An easy and delicious dump-and-go crock pot beef barley soup recipe with tender stew meat, beef broth, vegetables, and plump barley. Use any size slow cooker, from mini crock pots to full-size.
The perfect cold-weather comfort food even beginners can make.
Beef—well-trimmed chuck roast or stew meat
Barley—either pearl or husked barley, but not quick bar
Aromatics—garlic and onion
Vegetables—celery, carrots, and potatoes
Pantry ingredients—vegetable oil, tomato paste, beef broth, salt, and black pepper
Featured Comment from Josephine:
"I have made this numerous times since I found the recipe in 2019. It is an all-time favorite for every occasion."
This beef barley soup recipe keeps it simple for beginners with stew meat, simple tomatoey beef broth, a few spices, chopped vegetables, and barley.
It requires no attention; no add this or shred that in the middle—just a few minutes of preparation in the morning for an easy dinner in the evening. But options are provided to make it your own and enhance the flavors.
👨🍳How to Make Beef Barley Soup in a Crock Pot
- Use pre-cut beef stew meat or chuck roast trimmed into 1-inch cubes. Brown if you want in oil to add more flavor.
- While the meat is browning, trim and chop the celery, carrots, and potatoes.
- Add all the ingredients to your slow cooker with some barley and stir well.
- Cook for 8 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high.
This is a summary of the steps and ingredients. See the recipe card or the step-by-step photo instructions below for complete instructions.
✔️Tips to Make it Right Every Time
- Browning the beef will create a Maillard reaction that does add a lot of flavors, so I spent 5 minutes browning and then added the garlic to bloom for a minute or two near the end of browning.
- If you don't use a non-stick pan, you might need to add a little broth after moving the beef to deglaze the pan.
- 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 husked barley works here.
- Other vegetables may be added. Try some frozen green beans, corn, or peas added in the last hour of cooking.
- Other flavors can be added with basil, bay leaves, oregano, and dry thyme.
↕️How to make this a "for two" or "family size" recipe
This is an easy recipe to cut in half or double.
The full recipe makes about 7-8 cups, which I call four large servings, and fits in a 3 to 4-quart crock pot. I make this for our "for two" household to have one round of leftovers.
To Adjust the size of the recipe in the recipe card
- Use the recipe card and adjust the number of servings to half or double.
- Use the amount of ingredients in the ingredient list, not the instructions—those do not adjust.
- The half recipe will fit in a 2-quart mini crock pot; a double recipe requires a 6-quart or larger crock pot.
- Cook for the same amount of time.
How to store leftovers
Store leftovers in an airtight container. Refrigerate for 4 days or freeze for 3 months.
Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop over medium heat.
Use ½ cup of pearl barley. It will seem like that would not be much. It will take up a lot of space, about the maximum you want.
Most recipes add the barley at the beginning of cooking. But if you want firmer barley, add it halfway through cooking.
Yes—a quick rinse under running water before cooking will wash away any dust or debris from the milling process.
You may and can add it at the end, but if the barley is cooked in the soup, it thickens and adds more taste. If you want to cook ahead, boil in water for 20-30 minutes.
Hulled barley has had the outer indigestible husk removed but otherwise is unprocessed—it is considered a whole grain.
Pearl barley has had the bran layer removed also. It is not whole grain and is less nutritious. It will appear shinier since it is polished. This is the most common type of barley.
Instant or quick barley has been partly cooked and then dried. Very much like minute rice. It cooks in 10 to 15 minutes and should not be used in this recipe.
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
Have you tried this recipe, or have a question? Join the community discussion in the comments.
Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Note: The pictures are for a "double" recipe. The recipe card and the discussion are a single recipe.
Use a chuck roast or stew meat.
If using chuck roast, trim and cut about 1 pound into bite-size pieces. Store-bought stew meat will be fine, also.
Optional browning: Heat 1 tablespoon of 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.
Dice 2 ribs of celery, 1 medium potato, 1 ½ carrots, and 1 medium onion. Add to a 3 to 4-quart or larger crock pot.
Add 3 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and ½ cup uncooked rinsed barley. Finally, add 4-5 cups of low-sodium 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
- 2 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 - low sodium
- Start with about 1 pound of chuck roast. Trim and cut into bite-size pieces. Store-bought stew meat will be fine also.
- Optional browning: 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.
- Dice 2 ribs of celery, 1 medium potato, 1 ½ carrots, and one medium onion. Add to a 3 ½ quart or larger 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.
Your Own Private Notes
- The pictures are double the written instructions.
- You can skip the whole skillet and browning part, 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 the barley under running water before cooking to remove dust or debris.
- Add a can of diced tomatoes, but use 4 cups of broth.
- A cup of frozen green beans may also be added during the last hour of cooking.
- If you like your barley firmer, 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. A half recipe will work in a 2-quart mini crock pot.
- It is good in the refrigerator for 4 days but will freeze well for 3 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.