Beef Barley Soup

Made of affordable ingredients but cooked long enough to turn them tasty, this classic beef and barley soup is perfect for a filling family meal.

beef barley soup in a white bowl with a spoon
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A classic cold weather dish, beef and barley soup is perfect for a filling family meal. Made of affordable ingredients but cooked long enough to turn them tasty, this is the kind of recipe that leaves you feeling warm and comfy on a cold evening night.

Don’t forget to make your own Italian Seasoning blend to use in this beef barley soup recipe! If you have a little extra time available you could also try making homemade Worcestershire Sauce for your soup!

beef barley soup in a white bowl with a spoon

Beef Barley Soup

Beef and barley soup is probably one of the most traditional recipes there is, combining cheap cuts of beef with an even cheaper grain to create a comfy, warming dish that leaves you with plenty of energy for the next day.

With some vegetables, good broth, and some nice fatty, connective tissue-filled cuts of beef, this soup recipe is the kind of thing that everyone should have frozen and ready in their freezer for when they need a comforting, easy meal at home.                

beef barley soup ingredients in small white bowls

What Is Stewing Meat?

Stewing meat is one of those pretty confusing terms that different supermarkets and butchers attribute to vastly different cuts of meat.

Typically, stewing meat is any kind of grisly cut of meat, which will tend to have a lot of connective tissue bound within the fibers of the meat.

This connective tissue makes the cuts basically inedible when cooked normally, but given a long enough cooking time, the meat can begin to break down and turn soft and delicious.

Connective tissue begins breaking down at 140 Fahrenheit and reaches its maximum breakdown temp at 200 Fahrenheit, which is why you will often see BBQ brisket guides recommending to get to at least that temperature before cutting into your brisket.

Some examples of these cuts might be something like beef chuck, short rib, brisket, or even oxtail.

The key is that it needs to have a decent amount of fat inside it, and it needs to be able to melt down into a gooey, soft, almost gelatinous cubes once it has cooked for a long enough time.

If you are having trouble deciding what kind to get, feel free to just ask your butcher, whether your local butcher shop or the butcher counter at the supermarket. They will know what to recommend, and will probably have some pretty strong opinions about what cuts are best!

beef barley soup in a pot with ingredients added on top

Does It Matter What Frozen Vegetables You Use?

It is really up to you and your individual taste as to the vegetables that you use in your beef barley soup. Changing the vegetables that you use every time that you make this soup can be a good way to keep the dish feeling fresh and exciting as well.

Most of the frozen vegetable mixes that you can buy will normally contain three or four different vegetables and generally try to include a mix of colors. For example, chopped carrots, peas, and corn are a popular combination as they provide a burst of brightness to any dish. Sometimes peas are swapped out for green beans or broccoli pieces for a bit of change as well.

There is no rule that states you have to use a frozen vegetable mix, though. You could instead buy separate bags of frozen vegetables giving you control over the exact vegetables and their ratio to really tailor your soup to your taste.

No matter what you do, just make sure to use plenty of vegetables, as they provide so much of the heart of this dish, not to mention its nutrients.

beef barley soup looking form overhead in two bowls

How To Tell When The Barley Is Cooked

Barley is a surprisingly tricky thing to use in home cooking because of just how long it takes to cook.

Despite being a simple grain, barley seems to take an almost infinite amount of time to reach doneness, and it also has a remarkably disgusting taste and texture when it is improperly cooked.

If you don’t cook your barley properly, you can expect it to be overly chewy and gross, so you really want to ensure you cook it properly.

To best ensure that your barley is cooked, give it all the time that it needs according to the packet instruction. If you aren’t sure, make sure to taste a small piece of barley by eating it.

If the barley is cooked, it should fall apart like a well-cooked grain of rice – if it still has a chew that sticks to your teeth, leave it cooking for a lot longer, as otherwise your beef and barley soup will be horrendously chewy.

beef barley soup in a large pot with a wooden spoon in it

How To Serve Your Beef Barley Soup

Your beef and barley soup should be super comfy and warming, so it makes sense to serve your soup with something equally warming and filling, so why not try one of these comforting options?

  • Serve In A Bread Bowl

Nothing quite beats the experience of eating soup out of a bread bowl, no matter what kind it is. Soft, chewy and it also saves you washing up!

  • Serve With A Warm Bread Roll

You really can’t go wrong with pairing a warm bread roll and soup together. Dip your bread into the soup, or use it to wipe the bowl once you’ve finished it!

  • Serve Alongside Rice

For something a little different why not serve your beef barley soup with a small portion of rice? It will add a bit of chewiness, as well as plenty of filling tastiness to compliment your soup.

  • Serve On Its Own For a Light Meal

If you are planning to serve your beef barley soup as a lunch, you might want to consider eating it on its own without a side. The soup already contains potatoes as well, so you don’t have to worry about a lack of carbs!

Looking for more delicious Soup recipes? Try these out:

Chicken Barley Soup

Vegetable Beef Soup

Italian Sausage Lasagna Soup

Happy Cooking



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 Made of affordable ingredients but cooked long enough to turn them tasty, this classic beef and barley soup is perfect for a filling family meal.

Beef Barley Soup

Made of affordable ingredients but cooked long enough to turn them tasty, this classic beef and barley soup is perfect for a filling family meal.
5 from 4 votes
beef barley soup in a white bowl with a spoon
Prep Time
15 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Karlynn Johnston


  • 1.5 pounds stewing meat (cut up small)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup white onion (finely diced)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1-2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • one 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 6-7 cups beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup celery chopped
  • 1 large Russet potato (peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
  • 1 cup frozen vegetables
  • cup barley
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Season the beef with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a large soup pot, then add in the beef and white onion, frying until the beef is browned on all sides and the onion has softened.
  • Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, until browned and fragrant. Add in the Italian seasoning and heat for another 30 seconds.
  • Pour some of the beef broth into the bottom of the pan and deglaze the bottom.
  • Add in the rest of the broth, then the canned tomatoes, and Worcestershire sauce to the pot.
  • Bring to a low simmer, then reduce the heat and cover.
  • Cook for 20 minutes until the beef starts to become tender.
  • Add in the barley.
  • Add in the potatoes and celery and cook for another 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  • Stir in the frozen vegetables and cook for 10 minutes more until the barley and the veggies are tender.
  • Add more broth if the soup is too thick at this point. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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  1. Brenda says

    oops,sorry i asked the question about freezing.I read the entire article and saw it can be frozen. it looks delicious.Think i will give it a whirl.

  2. Barbara Gilloren says

    How long should u cook in instant pot. Can’t wait to make this beef barley soup, love all your recipes. Thank You

  3. Linda Sorensen says

    could venison be used instead of beef?5 stars

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