This hearty beef barley soup recipe has chunks of tender beef and vegetable with plump and tender barley. This easy comfort food only needs a few minutes of preparation, and your slow cooker will do the rest.
Do you need an easy, hardy soup for the cold weather? This beef barley soup recipe requires no intention. No add this or shred that in the middle—just a few minutes of preparation in the morning for an easy dinner.
So I looked around a little. I starred at my Crock Pot Vegetable Beef Soup.
My wife had some definite ideas. Mostly garlic, she craves garlic, and this needed garlic. Also, she was not looking for a vegetable beef soup with barley: no green beans and no tomatoes. OK, I can do that.
I also have potatoes in this recipe. It improves the texture and thickens some. By adding the potatoes, you can now also call this beef barley stew if you want.
How To Make Beef Barley Soup?
This is not an intimidating recipe. All you need are a few knife skills and a crock pot.
- Start with an optional browning of cubes of chuck roast or stew meat to add even more flavor if you have time.
- While the meat is browning, chop the vegetables of your choice.
- Dump in your slow cooker with some barley.
- Cook for 8 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high.
It's a nice high 4 or lower 5. My wife had two servings—high praise so it gets a five.
Pearl barley is the most common form of barley available. Pearl barley has the outer husk, and bran layers have been removed. Pearl barley is softer but lacks a bit of nutrition. Either pearl or husk barley works here.
The amount of barley I suggested is ½ cup. It seems like that would not be much. It will take up a lot of space, so that is about the maximum you want.
I will say yes—a quick rinse under running water before cooking washes away any dust or debris from the milling process.
You can and then add it at the end, but if the barley is cooked in the soup, it thickens the soup and adds more taste. If you want to cook ahead, then boil in water for 20-30 minutes.
Most recipes, and I, suggest adding the barley at the beginning of cooking. But if you want firmer barley, add it halfway through cooking.
You may use store-trimmed stew meat, but I like to use a chuck roast and trim it myself.
I like to brown the beef in recipes like this. The Maillard reaction does add a lot of flavors, so I spent 5 minutes browning, and then I added the garlic to bloom it for a minute or two.
If you don't use a non-stick pan, you might need to add a little broth to the pan after moving the beef to deglaze the pan.
👨🍳Crock Pot and Recipe Size
The recipe is written should fit nicely in a 3 ½-4 qt. crock pot. If you do the "double" size, then a full size 6-8 qt. crock pot would be good.
I had a 2 pound plus chuck roast, and the recipes I used to model used 2 pounds. That makes way too much for a "cooking for two" website.
The pictures show the "double" two pounds of the beef size of the recipe, but all the discussion is for my suggested "cooking for two" size with one pound of beef.
This is a hearty soup, and even the smaller recipe can need storage.
This is fine refrigerated for 3-4 days. If sealed well, it will freeze for 3-4 months.
📖Crock Pot Soup Recipes
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Note: The pictures are for a "double" recipe. The recipe card and the discussion are not for the double recipe.
I forgot the tomato paste for the photo.
Start with about 1 pound of chuck roast. Trim and cut into bite-size pieces. Store-bought stew meat will be fine also.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the beef to brown for about 5 minutes. Add 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic for the last minute of browning. Move to a crock pot. You can skip this and just add everything if you wish.
Dice 2 ribs of celery, 1 medium potato, 1 ½ carrots, and one medium onion. Add to crock pot.
Add 3 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and ½ cup uncooked rinsed barley. Finally, add 4-5 cups beef broth.
Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
Crock Pot Beef Barley Soup
- 1 pound chuck roast or stew meat - cubed or use stew meat
- 1-2 cloves garlic - crushed or minced
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 rib celery
- 1 ½ carrots - medium
- 1 onion - medium
- 1 potato - medium
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon salt - to taste
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup uncooked barley - rinsed
- 4-5 cups beef broth
- Start with about 1 pound of chuck roast. Trim and cut into bite-size pieces. Store-bought stew meat will be fine also.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the beef to brown for about 5 minutes. Add 1-2 cloves of crushed garlic for the last minute of browning. Move to a crock pot. This uses a 3 ½ quart or larger crock pot. You can skip this and just add everything if you wish.
- Dice 2 ribs of celery, 1 medium potato, 1 ½ carrots, and one medium onion. Add to crock pot.
- Add 3 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and ½ cup uncooked rinsed barley. Finally, add 4-5 cups beef broth.
- Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
- The pictures are double the written instructions.
- You can skip the whole skillet and browning part and just add everything to the crock pot and still have excellent soup.
- The barley was a little heavy. You can decrease by 25% if you want.
- Either pearl or barley with husk may be used.
- Rinse under running water before cooking to wash away any dust or debris.
- Add a can of diced tomatoes if you want but use 4 cups of broth.
- A cup full of green beans may also be added.
- If you like your barley firm, then add it halfway through cooking and not at the beginning.
- As written, this will fit into a smaller 3 ½ quart crock pot. Use a 6-8 qt crock pot if doubling.
- Good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days but will freeze well for 3-4 months.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Originally Published December 3, 2016. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.