bowl of beef and barley soup with buttered bread

Hearty Beef and Barley Soup

  • Author: Anita Parris Soule | Cook on a Whim
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
  • Category: soups and stews
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: american


This Hearty Beef and Barley Soup is the perfect meal for the cooler, and soon-to-be colder months. It is a full meal in a bowl, with hearty chunks of tender beef, plenty of veggies, and wholesome pearled barley. It is rich and flavorful and just what we all want on a chilly evening. My favorite kind of food for my favorite time of year. Serve it with some warm, crusty bread and good, salted butter, a glass of red wine or a rich, dark beer and you’ve got yourself the perfect, coziest dinner.



  • 23 pounds stew meat (nicely marbled beef chunks)
  •  salt and pepper
  •  tablespoons oil
  •  10 cups water
  • 1 cup wine, red or white
  •  mounded tablespoons beef stock concentrate (I recommend Better than Bouillon)
  •  stalks celery (about 2 cups), chopped
  •  onions, chopped
  •  cloves garlic, minced
  • 23 bay leaves, fresh or dried
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
  •  large yukon gold potato, peeled and shredded, about 2 cups
  •  3-4 large carrots, peeled and shredded, about 2 cups
  •  cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • fresh parsley for garnish (optional)


  1. Generously salt and pepper the beef. In a large stockpot or dutch oven (I use a huge cast iron dutch oven), heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  2. When the pan is very hot and the oil begins to smoke a bit, add about 1/3 of meat in a single layer. Don’t crowd the pan. Brown for about 1-2 minutes, then turn to brown the other side. Remove to a plate when it is browned on all sides.
  3. Repeat with remaining meat until all meat is browned.
  4. When all the meat is browned, add all the meat back to the pot with water, wine, and beef base.
  5. Add the chopped celery, onions, garlic, bay leaves and rosemary. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 2 hours with the lid on but partially cracked.
  6. When the meat is tender and you can break it apart easily with a wooden spoon, add the shredded potato, carrots, and barley.
  7. Continue to simmer until barley is tender, about another 45 minutes to one hour.
  8. If you find the soup becoming too thick, just add a bit more water.


Let your pan get smoking hot before you begin browning the meat. Throw open the windows and turn on the exhaust fan. It’s worth it.

I used red wine, but feel free to use whatever you have. A dark beer would be good too! Or just leave the alcohol out. It will still be delicious!

If you are looking for a slow cooker version, go check out Karen’s recipe!

Keywords: beef and barley soup, soup, hearty soup

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