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Beef Barley Soup – Oh Sweet Basil


Beef barley soup is a hearty and comforting soup full of tender beef, pearl barley, wild rice, mushrooms and savory umami flavor.

I didn’t even know that beef barley soup was a thing. I guess whenever I heard someone mention a barley soup I just went into a mindless state because barley didn’t sound delicious. But it’s the best soup I’ve had in years and that says a lot considering how much my family loves soup. Have you tried “The Soup“? Or maybe our roasted tomato basil soup? We love soups!

If you search for beef and barley soup recipes, you’ll find a lot of the same style of soup — carrots, celery, beef, barley, etc. We have changed things up for this. This is a little different, and more scrumptious imho, than anything you’ll find out there.

Why is This the Best Beef Barley Soup?

My friend and I decided that there are a few small things that are musts in a beef barley soup…

  1. No carrots or celery. This isn’t stew and we don’t want it to look, smell or taste like stew. That’s a different recipe!
  2. Use wild rice along with the barley. It adds a toothy, flavorful oomph that you will miss if you skip it. You can add as much or as little as you’d like.
  3. WHOLE ROAST slowly cooked. We aren’t cutting this baby up, though if you were short on time you could certainly use stew meat and half the baking time. But a whole roast slowly cooked will bring out far more flavor and tenderness in the meat.
a close up photo of beef and barley soup loaded with tender beef chunks, barley, wild rice, spinach and mushrooms.

Ingredients for Beef Barley Soup

At first glance, this list may look long, but don’t worry! Most ingredients are pantry ingredients and everything combined creates a depth of flavor that is heavenly. Here is what you will need…

  • Chuck Roast: you will cook this whole like you would a pot roast
  • Olive Oil: helps brown the roast
  • Salt and Pepper: adds flavor
  • Red Wine Vinegar: helps deglaze the pan and adds acidity
  • Water: helps deglaze
  • Red Onion: adds flavor and caramelization
  • Baby Bella Mushrooms: adds earthy flavor and chewiness
  • Pearl Barley: you can find this right by the rice at the grocery store
  • Wild Rice: adds an extra layer of flavor and different texture to the soup
  • Au Jus Packet: adds bold savory flavor
  • Onion Powder: adds flavor
  • Garlic Powder: adds flavor
  • Oregano: you can also use Italian seasoning if you don’t have oregano
  • Balsamic Vinegar: adds a slight sweetness and more acidity
  • Worcestershire: our favorite brand is Lea & Perrins
  • Beef Broth: helps cook the barley and wild rice and creates the base of the soup
  • Spinach: you can skip the spinach if you don’t want to add it
  • Parmesan: optional, but I love the flavor it adds

This is just meant to be an overview of the ingredients needed for this recipe. The measurements of each ingredient can be found in the recipe card at the end of the post.

a photo taken above a bowl of beef barley soup with a spoon in the bowl

How to Make Beef Barley Soup

  1. Preheat the oven and prep the roast.
  2. Brown the roast on all sides and set it aside.
  3. Caramelize the onions.
  4. Sauté the mushrooms then deglaze the pan.
  5. Layer the rice, barley and seasonings then place the browned roast on top.
  6. Add half the broth and the remaining ingredients and bake in the oven.
  7. Check the soup every couple of hours to make sure there is enough liquid and add more as needed.
  8. Once the roast is cooked, shred the beef, then add the rest of the broth.
  9. Add spinach and parmesan if desired.

This is just a brief overview of the instructions for making this soup. All the details can be found in the recipe card down below.

a photo of a bowl full of beef barley soup with chunks of tender beef, mushrooms, barley, wild rice and spinach.

Beef and Barley Soup FAQ

What Cut of Beef is the Best for Soup?

Obviously, the best is a chuck roast. It has great marbling which makes it ideal for tenderness. Chuck roasts are usually affordable and easy to find.

Can I Cook the Roast in a Slow Cooker?

Yes! I would still brown it first on the stove top then place it in a slow cooker on low for 8 hours. It won’t have the same flavor as a roasted beef though.

Do You Cook Barley Before Adding It to Soup?

No, the barley can go in uncooked. Barley takes a long time to cook but since we are cooking in this in the over for several hours, it will cook just fine.

How to Thicken Soup

You really have complete control of the thickness of this soup. The amount of broth or water you add will determine the thickness. However, if you get to a point where the soup has gotten too thin, combine 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water and slowly whisk it into the soup until it reaches your desired thickness.

How to Make in a Slow Cooker or Instant Pot

Slow Cooker – follow all the instructions as written. When you get to step 5, add the rice to the slow cooker and then follow the rest of the instructions adding everything to the slow cooker. Then cook on low for 4-6 hours. Add the spinach about 5 minutes before serving and top with parmesan cheese if desired.
Instant Pot – set the IP to sauté and brown the roast on all sides for 3-4 minutes with oil. Then pressure cook on high for 60-80 minutes based on roast 3-5 lbs. When the roast is done, shred it and add the rest of the ingredients. Turn the IP back to sauté and sauté the onions and then mushrooms. Then add the remaining ingredients and and set the IP to high pressure for 15-18 min. Allow a natural release. Remove the lid and add the spinach if desired and add the lid for a few minutes. Then top with the cheese.

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

If you make ahead and freeze it, add the barley and rice on the day you’re eating it or they will absorb all of the liquids.

Whip up a big pot of this hearty beef barley soup and make a side of buttermilk biscuits, and you’ll be the happiest person on earth! It’s so nourishing, savory and comforting! It’s guaranteed to be a new favorite in your house!

More Delicious Soup Recipes:

Prevent your screen from going dark

  • Set the roast out for 20 minutes before you begin. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Season all sides of the beef with salt and pepper.

    4 lbs Chuck Roast, Salt and Pepper

  • In a large pot, heated over medium high heat, add the oil. Once shimmering, add the beef. Brown each side of the roast for a few minutes or until golden. Remove to a plate and add any accumulated juices.

    3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

  • Turn the heat down to medium and add another drizzle of oil. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes.

    1 Red Onion, Salt and Pepper

  • Halfway through cooking, add the mushrooms, stirring occasionally until softened. At this point, add the vinegar and a little water to deglaze the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat.

    4 oz Baby Bella Mushrooms, 1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar, Water

  • Sprinkle 1/3 of the wild rice and barley, sprinkle with a quarter of the seasonings, including the au jus. Repeat again, and season again. Add the final third of the grains and seasoning, with some remaining to go over the beef.

    1 1/2 Cups Wild Rice, 1 Cup Pearl Barley, 1 Packet Au Jus, 1 teaspoon Onion Powder, 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder, 2 teaspoons Oregano

  • Place the roast on top of all the grains and sprinkle the final of the seasonings over. Add 8 cups of beef broth, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire and place the lid on the pot and slide into the preheated oven.

    1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire, 16 Cups Beef Broth

  • Cook for 4-6 hours, checking every 2 hours and adding broth or water as needed so that it’s not dry. Remove the pot from the oven and shred the meat. Add it back into the pot and then add the remaining broth, or until desired thickness.

    16 Cups Beef Broth, Water

  • Water can be added as well if you run out of broth. Heat over the stove until the broth is warmed.

  • Place a little spinach in a bowl and pour the soup over the top with a good shaving of parmesan cheese.

    Spinach, Parmesan

Serving: 1.5cupsCalories: 699kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 57gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 13gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 2gCholesterol: 156mgSodium: 1987mgPotassium: 1318mgFiber: 6gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 50IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 98mgIron: 7mg

Author: Sweet Basil

Course: 50 of the Best Easy Soup Recipes for Families

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