Hearty, Healthy Beef Barley Soup

by Pamela

beef barley soup, homemade soup, chuck roast

I think beef barley soup gets a bad rap sometimes. Let’s face it…it’s brown, kinda drab looking and something we’ve all eaten since we were kids. It doesn’t have a bunch of fancy ingredients in it. In fact, it’s usually a soup that we throw together using a cut of beef that’s usually on sale, chuck roast. So it’s one of those dollar stretching recipes. But why not make a homemade soup that’s a little more special than what you are used to eating? If you’re making it yourself, you can do things that make the ho-hum more hoo hah!

Of course you’re thinking that I’m going to take an easy to make soup recipe and turn it into something that’s time consuming and expensive…so of course it would taste better. But big surprise, I’m not. No this beef barley soup recipe is still easy to make and one of those fairly inexpensive dollar stretching dinner recipes.

Since chuck roast is usually on sale at one of our local grocery stores, that’s the cut of meat I use in this soup. By the time this cooks in the soup, it’s meltingly tender so don’t worry about it being tough. In addition to the barley in the soup, I also add some lentils as another way to bulk up the soup and to add some more protein. What else is special about this beef barley soup? Instead of only using onions, there is a combination of onions and leeks and I stir in some Sherry to give it just a hint of flavor that no one is able to figure out…but it’s fantastic with this rich soup.

Chuck Roast Beef Barley Soup

While this homemade soup was bubbling away on the stove, I had the dog sprawled out in the middle of the kitchen floor. While that may not sound strange to you, our ‘little’ beast is not a fan of being in the kitchen. I had to step over her almost the entire time I was making this. (Especially when I was browning the chuck roast…I could practically hear her begging me to drop some beef on the floor for her.) I suppose it has something to do with all the beef that’s in it. The other obstacle in kitchen, while I was making this was Craig. He too only shows up in the kitchen when he smells something he likes. I was beating him off with a wooden spoon. Between the two of them, I was really surprised there was anything left in the pot to call soup. (He was sneaking bits of meat for himself and the dog.)

Relationship Advice

Storm of the century will be determined 9 months from now when we see the size of the baby boom it creates.

Storm of the century will be determined 9 months from now when we see the size of the baby boom it creates.


Recipe: Beef Barley Soup


  • 1/2 Ounce Chopped Dried Porcini Mushrooms
  • 2 – 3 Pounds Chuck Roast (trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Onion (sliced thin)
  • 2 Leeks (white and light green parts sliced thin)
  • 3 Carrots (chopped)
  • 2 Ribs Celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 Cup Lentils (brown or green)
  • 10 Cups Beef Broth
  • 1/4 Cup Sherry
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Cup Barley


  1. Soak the porcini mushrooms in 2 cups of hot water and set aside.
  2. Pour the olive oil into a large 6 quart pan and heat over medium high heat.
  3. Once oil is hot, add the cubed beef and brown on all sides (you may have to do this in batches so you don’t crowd the pan). Once browned, remove the beef to a plate.
  4. After all of the beef is browned add the onions, leeks, carrots and celery. Add a pinch of salt and saute the vegetables until the onions begin to caramelize and the vegetables brown on their edges (7-10 minutes).
  5. Add the soaked mushrooms and the soaking water, browned beef, lentils, broth, sherry, thyme, bay leaves, a large pinch of salt, and several grinds of black pepper to the pot.
  6. Stir to combine everything and bring soup to a boil.
  7. Once boiling, reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 90 minutes.
  8. While the soup is cooking, Cook the barley in a large pot of water for 20 minutes. Then drain the barley and set aside.
  9. After the soup has cooked for 90 minutes, add the barley to the soup and cook for 15 minutes longer.
  10. Serve.

Quick notes

This soup tastes even better the next day. Just be aware that the barley will soak up a lot of the broth when it sits in the refrigerator. You may need to add a bit of water to the soup when you re-heat it.

Preparation time: 25 minute(s)

Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 45 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

Culinary tradition: USA (Traditional)

Recipe by Pamela Braun.


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mercadee November 1, 2012 at 1:48 am

A hearty bowl of soup made with carrots, celery, onions, lean beef and pearl barley. When I was a kid, we had soup for dinner almost every night. Sometimes we had a bowl as a first course, and other times as a main dish. I wasn’t always very happy about this, because believe it or not I was a very picky kid. But when my Mom served Beef Barley, I never complained. This soup is perfect for the cooler evenings as we head into Fall. It’s a one pot meal that’s really simple to make, but it takes a little over an hour for the meat to get tender, so keep that in mind if you’re pressed for time. The pressure cooker is perfect to speed this up, I’ve also included instructions if you own one. I wasn’t sure what my toddler would think, but I fed it to her anyway and to my surprise she ate it. Leftovers only get better and make a great lunches; this also freezes great if you want to make freezer meals for the month. To make this soup gluten-free, you can sub the barley for quinoa.

foodwanderings October 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Hey girlie, Saw this on twittervese as we were experiencing Sandy and thought this is a perfect hurricane dish. Was craving it! 🙂

Pamela October 30, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Hey Ladie,

Glad to hear/see you made it through Sandy okay. It would be a perfect dish to ride out the storm. Keep it hand for this winter. 😉

Jen October 29, 2012 at 1:19 pm

This soup looks so delicious. Can’t think of a better meal (with some crusty bread and a nice glass of wine!) now winter is approaching.

Pamela October 30, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Thanks Jen,

It is a great dinner with bread and wine. Add a fire in the fireplace and you’ve got the recipe for a really cozy night.

DessertForTwo October 29, 2012 at 10:59 am

This looks fantastic! I love a good barley soup. Your version is slightly fancy with sherry and leeks–love it! 🙂

Pamela October 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Had to bring the lowly beef and barley soup up a notch or two. I thought it was about time. :0

sippitysup October 29, 2012 at 10:49 am

My stew is not nearly this good looking and my dog is ALWAYS underfoot! GREG

Pamela October 30, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Ha Greg!

I think it must be the sherry. I have yet to even see your dog. He’s so shy.

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