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Beef & Barley Soup

January 3, 2024

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

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

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

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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.



    Nope, we just season with salt before browning it in this recipe. Hope you enjoy Sheri.

  • Allison

    Can I use canned venison for this recipe? If so do I need to add garlic as I have used it in the venison. I would need to cut the cooking time down as well? Want to make this dish for Church. Thanks.

    I don't see why not. Go ahead and skip the garlic if you think you have enough in the venison already. Enjoy!

  • Hollie

    Could you do this in a crock pot? If so, how long would it cook and when would you add the barley?

    You could. We'd recommend still browning the beef in a skillet. Then add everything to a slow cooker and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8. Hope you enjoy!

  • Miki

    Where do I find the barley, (what is it called when not processed)? I can only find the quick barley in the local grocery stores. (LOL! most of the employees have no idea what I am looking for). Thank you

    It's called pearl barley. The brand Bob's Red Mill has it which is sold in most stores. Hope you can find it Miki!

  • Ashley

    If I made this a few hours prior to dinner time, could I let it sit on the stove for a bit and reheat after 3-4hrs?

    sure! Hope you enjoy!

  • Lonnie

    This is by far the best beef barley soup I've ever had
    I've been cooking for more that 65 years and have often made beef barley soup
    This is totally awesome

    Thanks Lonnie, we are so happy you loved it!

  • Jessy

    Delicious! The flavours blend beautifully and the beef was so tender. The only change I made was that I reduced the barley to half a cup only for my preference of a more brothy soup. So so good. Highly recommend for people to make

    Thanks Jessy, we are so glad you loved it!

  • Cindy

    I cut the recipe by 2/3 because I’m only cooking for 2. This gave me 1 night and leftovers. The only thing I added was seasoned salt because I didn’t have kosher salt. The recipe was delicious and I loved every bite.

    Thanks Cindy, so happy you loved it!

  • Ingrid

    This was excellent! We will definitely make it again and cannot wait to try your other soup recipes!!

    Thanks Ingrid, so happy you love it!

  • Sandy

    This is a great recipe love the addition of the beef bouillon and soy. I fried the beef in bigger pieces as I read it could get tough in smaller pieces then cut up. Thank you!!!

    Thanks Sandy, we are so happy you love it!