Classic Beef Barley Soup Recipe

Beef and Barley Soup
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Ratings (27)
  • Total: 6 hrs 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 6 hrs
  • Yield: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
403 Calories
14g Fat
31g Carbs
39g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

When it's cold outside, having soup is as natural as wrapping yourself in a warm blanket and covering your feet with thermal socks. This classic beef barley recipe is a healthier comfort food that the whole family can enjoy in the fall and winter months. Here we give you a soup that is not too thin and not too thick. It's a hearty combination of vegetables, ground beef, and barley with a taste that will bring back memories. Serve this warm with a rustic loaf of bread or biscuits and a crispy salad.


  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 2/3 cup pearl barley
  • 3 to 4 medium carrots (diced)
  • 3 stalks celery (diced)
  • 1 (28 ounces) can tomatoes
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups  beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • Optional: 1 (10 1/2 ounces) can tomato soup
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Steps to Make It

  1. Brown ground beef, onion, and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat; drain well.

  2. Transfer meat mixture to slow cooker; add barley and remaining ingredients.

  3. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour, then on low 5-6 hours.

  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Cooking Tips and Ingredient Substitutions

  • Given the simplicity of beef barley soup, you can make it more elegant and fancy for a dinner or dress it down for a quick lunch. It's all in the presentation and accompaniments. A lunch might pair the soup with an open-faced sandwich or a couple of boiled eggs, while homemade croutons or a cheese topping could add some pizazz to the soup itself.

  • Adding croutons, fried onions, shredded cabbage or softened cubed potatoes would make the dish look finished and give it the twist it deserves. To make it extra special, pair the soup with a glass of wine and serve with a decadent dessert. Some would skip the dessert and add a cheese plate to the mix. Whatever you decide, make sure you balance the savory flavors in the soup with the other flavor profiles of salty, sweet, bitter and spicy. If you and your guests can handle it, adding spiciness to the meal will really bring out the flavors and make the dish more appealing. A teaspoon or more of ground cayenne pepper would do the trick, but others might add sriracha sauce or the staple red pepper flakes.