Hearty Beef and Barley Soup

Sarah Faris
by Sarah Faris
6 servings
2 hr 20 min

Banish the winter blues with this comforting Beef and Barley soup. The ingredient list isn't long, and most of the cooking time is hands off.

It is chock full of fiber and nutrient rich vegetables, and makes your whole house smell amazing as it cooks.

For a gluten free option, substitute brown rice or another gluten free grain for the barley. You can even omit the barley if you are trying to reduce the amount of grains in your diet, or if you are Paleo or Whole 30.

I prefer to use a leaner cut of beef for the soup, such as sirloin, but you could use chuck in a pinch. I find that when I use chuck, the end result is a little fatty. If using chuck, make sure that your beef is trimmed of as much fat as possible before beginning, and reduce the amount of oil when searing the meat.

Hearty Beef and Barley Soup
Recipe details
  • 6  servings
  • Prep time: 20 Minutes Cook time: 2 Hours Total time: 2 hr 20 min
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  • 1 1/2 lbs beef (sirloin or other lean cut)*, cut into 1/4-1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled, sliced into coins
  • 3 ribs celery, sliced thinly
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 6 cups good quality beef broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 5-7 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 cup dried barley
  • 2 - 2 1/2 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt to beef and toss with tongs to distribute. Add half the quantity of beef to pot and do not immediately stir. Allow a nice brown sear to develop on bottom of meat before stirring. Brown beef on all sides and remove from pot. Add another 1/2 tbsp of oil to pot and add the rest of beef. Repeat searing process. Remove beef from pot and immediately add onions, garlic, carrots, and celery, adding remaining oil if necessary to prevent sticking. Reduce heat to medium and season vegetables with a pinch of salt.
Sauté vegetables for about five minutes, so that they soften slightly. Add tomato paste and stir to incorporate into vegetables. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add beef back into pot.
Add broth, water, and thyme to pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook with the lid on pot, but slightly tilted to release a small amount of steam, for about 2 hours, or until the texture of the beef softens.
While soup simmers, prepare barley according to package instructions.
Once beef is softened, remove thyme stems (the leaves will have detached mostly) and add cooked barley to soup. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper and serve.