe for a classic soup made with simple, everyday ingredients. Perfect for whenever you want something flavorful and comforting!

  • By Jackie Sun
  • January 25, 2018

There are recipes that will always have a place in our hearts and our dinner tables. Classic recipes that withstand the test of time and are a comfort no matter the season. Dinners that will have anyone who peeks into the simmering pot or through the hot oven exclaiming, “Yeahhh!” 

You know the ones – spaghetti and meatballs, roast chicken with potatoes, taco night . . .

Another comforting classic that shouldn’t be overlooked is Beef & Barley Soup. Simple, everyday ingredients transform into a hearty, flavorful soup that has your tastebuds satisfied and your belly filled with warmth.

Nutty and chewy barley pairs perfectly with aromatic vegetables, and tender chunks of beef stew and a bit of tomato paste add rich, umami flavor.

We recently created our own Beef & Barley Soup recipe for our meal plan service in November last year, and it was such a hit with our cooking community, it ended up being the Top Rated Meal of 2017! It just goes to show that timeless, comforting recipes are here to stay and will remain a constant favorite.

“Super easy, doubled the recipe to have leftovers. Delicious, filling, husband raved about it. Will definitely make again.”

– Katharine M.

This soup really benefits from a long, slow simmer to allow the barley and beef stew to get tender. You can always substitute pearled barley for quick-cooking barley (Trader Joe’s sells one that cooks in 10 minutes) or even use canned white beans as a substitute, but let’s just say that a long simmer would be so worth it.

Several minutes before the soup is done, toast up a whole baguette so you can alternate between bites of crusty bread dipped in soup and spoonfuls of tender beef and vegetables!

What’s your favorite comforting classic? Let us know in the comments below so we can come up with a recipe for it!

More Yum!

If you like this recipe, check out our other Top 10 Meals of 2017

Prepping Smarts

  • The mirepoix (onions, carrots, and celery) can be chopped 5 days ahead of time. This will really help shave off some time when you cook the soup, so we highly recommend doing this prep step when you have a few minutes to spare. Watch how to prep these veggies with our videos below.
  • The beef stew can also be seasoned and tenderized a day ahead, so you can jump right into cooking on the day of. Tenderizing the meat not only helps to make it more tender; it also helps the meat to soak in more flavor. See how below!

How to Chop Carrots

Watch this video to learn our tips on how to best peel, chop, and dice carrots easily.


How to Dice Celery

Learn how to chop celery for use in stir-fries, soups, sautes, and salads.


How to Chop & Dice an Onion

Learning how to dice an onion correctly will save you so much time in the kitchen.


How to Season & Tenderize Proteins with a Fork

Maximize flavor and tenderize proteins with this little trick.

Equipment Smarts

  • Dutch oven – the only equipment you need! Dutch ovens promote even heating throughout the pot, which makes it the perfect tool for making soups.

For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools

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Beef & Barley Soup

Hearty and comforting, Beef & Barley Soup is full of classic flavors and simple ingredients that is perfect for any time of the year.

Prep time: 15 min

Cook time: 1 hr 20 min

Total time: 1 hr 35 min

Serves: 4


  • Carrots - 6 oz, chopped
  • Celery - 3 stalks, chopped
  • Onions, medium - 1, chopped
  • Beef stew meat - 1 lb
  • Salt - 1 tsp
  • Garlic powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Thyme, dried - 1/2 tsp
  • Red pepper flakes - 1/4 tsp
  • Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
  • Butter - 2 Tbsp
  • Pearl barley - 1/3 cup (sub cooked white beans, using 3x the amount listed)
  • Tomato paste - 2 Tbsp
  • Flour, all-purpose - 2 Tbsp
  • Stock, beef - 5 cups
  • Bay leaves (opt) - 2
  • Lemon juice - 1/2 tsp
  • Yogurt, plain or Greek - 1/2 cup
  • Baguette, small (opt) - 1



  1. Carrots / Celery / Onions – Prep as directed and combine. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Season beef – Toss beef with salt, garlic powder, thyme and red pepper flakes. Tenderize with a fork. (Can be done 1 day ahead)


  1. Heat a Dutch oven with oil over medium-high heat. Add beef and saute until beef is brown on the outside, 7 to 8 minutes (don’t worry if it’s not cooked through). Set beef aside and return pan to heat.
  2. Add butter and then carrots, celery, onions and barley (if using beans as a sub for barley or using quick cooking barley, wait to add these) to melted butter. Saute until vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and flour and cook for 1 minute more.
  3. Pour stock and bay leaves over vegetables and add beef back to pan. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer, covered until barley and beef are both tender, ~60 minutes. (If using quick cooking barley, add it 10 minutes before the beef is finished.)
  5. Stir lemon juice (if using white beans as a barley sub, drain and rinse and then add to soup) into soup and season with some salt and pepper.
  6. Divide soup between bowls. Enjoy with yogurt on top and baguette on the side.

A little note: Some of the above links are Amazon affiliate links, which means we earn a small percentage from those sales. We use this affiliate revenue to support the continued growth of Cook Smarts. Thank you!

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Weeknight Recipe: Beef & Barley Soup via @cooksmartsWeeknight Recipe: Beef & Barley Soup via @cooksmarts

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