Hearty Beef Barley Soup Recipe – Effortless Cooking With Easy Directions

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Savor the rustic charm of our Hearty Harvest Beef Barley Soup! Tender chunks of beef, lovingly simmered with plump barley and a medley of garden-fresh vegetables, create a symphony of flavors in a rich, savory broth. Each spoonful is a comforting embrace, with earthy herbs adding depth and warmth. The chewy barley and succulent beef provide a satisfying dance of textures, promising a wholesome and nourishing experience. This bowl of heartiness is the epitome of home-cooked perfection, a true feast for the soul.

Imagine a bowl of warmth, brimming with vibrant flavors, textures, and enticing aromas that captivate your senses right at the first spoonful.

Welcome to the world of Beef Barley Soup, a culinary masterpiece combining humble grains and a symphony of spices. Discover a flavorful and comforting spicy barley soup recipe. Perfect for chilly days, this recipe will warm you up with every spoonful.

Beef Barley Soup 

This isn’t just another soup recipe – it’s an experience, a journey from the heart of the grain fields to the spark of your stovetop.

The robust and earthy barley harmonizes with the fiery spices, conjuring a dish that is as nourishing as it is tantalizing. 

Our Barley Soup recipe invites you to delve into a new culinary adventure, perfect for heat-seekers yet comforting for those chilly nights.

Let’s embark on this gastronomic journey, transforming simple ingredients into a pot of rich, warming, and utterly delicious Beef Barley Soup.

Here’s how you can create this magic in your kitchen.

What Is Beef Barley Soup?

Beef barley soup is a savory, hot, and hearty dish that combines barley’s robust and earthy flavors with a medley of vegetables and spices.

The term “spicy” in the name usually refers to adding ingredients like cayenne pepper, chili flakes, or other hot spices. Still, the heat level can be adjusted according to personal preference.

The foundation of this soup is barley, a versatile grain known for its chewy texture and nutty flavor. It is often paired with vegetables, such as carrots, celery, onions, and tomatoes, then simmered in a rich broth.

Adding spices adds a kick of heat and deepens the soup’s flavor profile, making it a comforting and satisfying meal.

Spicy barley soup can be a standalone dish due to its hearty nature, but it’s also commonly served as a starter or side. It’s especially popular during colder months, but its bright, spicy flavor can be appreciated all year round.

History And Origin Of  Beef Barley Soup

Can You Vary The Soup With Other Ingredients?

  • Keto 

The ketogenic diet requires low-carb, high-fat foods. Barley is high in carbs and wouldn’t fit into a keto diet. You can replace barley with lower-carb options like cauliflower rice or chopped zucchini. Also, add more high-fat foods such as cream or cheese to the soup.

  • Paleo 

The paleo diet excludes grains, so you must replace the barley. Options could include root vegetables like turnips, parsnips, or cauliflower rice. You might also want to ensure the broth you use is paleo-friendly – homemade would be a great option if available.

  • Gluten-Free 

Barley contains gluten, so for a gluten-free version of this soup, you could substitute the barley with buckwheat, quinoa, or rice (ensure they are labeled gluten-free). Also, double-check that your broth is gluten-free.

  • Whole30 

The Whole30 program excludes grains, legumes, dairy, and added sugars. Replace barley with a compliant vegetable like sweet potatoes or butternut squash. Make sure the broth you use is Whole30-compliant, without any non-compliant additives.

The Soup With Other Ingredients

Recipe Directions

  • Preparation: In a 5-quart Dutch oven or stock pot, combine 1 tbsp canola oil, 2 diced onions, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/4 lb mushrooms, and 2 tbsp vegetable or chicken stock. Sauté over medium heat until onions are tender, around 4-5 minutes. Add more stock if needed to prevent sticking.
  • Sauté: Add sliced carrots, celery, tomato paste, rutabaga or turnip, pearl barley, and a mix of herbs and spices (fresh parsley, bay leaves, dried marjoram, dried thyme, powdered mustard, celery seed, cayenne pepper, and black pepper) to the pot.
  • Bring to Boil: Bring the soup to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for about 1.5 hours until the barley is tender and the soup thickens.
  • Skim: After cooking, discard any excess oil from the soup’s surface with a large spoon.
  • Serve: Optionally, garnish with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for added flavor and creaminess. Enjoy your hearty mushroom barley soup!
your Barley Soup Recipe

Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings

  • Protein Additions: Add grilled chicken, cooked shrimp, diced ham, or tofu for extra protein.
  • Extra Vegetables: Enhance the nutrient content by adding extra veggies such as zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, or kale.
  • Grains/Pasta: Besides barley, add other grains like rice, quinoa, or even small pasta shapes.
  • Beans/Legumes: Beans like black beans, chickpeas, or lentils can add protein and fiber.
  • Different Spices: Experiment with different spices or herbs to change the flavor profile. Try adding turmeric for its health benefits, or some thyme or rosemary for a more robust flavor.
  • Cheese: Stirring in a little grated Parmesan or cheddar cheese can add a lovely richness.
  • Creaminess: For a creamier soup, stir in some cream, coconut milk, or a dollop of Greek yogurt (ensure it’s dairy-free for vegan diets).
  • Heat: For extra spiciness, add more cayenne pepper, some fresh jalapenos, or a dash of hot sauce.
Beef Barley Soup

Can I Make Soup In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?

Slow Cooker

  • Start by sautéing the onions, garlic, and mushrooms in a pan with the oil and a bit of stock, just like in the original recipe.
  • Once the onions are tender, transfer everything to the slow cooker and add all the remaining ingredients.
  • Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, or until the barley is tender and the soup has thickened.
  • Before serving, skim off any excess oil and add optional cheese garnish, if desired.

Instant Pot

  • Set your Instant Pot to the Sauté setting and heat the oil. Add the onions, garlic, mushrooms, and a bit of stock, and cook until the onions are tender.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, secure the lid, and set the pressure release to Sealing.
  • Select the Soup or Manual setting and set the cooking time for 25 minutes at high pressure. (The pot will take about 10 minutes to come up to pressure before the cooking program begins.)
  • When the cooking program ends, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam.
  • Open the pot, skim off any excess oil, and add optional cheese garnish before serving.
 Use Different Types Of Meat/Fish/Pasta/Vegetables

Can I Use Store Bought Broth Or Should I Make My Own?

Store-Bought Broth

  • This is a convenient option and can save a lot of time, especially if you’re in a hurry. Look for low-sodium versions, as these allow you to control the salt content of your soup more effectively. Also, choose organic if it fits within your budget.

Homemade Broth

  • This allows for the most control over flavor and ingredients. If you have the time and ingredients available, homemade broth can add a depth of flavor to your soup that’s hard to match with store-bought options.

Ultimately, the choice between store-bought and homemade broth comes down to your personal preference, time constraints, and dietary needs.

Barley Soup Recipe

How To Serve?

  • Use a Good Bowl: Choose a deep bowl that complements the color of the soup. Consider using a contrasting color to make the soup pop.
  • Add Garnish: A sprinkle of fresh parsley, a dollop of sour cream, or a few drops of olive oil on top can add visual appeal. If you used cheese, add a little extra on top before serving.
  • Serve with Accompaniments: A slice of rustic bread or a side salad can be a great accompaniment to soup. Not only does it make the meal more filling, but it also adds to the overall presentation when served on a nice plate or board.
  • Warm the Bowl: A nice touch is to warm the bowl slightly before serving the soup. This keeps the soup warmer for longer and adds a professional touch.
  • Clean the Edges: After ladling the soup into the bowl, clean the edges for a neat and tidy presentation.
 Barley Soup Recipe

Perfect Side Dishes

  • Crusty Bread: A piece of crusty bread like baguette or sourdough is perfect for sopping up any remaining soup in the bowl. A garlic bread or a cheese toastie would also pair nicely.
  • Green Salad: A light, refreshing green salad with a simple vinaigrette can contrast the soup’s hearty, warm nature.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Roasted root vegetables or a medley of your favorite seasonal veggies can complement the soup and add a variety of textures to the meal.
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwich: A classic pairing, the crunchy, cheesy sandwich and a bowl of soup make for a comforting meal.
  • Quiche Or Savory Tart: A small slice of quiche or a savory tart can add a touch of elegance to your soup meal.
  • Flatbread: Pita, naan, or another type of flatbread could be used to scoop up the soup and would add a nice element of texture.
Barley Soup Recipe

Storage And Make Ahead


  • Once cooked, allow soup to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container.
  • Refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze for longer storage.
  • To reheat, simply thaw frozen soup in the refrigerator overnight before reheating on the stove or in the microwave until piping hot.

Make Ahead

  • Prepare the soup as directed, but undercook the barley slightly to prevent it from becoming mushy upon reheating.
  • Cool soup completely before refrigerating or freezing.
  • When ready to serve, reheat on the stove, adding extra broth or water if needed, and finish cooking the barley until tender.
Barley Soup Recipe

What Can We Do With Leftovers?

  • Repurpose Into Another Soup Or Stew: If you’ve grown tired of the same flavor, you can easily add some new ingredients to your leftover soup to change it up. Add some different vegetables, protein, or spices to transform it into a fresh soup or stew.
  • Use as a Sauce: You can puree the soup and use it as a sauce for dishes like pasta, grains, or protein. Just heat it up and toss it with your preferred ingredient.
  • Stir It Into a Casserole: Leftover soup can be a great addition to a casserole. Use it as a base, add some proteins, grains, and extra veggies, then bake until bubbly and golden.
  • Create a Pasta Dish: You can cook down the soup until it thickens and toss it with pasta for a hearty main dish. Add some grated cheese on top for extra flavor.
  • Make a Risotto or Grain Dish: Use the soup as a flavorful liquid to cook grains like rice, quinoa, or bulgur. This can add a lot of flavor to your dish.
  • Use as a Base for Curry or Stir-fry: The soup can provide a flavorful vegetable or protein curry base. Similarly, it can be reduced and used as a sauce in a stir-fry.
  • Freeze for Later: If you can’t use the leftover soup immediately, consider freezing it for future use. It can be stored in the freezer for 2-3 months without losing much quality.


  • Choose the Right Cut of Beef: Opt for tougher cuts like chuck roast or stew meat. These cuts become tender and flavorful when simmered for a long time, making them perfect for soups.
  • Brown the Beef: Before adding it to the soup, brown the beef in batches. This adds a depth of flavor to the soup as it caramelizes the meat and adds a rich, savory taste.
  • Use Homemade Beef Stock: While store-bought beef broth works fine, homemade beef stock adds an extra layer of flavor. If you have the time, consider making your own stock by simmering beef bones with vegetables and aromatics for several hours.
  • Pre-Soak the Barley: If you have the time, soak the barley in water for a few hours or overnight. This can help reduce the cooking time and ensures a more evenly cooked barley.
  • Vegetable Variation: While the classic Beef Barley soup typically includes carrots and celery, feel free to add other vegetables like potatoes, peas, or spinach for added nutrition and flavor.
  • Garnish: Before serving, garnish each bowl of soup with a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for a touch of freshness and visual appeal.
Hearty Beef Barley Soup Recipe - Effortless Cooking With Easy Directions

Hearty Beef Barley Soup Recipe – Effortless Cooking With Easy Directions

5 from 12 votes
Recipe by Hanna Barnes Course: Soup Recipes


Prep time


Cooking time





Barley Soup Recipe is a flavorful, hearty dish that warms you from the inside out. This soup showcases the chewy texture of barley, the richness of a vegetable-based broth, and a blend of savory herbs and spices.


  • 1 Tbsp 1 Canola Oil

  • 2 2 Large Onions, Diced

  • 1 1 Large Garlic Clove, Minced

  • 1/4 lb 1/4 Fresh Cremini / Button Mushrooms, Sliced

  • 8 Cups 8 Vegetable Stock (Or Chicken Stock)

  • 1 1 Large Carrot, Thinly Sliced

  • 2 2 Large Celery Stalks, Thinly Slice

  • 3 Tbsp 3 Tomato Paste

  • 1/2 Cup 1/2 Rutabaga Or Turnip, Peeled And Dice

  • 1/4 Cup 1/4 Pearl Barley

  • 1/4 Cup 1/4 Fresh Parsley Leaves, Roughly Chopped

  • 2 2 Large Bay Leaves

  • 1 Tsp 1 Dried Marjoram Leaves

  • 1/2 Tsp 1/2 Dried Thyme Leaf

  • 1/2 Tsp 1/2 Powdered Mustard

  • 1/4 Tsp 1/4 Celery Seed

  • Cayenne Pepper (More Or Less, To Taste)

  • 1/4 Tsp 1/4 Black Pepper, Or To Taste

  • 1/2 Cup 1/2 Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese (Optional)

  • For Garnishing 
  • 2 Tablespoons 2 Fresh Parsley (Chopped)

  • 2 Tablespoons 2 Fresh Cilantro (Chopped)

  • Lemon Wedges (As Per Preference)

  • 2 Tablespoons 2 Grated Parmesan

  • 2 Tablespoons 2 Sour Cream

  • 2 Tablespoons 2 Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper (To Taste)

  • Red Pepper Flakes (To Taste)

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Prepare
    Start by preparing your 5-quart Dutch oven or a small stock pot. You’ll want to combine 1 tablespoon of canola oil, 2 large diced onions, 1 large minced garlic clove, 1/4 lb of fresh cremini or button mushrooms, and 2 tablespoons of the stock of your choice—vegetable or chicken. 
    Cook this mixture over medium heat, ensuring you stir frequently. The aim is for the onions to become tender, which should take about 4-5 minutes. If you notice the vegetables starting to stick to the bottom of your pot, don’t worry; add a few more tablespoons of your chosen stock to loosen them.
  • Saute
    Once the onions are tender, it’s time to add all the remaining ingredients into your pot. This includes your sliced carrot and celery, the tomato paste, your choice of rutabaga or turnip, pearl barley, your assortment of herbs and spices (including fresh parsley leaves, bay leaves, dried marjoram leaves, dried thyme leaf, powdered mustard, celery seed, cayenne pepper, and black pepper), and the rest of your stock. Stir everything well, ensuring the tomato paste is fully incorporated into the soup.
  • Bring It To Boil
    Next, bring your soup to a boil. Once boiling, cover your pot, lower the heat to a simmer, and allow your soup to cook for around 1 and 1/2 hours. You’re looking for the barley to become tender and the soup to thicken lightly.
  • Skim
    After the soup has finished cooking, you’ll want to skim any excess oil from the surface of the soup using a large spoon and discard it. This step ensures your soup is manageable and maintains a pleasant texture
  • Serve
    If you wish, you can finish your soup with a garnish of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. This optional step can add a lovely depth of flavor and a creamy texture to your soup.
  • Large Pot or Dutch Oven
  • Knife and Cutting Board
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons
  • Wooden Spoon or Spatula
  • Ladle
  • Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker
  • Immersion Blender


  • Choosing The Right Barley: Use pearl barley for this soup. It has a wonderful chewy texture that pairs well with the soup’s spicy notes.
  • Adjusting The Spice: The spice level in this recipe is mild to medium. If you prefer a milder soup, reduce the amount of cayenne pepper. Conversely, if you like it hot, feel free to add more!
  • Addition Of Protein: For a more substantial meal, consider adding a protein like cooked chicken, tofu, or beans to your soup.
  • Varying Vegetables: While the recipe suggests specific vegetables, feel free to use what you have on hand or prefer. Root vegetables, green beans, peas, or even leafy greens like spinach or kale would work well.
  • Preparation Ahead: This soup tastes even better the next day as the flavors have more time to meld together. It’s perfect for meal prep or for making in advance of a dinner party.
  • Serving Suggestion: This soup is very hearty and can be served as a meal on its own. However, it pairs nicely with a simple green salad and a piece of crusty bread.

Nutrition Table

Beef Barley Soup nutrition table

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