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Beef & Barley Soup

Just saying the words beef and barley soup lets us know we’re in for a hearty meal, in this bowlful of savory beef and vegetables against a barley backdrop.


a bowl of homemade Beef & barley soup with spoon made with vegetables, spices, broth, tomato paste and soy sauce
Photography by Gayle McLeod

Our Best Ever Beef And Barley Soup

This classic beef soup gets a tasty twist with the addition of barley, a hearty grain that retains its chewiness when cooked in soup. Wondering what kind of beef is used for soup? We recommend using chuck roast, which is a great budget friendly cut, because it yields a tender bite when slow-cooked. Add vegetables–in this case the classic onion, celery, carrot soup trio–and a flavorful tomato beef broth, and you’re on your way to a delicious beef and vegetable soup with barley. We also add a tablespoon of soy sauce, to pack a nice umami punch (that savory flavor that makes everyone want another bowl of soup).

roast, spices, vegetables, tomato paste, bouillon, stock, soy sauce & barley in bowls to make beef & barley soup
chuck roast seasoned with salt being browned in a pot with olive oil
onion, carrots and celery being cooked in a pot with olive oil for beef & barley soup
carrots, onion, celery, tomato paste, bouillon, thyme, beef stock, soy sauce and beef being cooked in a pot

Do You Cook Barley Before Adding To Soup?

Perfectly cooked barley has a satisfying toothsome texture, and we add uncooked pearl barley directly to the soup’s overall cooking time. You can even use quick-cooking barley, but just keep in mind that it requires far less cooking time than regular barley (ten minutes versus thirty minutes). Just add it closer to the end of the soup’s total simmering time! Adding barley to this soup provides more than just texture–it’s also a great source of calcium and fiber.

barley being added into a pot of homemade beef & barley soup
a pot of homemade beef & barley soup made with tomato paste, bouillon & stock, soy sauce, vegetables and spices

How To Make Homemade Beef And Barley Soup

We start this soup by cooking the beef, and then using the juice from the meat to cook our vegetables. Everything gets added back to the pot with stock and seasonings, with the barley going in last.

  1. Brown the beef (we use chuck roast) in oil, about fifteen minutes. Remove from the pan, and transfer to a plate.

  2. Add oil to the juices left in the pot from cooking the meat, and cook the onion, carrots and celery until soft. Toss in the garlic, and stir until fragrant, about another minute.

  3. It’s time for the soup part of this beef and barley soup recipe, add the tomato paste and bouillon to the pot and give it a good stir. Add seasonings, stirring well to combine. Next, add the cooked beef and any juice on the plate, and bring the soup to a boil.

  4. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 60 minutes. Add the barley and cook until tender and the beef is falling apart, about thirty minutes.

  5. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with a couple cracks of fresh pepper and a sprinkle of fresh parsley. And we dare you not to serve this with a crunchy loaf of bread smothered in butter.

a pot of homemade beef & barley soup being stirred with a spoon made with tomato paste, soy sauce, vegetables and spices
a bowl of homemade beef & barley soup with a spoon surrounded by crusty bread for serving

Tools You’ll Need

Are You On A Soup Kick? We Have More Great Recipes For Ya!

When the temperature dips, we want to eat everything out of a bowl with a spoon. Here’s more warming soup recipes to keep you going:

a bowl of homemade beef & barley soup with a spoon surrounded by crusty bread for serving

Soup It Up And Share Your Pics!

We’d love to see your plentiful beef and barley soup bowls and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you feed it to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Save us a spoonful!

Beef & Barley Soup

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  20 min
  • Cook Time:  1 hr 50 min
  • Calories: 444


  • 3 pounds chuck roast, trimmed cut into ¾ -inch pieces
  • kosher salt, for beef, plus more for serving
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon or better than bouillon
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, plus more for serving
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • minced flat-leaf parsley, optional


  1. Season the beef generously with kosher salt. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot or Dutch oven set over medium high heat. When the oil is glistening, add the beef in batches until browned on all sides, taking care not to crowd the pan, about 15 minutes total. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a plate.

  2. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, along with the onion, carrots and celery and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. If the bottom of the pan is beginning to burn, use 2-3 tablespoons of the beef stock to deglaze, loosening the browned bits. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute longer. Add the tomato paste and bouillon, stir to combine. Add the thyme, beef stock, soy sauce and the beef, along with any juices from the plate, bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered for 60 minutes.

  3. Add the barley and cook for 30 more minutes, uncovered simmering, until tender.*

  4. Serve with freshly cracked black pepper and flat leaf parsley if desired.

    *Note: If using quick cooking barley, simmer the meat for a total of 80 minutes then add the barley and simmer for an additional 10 minutes, or until tender.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories444
  • Protein57 g
  • Carbohydrates20 g
  • Total Fat15 g
  • Dietary Fiber4 g
  • Cholesterol120 mg
  • sodium512 mg
  • Total Sugars3 g

Beef & Barley Soup

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Becky

    How many will it serve?

    Serves 8.

  • Darling

    Is there a substitute for the bullion?

    There isn't a great substitute for it in this recipe, it adds a lot of flavor.

  • Roberta

    I love beef barley soup, but because of a gluten allergy, barley is one of the grains I can not have. Can you suggest a hearty grain substitute?

    Any grain that you are able to have will work fine!

  • Allie

    Am I cooking the soup for 60 minutes before adding the barley for 30 more minutes?

    Yes. Hope you enjoy Allie!

  • Ashley

    Have farrow at home, thinking it should work around the same cooking time as the barley?

    We haven't tried this recipe with farro yet we'd love to know how it turns out if you try it!

  • Lee

    Like most soups and stews this is even better the next day. I highly recommend adding green beans at the end.

    Thanks Lee, glad you loved it!

  • Christina

    I made this for dinner tonight! Wow, the meat was sooo good the broth my boyfriend wanted to drink! This will be my go to soup recipe!

    Thanks Christina, we are so glad you both loved it!

  • Katherine Graham

    My 80 year old mother adores this recipe. I am making it for the third time in a month - it is easy to prepare. I use twice the carrots and thin out the leftovers with broth for her meal the following day.

    Aw this is so sweet, thank you Katherine! So happy she loves it!

  • Jayme

    This is a staple in our house. So much depth of flavor! I cook the barley separately in beef stock, and add it as we eat the soup. Freezes well and is “fancy” enough for company

    Thanks Jayme, that is so great to hear!

  • Jess

    This was delicious! Great for a snowy night with plenty of time to cook. Speaking of time, I did need to let the soup simmer for an extra 30 minutes or so to make the meat as tender as it should be. I used chuck roast, but I think I trimmed off too much fat when I was dicing it up. I also swapped 1 pound of sliced baby bella mushrooms for 1 pound of beef, that worked so well I may try only mushrooms next time for something different.

    Thanks Jess, glad you loved it and that your swaps worked well!