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Beef Barley Soup

I love a good, hearty beef barley soup, especially during cold winter nights. This easy beef barley soup is made with tender beef, pearl barley, mushrooms, and more! It's very easy to make and the ingredients can be prepared ahead as well. Plus, it freezes really well!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs 10 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beef barley soup
Servings: 8 people
Author: Tania

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into small ½ inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil for pan
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, small diced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 to 6 cups beef broth, plus more as needed
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup pearl barley
  • Fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions

  • Season the beef with 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
  • Over medium high heat, heat a few drizzles of olive oil on a large 6 or 8 quart Dutch oven pot. Sear the beef on all sides until nicely browned. Do this in batches to not overcrowd the pan (this will prevent steaming). Tip: If you notice that it begins to steam up, remove the excess liquid and continue browning.
  • Transfer the browned meat to a plate and set aside. It will not be fully cooked at this point. Leave the brown bits, don’t wipe the pot clean.
  • To the pot, add a few more drizzles of olive oil, and over medium high heat, cook the onions, celery and carrots for about 10 minutes until softened. The moisture from the veggies will release the brown bits (left from searing the meat) and add a lot of flavor.
  • Add the minced garlic, mushrooms, and fresh thyme leaves. Cook for another 2 minutes until fragrant, stirring.
  • Stir in the canned diced tomatoes and the Worcestershire sauce. Return the cooked meat to the pot. Add 5 cups of beef broth and 1 cup of water, and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, with the lid covered.
  • After that, stir in the pearl barley. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for another 40-45 minutes with the lid covered, or until the barley is fully cooked and tender. Stir occasionally. If needed, add more broth and/or water (check a few times if more liquid is needed because barley tends to absorb liquid). Tip: for more tender barley, cook for an additional 10 minutes or so.
  • Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with some fresh parsley or thyme as garnish. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Special equipment: Large 6 or 8 quart Dutch oven or pot.
  • Use pearl barley, not hulled barley.
  • Storing: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. When reheating, add some broth to the soup (the barley will continue to absorb the liquid overnight).
  • Make-ahead tips: The veggies can be diced ahead of time and stored in the fridge. If desired, you can also pre-cook the barley in advance, but the soup won't be as thick (cooking barley releases starch).
  • Freezing instructions: Make the soup from start to finish. Let the soup cool down completely, and divide up into smaller freezer-friendly containers. Thaw in the fridge overnight. Reheat in a small pot or microwave.