Old-Fashioned Beef and Barley Soup

By • January 19, 2013 17 Comments

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Author Notes: This is comfort food for a winter's day. It's quick and easy to prepare, then it just sits on the stove and smells good for an hour or so.plainhomecook

Food52 Review: If there was a soup-to-stew continuum, this wonderful beef and barley soup would sit at the last stop right before stews. The broth is thick and rich, with the wine adding a touch of bourguignon flavor. In fact, the taste is so rich and stew-like, I would consider adding mushrooms when I make it again (and I will make it again). Prep is straightforward and fills the kitchen with wonderful smells as everything simmers. This hearty soup is a definite go-to recipe for chilly days.Chip Galusha

Serves 8

  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 ribs of celery
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 glugs of olive oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into small pieces
  • 1 marrow bone
  • 8 cups beef broth or stock
  • 1 cup strong red wine
  • One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 tablespoon double-concentrated tomato paste (the stuff that comes in tubes)
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Dice the onion. Peel the carrots, cut them in half lengthwise, then slice. Cut the celery in half lengthwise and slice it. Mince the garlic.
  2. Put a couple of glugs of olive oil in the bottom of a big, heavy stock pot. Heat it over medium heat until it shimmers, then add the onions, carrots, celery, and some salt. Cook over medium heat for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the garlic and thyme (crumbled between your fingers) and cook, stirring, for another minute or so, until it's nice and fragrant. Push all the veggies to the outside of the pan, then add the tomato paste and cook it for a few minutes until it's brown and sweet.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, for an hour and a half.
  5. Correct the seasoning and serve with crusty bread and a green salad.

More Great Recipes: Beef & Veal|Rice & Grains|Soups|Ribs|Soup

Topics: Soups

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Comments (17) Questions (0)


4 months ago Transcendancing

Great recipe, I made it with the intention of it being a stew and it's turned out beautifully. I also didn't have the wine and it didn't lack for it - I did add splash of red wine vinegar though.


7 months ago Adrienne weber

Making this soup today while the storm rages on the eastern end of long island. Ferry not running, some roads closed.


about 1 year ago Transcendancing

I made this tonight and it was delicious! I didn't add the extra canned tomatoes, and also cooked it for a little longer so the meat would properly tenderise. It was delicious and the extra time really made it - the soup itself came together beautifully in this thick broth. I didn't actually use the marrow bone because I had home made stock from marrow bones. I would be interested to try this without the tomato paste and emphasise specifically the beef flavour.


over 1 year ago Kevin French

Made this last night, per instructions. Family loved it, even the little ones. This is being added to our rotation, especially for the cooler months. Thanks!


over 1 year ago Kristy Morrill

I have made this for years...both for myself and for my dog - sans the onion & garlic. He loves it! I do too.


over 1 year ago Kristy Morrill

I use a beef marrow shank to make it. He also gets the marrow bone after it is cooled and meat chopped off.


over 1 year ago cymin

Great recipe! Making it again for dinner tonight. I bought a chuck roast and cut it up myself and it was incredibly tender.


over 1 year ago dawn

I make beef with barley soup all winter long. I prefer it to be brothier, water like as I favor the broth of soups more than the other ingredients. I also add mushrooms but what I think really makes the soup exceptional is I cook it with the bones I save from prime rib that we have at Christmas. Yes you will have to defat it but the roasted bones give it great flavor


over 1 year ago DeborahBr

Even better than chuck is flanken/short ribs though the soup will require de-fatting since they have more fat than chuck. Mushrooms are also a terrific addition.


over 1 year ago Kristin

I made this last night for friends and it was a hit! My only addition was an extra marrow bone. The meat was tender and it simmered for several hours.


over 1 year ago Kristin Nicole

I have been wanting to try barley and have yet to cook with it, can't wait to try this recipe.


over 1 year ago Southern&Scandi

Do you add the uncooked beef in at step 4 or should you brown it first?


over 1 year ago plainhomecook

It would be yummier if you browned it first, but it's quicker and easier if you don't.


over 1 year ago plainhomecook

Yes, Chip, mushrooms would be really good in this. Also friends, if you want it more "soup-y" rather than "stew-y" you could simmer it covered.


over 1 year ago plainhomecook

Thanks for the community pick! This site has enriched my life so much. After cooking dozens of recipes from it, I'm so pleased to be able to give one back.


about 2 years ago nigheandubh

Good tasting soup however I found the chuck steak didn't cook enough in the specified time. I cooked for a further 1/2 hr but still found not tender as in melting in your mouth. Will try cooking the chuck steak in pressure cooker first for a short time, then adding to soup.


over 1 year ago plainhomecook

Belated thanks for your note - I don't mind chewing the beef, myself, but I did lengthen the cooking time and you're right, it's better!