Our beef barley soup is loaded with carrots, celery, onion, pearl barley, and chunks of tender beef. Fresh thyme and parsley lend tremendous flavor to this soup that's both nourishing and comforting. This is the soup to make on cold nights!
Calling beef barley soup a soup may be a misnomer.
This soup is almost more like a beef stew since it's incredibly hearty and loaded with stick-to-your-ribs goodness.
Our recipe includes beef chuck that's braised in broth and red wine along with carrots, celery, onion, and garlic.
While the soup does take almost 2 hours to cook, it's certainly worth the wait.
Note: The image above was meant to include all ingredients, however, in our haste we forgot the beef in the refrigerator and it didn't make the picture! It is however an important ingredient and is included in the full process pictures below.
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Begin by slicing 2 pounds of beef chuck roast into cubes. Dice 1 medium onion, 2 ribs of celery, and 4 medium carrots. Mince 3 cloves of garlic and a ¼ cup of parsley. Note: You can cut out and remove any large pieces of fat which will cut down on the richness of the soup.
- Heat a large heavy pot to medium heat and add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper on all sides. Sear the beef on all sides until well browned taking care to not overcrowd the pan. Work in batches if required.
- Once the beef is browned, set it aside and add the carrots, celery, and onion to the pan and saute for 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer or until fragrant.
- Add ¾ cup of dry red wine and turn the heat up to high. Allow the wine to reduce by half (about 2 minutes) and using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pot to dislodge the brown bits.
- Add the beef back to the pot along with 6 cups of low-sodium beef broth, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and 3 sprigs of fresh thyme. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes with the lid partially covered.
- Add 1 cup of pearl barley and continue to cook at a simmer for another 45-60 minutes or until both the barley and beef are tender.
- Taste test along the way and once the barley is tender, remove it from the heat. Give the soup another taste test and make any adjustments to salt and pepper, if needed. If the soup is too thick, add a little water or more low-sodium beef broth to bring it to the desired consistency. Add the parsley right before serving and enjoy!
Top tips for the best beef barley soup
- Season the beef. After you've cubed your beef chuck, it's important to pat it dry with paper towels and season it right before you sear it. Seasoning the beef on all sides with salt and pepper will help better flavor the soup.
- Red wine. We're often asked if wine can be omitted from our recipes, and with the exception of Peposo, the answer is almost always yes. The wine is simply added to enhance and deepen the flavor of the beef barley soup but it is not mandatory here. If you are using wine, use a dry red like a Cabernet or Sangiovese.
- Beef broth (or stock). We strongly recommend using a low-sodium beef broth or stock for this recipe. If you use a full sodium broth or stock, the soup could be overly salty.
- The barley. Barley takes a long time to cook, so be patient. Taste test the soup along the way and you'll know it's done when the barley is nice and tender. It usually takes about 45-60 minutes of cooking.
- Consistency. Soup in general will thicken the longer it cooks and will in most cases continue to thicken as it cools. The starchy barley will also act as a thickener as it cooks. If you find the consistency is too thin, simply continue to cook until the desired consistency is achieved. If the soup is too thick, add a little water or low-sodium broth until you reach the perfect consistency.
More hearty soups and stews
If you're looking for comforting soup, you've come to the right place. Here are a few more of our favorite soup and stew recipes!
- Italian wedding soup - tiny meatballs with acini di pepe, fresh spinach, escarole, and carrots.
- Classic chili - ground beef, beans, ancho and chipotle peppers, cumin, cinnamon and a hint of dark chocolate.
- Italian beef stew - beef braised in red wine with carrots, celery, mushrooms, and rosemary.
- Split pea soup - Smoky ham, tender split peas, carrots, and homemade garlic croutons.
If you’ve enjoyed this beef barley soup recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and leave a review.
- 2 pounds beef chuck cubed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 ribs celery diced
- 4 medium carrots diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ¾ cup dry red wine
- 6 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1 cup pearl barley
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup parsley minced
- Heat a large heavy pot to medium heat and add the olive oil. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper on all sides. Sear the beef on all sides until well browned. Work in batches if required. Do not overcrowd the pan.
- Set all the beef to the side and add the onions, celery, and carrots. Saute for 5 minutes then add in the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.
- Add the red wine and turn the heat to high. Reduce by half (about 2 minutes) and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to remove all of the flavor bits.
- Add the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and the beef back to the pot. Once boiling turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes with the lid partially covered.
- Next, add the barley and cook at a simmer until tender (about 45-60 minutes). Taste test along the way and once the barley is tender, remove the pot from the heat.
- Taste test and adjust salt and pepper to taste. If the soup is too thick, add water or extra low-sodium beef broth to thin it to personal preference. Add the parsley before serving. Enjoy!
- This recipe makes 6 large bowls.
- Add more liquid (beef broth or water) after cooking to thin out the soup to desired consistency.
- Leftovers can be saved in the fridge for up to 3 days and can be reheated on the stovetop or microwave.