Are you looking for a recipe for a good classic beef barley soup? One that is thick, hearty, and loaded with tender beef and veggies. Let me show you just how to make beef barley soup, step-by-step.
What Makes This Soup So Good?
For one, it is a classic. There is something so nostalgic about soups like this. Classics are classics for a reason.
It is hearty. Each bowl is a full meal. It is thick and loaded with tender beef and vegetables. All things to be loved.
While this isn't the fastest soup to make, no 30-minute meals here, it is worth the time it takes. There is something so good about slow food.
It makes a great meal prep. This soup is just as good, if not better, in the following days. It is simple to heat in the microwave and on the cooktop.
- Beef- I will give my recommendation below for the cut of beef to use.
- Oil- I used canola oil. You can use butter or other oil if you prefer.
- Flour- This is used as a thickener.
- Onions- I used yellow, but white onions also work well.
- Celery- These are always a must in beef soup.
- Carrots- Onions, celery, and carrots are the holy trinity in good soup making.
- Garlic- This is fresh garlic, not garlic powder
- Beef broth- you can either buy the stock or make it yourself. I have a great post all about slow cooker vs pressure cooker broth.
- Tomato Paste- you can use diced tomatoes, but the tomato paste adds more depth.
- Sage, Tony Chacheriers, salt, pepper, bay leaves- spiced needed to add more flavor to this soup.
- Barley- I used hulled barley, it cooks much more quickly. It also thickens the soup.
- Peas- Frozen peas are what I like to use if I don't have fresh on hand- which I never do in the winter.
Beef For The Stew
Let's start with the star of this show, the beef. You can always buy stew meat. That is a great, simple option. It is a little more expensive though, so I almost always opt to cut up my own.
The cut of meat you use is pretty important. You generally don't want a super lean cut of beef, a little fat is a lot of flavors. A chuck roast is great, as is a chuck shoulder.
I also use top or bottom round plenty of times as well. It is an inexpensive cut and really good.
This was a lean chuck roast. Still pretty fatty, but not as fatty as the regular. Cut into 1-2 inch chunks. If you are in a hurry, you can always cut the beef smaller and it will cook faster.
How To Make The Beef Barley Soup
- Cut your beef into chunks.
- Dredge in flour.
- Sear the beef in hot oil. It is best to use a thick-bottomed pan. I love my Lodge enameled cast iron pan.
- Add in the veggies and saute.
- Pour over the beef stock and seasonings.
- Cook until the beef is tender.
- Add in barley and peas.
- Cook until the barley is tender.
- Now, sit back and enjoy. You deserve it!
How To Thicken The Soup
There are 2 ways this soup will thicken, one is the barley. When it releases the starch, this will thicken the soup substantially.
Another way I like to thicken the soup is by adding some flour to the beef and coating it in it, before searing. After it is seared and you add the stock, it will thicken.
Reduction. This is a method of cooking a soup or stew and letting it reduce. It will thicken as it cooks.
These ways will leave you with a beautiful, thick soup.
There are several types of barley to choose from. I used pearled barley, the quickest cooking, and easiest to find. This technically is not a whole grain as the bran has been stripped away.
If this concerns you, go for a barley groat, a whole grain. Just know it takes a little longer to cook. Not a big deal though. The pearly barley will take about 30 minutes to tender in this soup.
Warm and Hearty Soup
This looks just like what a fall meal should look like. Doesn't this look cozy and like it would warm your soul??
The flavors, texture, and substance are perfect this time of year!!
Bread and Rolls To Go With The Soup
- Honey Oatmeal Bread
- Whole Wheat Biscuits
- Jalapeno Cornbread
- Parker House Rolls
- Honey Ricotta Toast with Blackberries
- Whole Wheat Popovers
Hearty Beef Barley Soup
- 6-8 quart thick bottom stock pot
- 1-2 pounds stew meat You can also cut up your own, like I did. As for what type of meat to use, there are plenty of options. A chuck roast is great, it has plenty of good fat,which is awesome. I have used top sirloin roasts before. This one was a lean chuck roast. Cut into 1- 2 inch chunks.
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- 1 cup chopped onions I prefer a bigger hearty chop here, but if you want a smaller dice, then do that!
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic I know this seems like a lot, but you want plenty of garlic for depth of flavor!
- 2 quarts beef stock
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon ground sage
- ½ teaspoon salt This is to start, we will adjust seasoning at the end.
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Tony Chachere's seasoning
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 ¼ cup barley I like to use a pearl barley, but that is up to you!
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Sprinkle beef chunks with all-purpose flour. Set aside while your pan is heating.
- Now, heat your pan over medium-high heat until it is good and hot. You will want to sear yout beef, which means you need a hot pan! Once it is hot, pour in your oil. Once the oil is hot, let's start with the beef. I cooked mine in 2 groups. You won't want to overcrowd the pan. If it gets overcrowded you will start stewing your beef instead of searing the beef. So, start with half your beef. Add it to the pan, spaced out and single layer. Let it cook until the is seared on one side, flip and do the same on the other. Remove from pan and add in your next set of beef chunks. Now, if it used all your oil, add in a few more tablespoons. Cook the same way. Once it is finished, return all the beef to the pan.
- Next up, add in your celery and onions. Cook them with your beef for about 3-5 minutes, stirring consistently. Add in the garlic and cook another 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Pour in your beef stock and spices. Mix well. Cook on medium-high, stirring ocassionally for about 30 minutes.
- Rinse your barley and add it to the soup. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes.
- At this point, add in your carrots and peas. Continue to cook another 20 minutes. If the soup starts to thicken too much, add in a cup or 2 of water. Everyone's medium-high is actually a different temp, so your's may run a little higher than mine.
- At this point the barley and beef should be tender.
- Only at this point do we adjust for seasoning. The reason for this is as the soup reduces, those flavors and seasoning will intensify. So, if you have added too much salt to begin with, after the reduction, it is going to really salty!!
- Remove your bay leaves and you are ready to go!
- This soup is best served with fresh bread, cornbread, biscuits, or even crackers.
- If you don't finish it all in one day, which we didn't, it is really good as a leftover as well. Simply store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Now, sit back and enjoy. You deserve it!