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This Beef Barley Soup is an easy, hearty dinner idea that is loaded with tender chunks of beef, barley and vegetables. It’s a healthy meal that is perfect for making ahead for a busy week!

With fall coming and school back in session (or getting close!), we’re loving all the cozy, healthy soups! If you are too, you might enjoy this Crockpot Taco Soup, this Creamy Chicken Broccoli Soup or this Egg Drop Soup!

beef barley soup in pot

Beef Barley Soup

This Beef Barley Soup is really one of the best, heartiest meals for fall, winter or just a chilly summer day.

It’s thick and rich and loaded with flavor, thanks to those browned chunks of beef and tender vegetables.

It’s also an easy recipe to customize, and swap out my vegetables for your favorites or almost anything you have on hand that you need to get out of the fridge.

The flavors of the vegetables and the beef simmer together to give the broth the most incredible flavor — perfect for dunking that crusty bread! — so the more vegetables you throw in, the more flavor it will have!

beef barley soup in bowl overhead

How to make Beef Barley Soup:

  1. Start by browning your chunks of beef in a bit of oil — this gives the soup an incredible flavor base so don’t skip this part! You may have to do this in a couple batches to ensure they brown and don’t steam.
  2. Add your onions and spices and give them a quick toast in the pan — this wakes up dried spices and helps bring out their flavor.
  3. Add your vegetables, your broth, and your barley and simmer just until everything is tender. This can take a little time, so plan accordingly and enjoy the amazing scent that will fill your kitchen!

beef barley soup in bowl

Which type of barley is best for soup?

Pearl barley is my preferred type of barley for this soup, as it is hearty and less processed than quick cooking barley, but it doesn’t take nearly as long to cook as hulled barley.

Pearl barley and quick cooking barley are the two types you’ll generally find on your grocery store shelves, and either will work in this recipe but they have different cook times.

Pearl barley cooks for 25-35 minutes, and quick cooking barley can be ready in 10-15 minutes.

I like the longer simmering time for this soup, as it allows the flavors to come together.

Looking for more easy soup recipes? Try these:

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Beef Barley Soup

4.89 from 9 votes
By: Ashley Fehr
This Beef Barley Soup is an easy, hearty dinner idea that is loaded with tender chunks of beef, barley and vegetables. It's a healthy meal that is perfect for making ahead for a busy week!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 6 servings



  • In a large dutch oven or soup pot, brown meat in oil over medium-high heat, just until browned on each side, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  • Add onion, carrots, and celery and cook and stir 3-4 minutes, just until onion is translucent.
  • Add garlic, salt, thyme and pepper and cook and stir 1 minute.
  • Stir in broth, barley, tomato paste and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, add in meat, cover and simmer for 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until barley and carrots are tender.
  • Serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley if desired.


Calories: 343kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 20gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 1087mgPotassium: 886mgFiber: 5gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 5215IUVitamin C: 5.4mgCalcium: 44mgIron: 2.7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic!




About Ashley Fehr

Ashley loves all kinds of food: easy, healthy dinners, extravagant desserts, baked goods, and homemade breads! She believes in enjoying everything in moderation and strives to find ways to make her favorite foods a little healthier (including sneaking in those veggies occasionally!)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I use this recipe as a guide and pretty much follow it but use 2 lbs of beef tender instead of one pound of chuck, 64 oz of beef broth, half pound of mushrooms quartered, a half pound of frozen peas and three tablespoons of medium Pace chunky salsa.

  2. 5 stars
    I made this soup once before some years back and it was DELISH! Going to be making this little gem for supper this evening, even though it’s Summer I still love a good hearty soup now and then and this one’s a winner!

  3. 5 stars
    Just made this tonight in the instant pot. The seasonings were perfect. Here is what I did:
    Turn the instant pot to sauté. When it becomes hot add oil and follow steps 1 through 4 as directed. Press cancel and add everything else to the pot and stir. Place the lid on the pot, press soup/broth and cook for 25 minutes under pressure. natural release for 10 to 15 minutes.

  4. 5 stars
    So far so good! The soup has a very rich flavor! I’m trying to be less of a “cook by feel” person and more of a “follow the darn directions” person, but I never saw in the recipe when to add the beef back into the soup!!! I also added sliced, chopped mushrooms with the veggies. This recipe is a keeper!!!

    1. Hi Elizabeth, when do you put the beef back? I assume with the broth and tomato paste but you never know!!! tnx!!