Beef Barley Soup

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Beef Barley Soup – A comforting hearty bowl of soup made with carrots, celery, onions, lean beef and pearl barley.

Beef Barley Soup – A comforting hearty bowl of soup made with carrots, celery, onions, lean beef and pearl barley.Beef Barley Soup

As the weather’s getting cooler and fall is just ahead, a warm soup as a starter dish really hits the spot. Some other soup apps I enjoy are Stuffed Pepper Soup, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower Soup and Chunky Beef, Cabbage and Tomato Soup.

When I was a kid, we had soup for dinner almost every night. Sometimes we had a bowl as a first course, and other times as a main dish. I wasn’t always very happy about this, because believe it or not, I was a very picky kid. But when my Mom served Beef Barley, I never complained.

This soup is perfect for the cooler evenings as we head into Fall. It’s a one pot meal that’s really simple to make, but it takes a little over an hour for the meat to get tender, so keep that in mind if you’re pressed for time. The pressure cooker is perfect to speed this up, I’ve also included instructions if you own one.

I wasn’t sure what my toddler would think, but I fed it to her anyway and to my surprise she ate it. Leftovers only get better and make for great lunches. This also freezes great for those of you who want to make freezer meals for the month. To make this soup gluten-free, you can sub the barley for quinoa.

Beef Barley Soup – A comforting hearty bowl of soup made with carrots, celery, onions, lean beef and pearl barley.

Beef Barley Soup – A comforting hearty bowl of soup made with carrots, celery, onions, lean beef and pearl barley.
Print WW Personal Points
4.58 from 33 votes
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Beef Barley Soup

336 Cals 32 Protein 27 Carbs 11 Fats
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 2 hrs
Total Time: 2 hrs 10 mins
Yield: 5 servings
CUISINE: American
A comforting hearty bowl of soup made with carrots, celery, onions, lean beef and pearl barley.


  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1-1/2 lbs lean beef round stew meat
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 - 2 tsp kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2/3 cup dry barley
  • fresh ground black pepper


  • Heat a large heavy pot or dutch oven on medium heat.
  • Add oil and beef, season with a little salt and brown meat a few minutes.
  • When meat is browned, add carrots, onion, celery and garlic to the pot and give it a good stir.
  • Add water, salt and bay leaves and bring to a boil.
  • When boiling, reduce heat to low and cover.
  • Simmer covered over low heat until the meat is soft, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
  • Add the barley, adjust the salt if needed and add fresh ground pepper.
  • Simmer an additional 30-35, remove bay leaves and serve.

Pressure cooker instructions:

  • Follow all the steps with the meat and carrots as instructed above, when you add the water, cover and lock the lid.
  • Cook in the pressure cooker for about 30 minutes on medium low heat.
  • Remove from heat and when the pressure cooker is cool enough to unlock the lid, remove and add barley. Cook an additional 30 minutes uncovered.


Makes 7 1/2 cups.


Serving: 11/2 cups, Calories: 336kcal, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 32g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 60mg, Sodium: 453mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 1.5g
WW Points Plus: 8
Keywords: beef and barley soup, Beef Barley Soup, instant pot beef barley soup, pressure cooker beef barley soup, vegetable beef barley soup

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  1. I added mushrooms to this recipe . The whole hose smells Divine! Hubby home soon. Ps: Didn’t have celery. I also used Low sodium 1/2 Beef Broth and 1/2 water.

  2. I have made this recipe so many times. So easy and so delicious. I substitute with some beef broth. Only change I make.

  3. Thank you for ACTUALLY listing the serving size/volume in your nutritional data, as 99% of posters NEVER state it…rendering their nutritional data utterly usely.

  4. This is delicious!  I did add extra celery, carrots and barley, we like a hearty soup.  I shredded the beef after it was cooked.
    I used 3 beef bouillon cubes and an extra cup of water and eliminated the salt.

  5. The recipe and instructions are fine but there is virtually no seasoning to it! I wound up googling “beef stew seasoning” and then adding lots of herbs and spices to liven this up. Much better after my additional seasoning added. 

  6. Making this as I type this to you. It already smells delicious I did use the broth instead of water and I added 3 tablespoons of tomato paste to thicken it thank you for the recipe recipe

  7. After reading some of the comments I am made some additions to this delicious soup! I browned the meat separately. Then sauté the vegetables. I used beef broth instead of water. Added some tomato paste and one 28 oz can of diced tomatoes. This wonderful soup is now on our rotation.

  8. Oh, I also forgot to mention I added about 20-25 fresh green beans cut in about 1-inch pieces.

  9. This was a delicious soup!
    I did see the other comments about it being a little bland.  
    I salt/peppered the beef as I browned it, and then I added 1 tsp table salt as directed when I put the broth together.  
    Then I just threw in various things I had in my pantry to help it out:
    -about 3/4 tbsp tomato paste as I was browning the beef
    -1/2 carton of low sodium beef broth, and the rest was water
    -about 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    -about 3/4 tbsp good whole grain brown mustard
    -1/2 tsp Moroccan spice blend (not salted)
    All these flavors blended together beautifully, and it didn’t taste overly salted.  
    In the end, it was an incredibly good soup.  I would make it again in a second. 

  10. This was my first attempt at making beef barley soup and it was very easy to prepare and cook. It was absolutely delicious!

  11. My picky husband loved this recipe! The only change I made was to add 2 beef bouillon cubes. 

  12. Usually I love skinnytaste recipes, but this was just “meh.” It smelled so good cooking too, but definitely missing something. Not seasoned or flavorful.

  13. This is such an easy and delicious meal!  It will be a repeat meal for us!

  14. It was okay but felt like it was missing something.

  15. Once again with fall coming I’m back to making my family’s favorite soup! I have made this more then 4 dozen times in the last 7 years and it’s the only way I will make beef stew! It’s a win among my 3 kids and my husband! It’s FULL of flavor! I typically double the water amount, add 2 bouillon cubes and double the veggies when I make it. 

  16. I was worried about it being tasteless because of the water but it was delicious! I did add a tablespoon of beef bouillon but that was the only change. It does need to simmer for at least a couple hours so maybe that’s why others thought it didn’t have any taste. My husband loved it too! Looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

  17. Love this soup ,I added diced roasted tomatoes and beff broth .We love this soup.

  18. We did not enjoy this recipe 🙁
    The flavour was bland (despite using beef broth), and the soup was too watery. I think it missing some tomato paste, worchestershire, and a thickener.
    I won’t be making this one again.

  19. This is one of my top 5 go-to comfort meals. Don’t be fooled by using water.  The recipe is simple but deceptively complex in flavor. .  The leftover bowl is always better than the first, and I can’t recommend this recipe (or really any of Gina’s recipes) enough to people looking for reliable, delicious, and well-articulated meals that never fail to hit the spot. 

  20. So halfway through this recipe I got nervous it would be bland so I added a tsp each of oregano and thyme, 1/4 c of fire roasted tomatoes (it’s what I had leftover) a beef buillon cube, a splash of Worcestershire sauce (after it had cooked- not sure if this makes a difference) and added in potatoes when the soup with barley was about 15 minutes away from being done. It was super yummy!! Maybe the original would have been a little lacking but it’s a great base to do whatever you want! 

  21. So good on a cold winter’s night. Delicious! 

  22. Made this soup this past weekend and WOW, it was fabulous. My husband is not a soup eater and he loved it! The only change I made was using beef broth instead of water.

  23. Made this yesterday for meal prep- pretty tasteless. This recipe definitely needs something -just not sure what. Makes a lot so I will have to try adding some seasonings.

  24. Hi Gina- I love this recipe and would like to double it and freeze some. Have you ever tried freezing it?

  25. Great! I used bigger chunks of vegetables and used 4 cups of beef bone broth and 1 cup of red wine. Really enhanced the taste. 

  26. This soup has very little flavor. I will not make it again.

  27. Gina. These instructions are confusing for instant pot. You say remove from heat but there is no heat in an IP. can you clarify also what you mean about cooking the barley uncovered? Do you mean on sauté mode? These instructions are incomplete. Please advise 

    • Hey Amanda! This is actually an older recipe and the directions were for an original style pressure cooker that did use heat. Sorry for any confusion!

  28. Is it ruined?? Crap i put the barley in the first 30 minute round. Should I up the heat? Ughhhh help!!

    • **update**
      So I cooked it on low for the first 30 mins with the barely in it, when it was done the meat didnt seem soft enough to me so I put it in for an additional 12 mins on high (dont ask me why 12, 10 minutes just didnt seem like enough lol) it came out so good. Everyone wanted seconds and I had zero leftovers!! My kids are 3 and 6 and too often they’re very picky!

  29. Not a Canner. Do not use Instant Pot for canning.

  30. This is my go-to comfort food, when my body needs some healing. I love it! Thank you, Gina!

  31. Where do you get barley from? 

    • any grocery store….usually find it with the dry beans and peas and such 

    • EXCELLENT recipe! Perfect spices…not at all bland as others have reported. My husband and I loved it. I used a 2 1/4 pound pot roast for the small meat chunks and added 2 chopped up (skin removed) Roma tomatoes. We used water, as directed, not broth. But we added 2 more cups of water and a beef bouillon cube in order to make more broth. It was wonderful with a crusty fresh loaf of French Baguette bread.

  32. Hi Gina! For the Instant Pot directions, can you quick release after cooking the meat and vegetables? Then I assume you do the saute function to cook the barley? Thanks so much, loving all of your recipes. 🙂

  33. I never had barley before but I came across this recipe on Pinterest and decided to give it a shot. It was DELICIOUS! I added a dollop of sour cream to my bowl and was in heaven. I didn’t realize at the time, however, that I’m allergic to barley! I couldn’t breathe and my skin broke out in hives. I have crazy allergies anyway, so luckily I had my inhaler and antihistamines on hand. The more you know! Apparently my whole family is allergic to barley and I didn’t know, lol.

    The soup was delicious though, so I’m still using this recipe minus the barley, haha!

  34. I love this recipe! I see the pressure cooker instructions but can you post ones for the instant pot. Would it be high pressure for the 30 minutes? Thanks!

  35. This is one of my favorite recipes! Would you be able to add directions on how to make in the instant pot? I’m trying it now on my own, guessing the times and temps, but I’d love your opinion! Thanks so much =)

  36. Reminds me of my Gram’s & Momma’s!  Only change I made was to use 2 quarts beef broth instead of water.  This is a keeper!

  37. This is a really hearty soup. I sub beef broth for at least part of the water and gives it a little more beef flavor. It is a winter stand by.

  38. Great soup!  I made my own beef broth with bone from a standing rib roast and added 8 oz of sliced mushrooms wither the vegetables. 

  39. I DID make this tonight. I am 60 years old and have never made Barley Soup. I had a can of Progresso Beef Barley Soup, and decided I wanted to make it myself. IT WAS SO MUCH BETTER!!!

  40. Making it vegan.  It’s delicious just swapped out a few ingredients. 

  41. This soup is delicious, as are all of your soup recipes. I love to make a batch of this and my husband brings it for lunches for a few days and loves it each and every time.  Thank you, Gina, for these wonderful recipes. 

  42.  This is definitely one of our family faves but I usually simmer for the afternoon. I’m going to try making it in my instant pot. Because it won’t simmer I’m going to use beef broth instead of water. Here’s hoping! 

  43. I think this recipe is lousy. It is bland and so should have used beef stock instead of water. I tried doctoring it up but still was not good

  44. Simple but so delicious!  My family of boys devour this every time.  I’m lucky if it lasts more than a day!

  45. Adding beef stock and a beef shank bone makes a really flavorful soup.

  46. Wow! I made this yesterday and while I was originally planning to add some beef broth, I found I was out and stuck with the recipe. I can’t believe how much flavour this creates with the long simmer!

    It’s hearty and healthy and filling! Delicious cozy recipe for a cold day.

  47. Delicious!

  48. Thank you for this recipe made it exactly by recipe. Delicious! I was looking for something without tomatoes and just a nice brown broth. It’s a winner will add to my recipe book.

  49. Delish! Only change was 3 cups beef broth, 3 cups water. Frequently requested by family. Thanks!

  50. Hi Gina. I love your recipes! I’m wondering if you have instant pot instructions for this soup. Thanks! 

  51. Pingback: BEEF BARLEY SOUP AND A NEW RECIPE SERIES – Trials of a Thirty Something

  52. I use a 50:50 mix of red wine and water which gives the soup a certain “Je ne sais quoi “ and it tends to cut the fat a bit.

  53. Per other people’s comments, I made this with 4 cups of low-sodium beef broth and 2 cups of water instead of the 6 cups of water…tasted awesome. The barley didn’t seem to get soft enough in the 30-35 minutes in the recipe…are there different types of barley, like a fast-cooking one?

  54. This turned out great making it on the stove top. I made it in my Instant Pot today. I basically followed the recipe, with a couple of substitutions: unsalted beef broth instead of water and top round roast (trimmed of fat and cut up) in place of the round steak because it was on sale. I followed the directions as written, even sauteing the meat in the Instant Pot. I then added the other ingredients and cooked it on Manual/High Pressure for 30 minutes. I then let the pressure release naturally. I suspect you could do a quick release if you were in a hurry. Hope this helps anyone else who wants to use their Instant Pot for this recipe!

  55. Pingback: Best Fall Soups - KatieGen

  56. HI Gina–I absolutely love your recipes and this is a family favorite of ours. I just got an instant pot so wondering if you have instructions for using the instant pot with this recipe? Thanks!

  57. How could this be adapted to a slow cooker?


  58. I’m new to using the instant pot, do you have any insight as to how you would make this in that?

  59. Pingback: It’s (Finally!) Soup Season, So Warm Up To These 23 Easy Recipes | Add This Shop : Social Bookmarking

  60. I made this as the soup house in a rolling dinner party. It was an awesome hit ???? with the kids as well as the adults

  61. I’m going to try making this for lunch today but with Gardein beef tips! Just won’t cook as long I think. Wish me luck!

  62. This soup was fantastic! I made a double batch and froze some and brought some to work to share with colleagues. They loved it too! Thank you!

  63. Gina – this soup is absolutely delicious. Thank you so much for sharing your talent of cooking with us. I appreciate you and your journey. With very recipe, you remind me that Weight Watchers is your own and it doesn’t mean having to eat bland food. This soup is so flavorful and very filling. It’s also tha first time I’ve had barley before. Thank you again.


  64. What setting would you use for this in the instant pot?

    • Did you ever figure out the cooking time in the instant pot?  I’m reading through the comments and would like to try this in the IP but don’t see anywhere that gives that info. Thanks!!

  65. I made this last night for the first time and it was delicious! Approved by my 11 year old, husband and co-workers! I did use half water, half low sodium beef broth to add a little more flavor.  I went a little lighter on the salt because of my addition of the broth..  Will definitely keep this in my fall/winter rotation!

  66. Pingback: Beef and Barley Soup | The Grateful Girl Cooks!

  67. what are the new points plus value on WW?

  68. I was a little weary because there’s no beef stock or broth but boy does this soup have great flavor! And I love it because it’s less sodium that way! I added mushrooms with the barley. I’m addicted. I’ve made this three times! And it’s great frozen too. I’ll be trying the chicken version soon using left over turkey. Thank you!!

  69. Making this recipe for the 2nd time. It’s is so darn delicious.  Thank you

  70. Pingback: Is an Instant Pot Worth the Money? - The Kitchen Garten

  71. Great soup. I use a bone in chuck roast. Do not use any spices except S&P. Love barley and beef together. So OOOOO good.

  72. I made this tonight. I used low sodium beef broth & water, also added a can of diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings. It turned out pretty good, but the barley either needed more time or I needed to soak it first. 

  73. Pingback: Cold Weather Comfort | The Food Chronicles

  74. Pingback: It's (Finally!) Soup Season, So Warm Up To These 23 Easy Recipes « Fribliss

  75. Pingback: It’s (Finally!) Soup Season, So Warm Up To These 23 Easy Recipes | properfoodexpert

  76. Love your recipes the soup plus all,thank u for sharing.

  77. Pingback: Recipe: Beef and barley soup – little celebrations

  78. Am I missing something? There is no mention of beef broth in this recipe. 

  79. Just wanted to know can you cook this recipe in a slow cooker thanks

  80. Just made this for dinner tonight and it was soon good! I ended up using veal stew cubes that i had in my freezer and tossed them in a little white flour, salt and lots of pepper before browning them. The meat came out really tender. The broth was a little bland, but I didn’t want to add any more salt, so I might try adding low sodium or salt free beef broth next time to add a little more flavour. I also might try making this with lamb stewing cubes. Thanks for the great recipe! This one is going into the rotation for sure.

  81. This was my favorite soup when I was growing up. But I would only eat my grandmother’s even though she taught or gave my mother her recipe hers always tasted better to me.

    The only difference is she used a large can of beef broth and a large can of tomatoes that she chopped. They didn’t have low sodium or no salt beef broth back them but I would use that instead. Think I’ll make this this week and eat some now and freeze some for later.

  82. I made this today in the slow cooker. So delicious! The only thing I added was a cube of beef bouillon, mainly because I needed to use it up before it went bad. I browned the beef first, then added it to my slow cooker along with the veggies, water, barley, bouillon, bay leaves, a little salt and a lot of pepper. It took six hours on high to cook completely. I'm so happy I have plenty leftover for lunch during the week.

  83. Can this be made in a crock pot?

  84. You can also make chicken barley soup

  85. Can also be made with good ground beef and frozen mixed vegetable. My husband love this!

  86. Would like to try this in the Instant Pot.

  87. I love this soup… however, my family feels it needs more flavor. We use 4 cups of low sodium beef broth and 2 cups water and no additional salt. It was pefect and did the trick! We makes this all the time 🙂

  88. Yummy soup!! I did add 1T minced garlic after adding the veggies & a can of beef broth + water. Delicious fall soup

  89. Just curious why I can't add barley at the beginning when using a pressure cooker. What would happen if I did?

  90. Help! Why does the broth look like water? no coloring at all? Did I miss something?

  91. Looks delicious. What could I use instead of barley to make this gluten free?

  92. if the carrots are put in to cook with everything else, wouldn't they be overly soft?

  93. I made this soup about 2 weeks ago and it was a hit,it was the perfect soup for those cold winter evenings . I'm making it this evening.

  94. I agree with Anonymous, above….it is under the 'Freezer Friendly Recipes' but give no instructions for freezing – before adding the barley, after when it is all complete?

  95. Does anyone know if this can be made ahead and then frozen? If so, are there any changes that i would need to make?

  96. I am made this for dinner tonight! It was delicious! Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  97. Making this tonight (and I have your chicken enchilada soup in the slow cooker – this is going to be a soup week!). I'm out of celery but I am going to add chopped mushrooms and cut green beans. Should be ok, I think! Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  98. I have some venison that i would love to use in this! Thoughts??

  99. Oh anonymous….wish I had read ALL the comments before I cooked this soup. I am on the last stage–adding barley and adjusting salt. I find this terribly bland. hopefully I can doctor it up! Next time beef broth!

  100. The first time I made it I followed the recipe exactly and found it was bland. I made it last night with beef broth and it is much better that way. Good base recipe

  101. Wow, I came across this recipe on Pinterest. I've been looking for a beef soup since a long time and this is perfect!! I really enjoyed the soup, so tasteful and comforting. Thank you so much for it! Done the recipe twice in 2 weeks.

  102. Last week I was craving beef soup for some reason, which was odd as I don't tend to like it. I took a leap of faith and made it anyways… this is seriously one of the best soups I've ever eaten. The broth is amazing! I also love that there aren't very many ingredients so it's an inexpensive and easy recipe for college students. I made the recipe exactly as written with the exception of the barley, since I'm gluten intolerant. I'll definitely be making this soup again 🙂

  103. Just wondering do your use quick or the long cooking kind. Thank you Roseann

  104. I also would recommend searing the meat, removing, deglazing, then doing the veggies. I subbed in one can of beef broth, and then rather than let it simmer on the stove, I put my dutch oven into the oven at 300 for a couple of hours before adding the barley. Delicious!

  105. People that tell you to use Kosher salt for cooking are idiots. Use regular table salt – it blends better, has necessary iodide, and is cheaper. Kosher salt is for the outside of food for texture.

  106. I made this for supper tonight and it was delicious! I added a couple beef bouillon cubes and a full cup of barley. I think next time I'll add some mushrooms. I'm looking forward to eating it again for lunch tomorrow.

    Thanks for another great recipe!

  107. Another delicious recipe! I prepared the soup exactly to your specifications and it was a winner! I made the soup for dinner for my son and husband, because I was at work last night. I took 1 serving to work and came home to find an empty pot on the stove and a sheepish looking husband.

  108. My picky husband even liked this. I threw in half a bottle of Guinness and five cups of broth at the beginning. Also added a diced potato, some paprika and extra garlic. Before serving, I added the other half of the Guinness. Very tasty.

  109. I made this again last night and it is AWESOME!!!! I accidently left it simmering 45 minutes longer but that just made it thicker (and the barley got done).

  110. Chilly, cloudy and damp day today. I was searching your site for something to make and found this recipe, perfect for today. The house smells wonderful and the soup tastes amazing. The only change I made was to add a few mushrooms I had that needed to be used up. Delicious! Thanks for saving dinner again, Gina!

  111. When you say that it calls for 1-1/2 lbs lean beef round stew meat, do you mean one 1/2 lb pack or 1 and 1/2lbs?

  112. Delicious aaaaand easy !!! Love !!! Hubs doesn't really like soup for dinner but this one is hearty and he can't stop raving about it !!

  113. Super love this soup! It has made its way into our dinner rotations, and I am not a big soup maker. This one is easy, even with an 8 month old crawling around my feet!

  114. Absolutely delicious. So easy, too. I love that it just uses water (rather than broth) and is still very flavorful.

  115. Incredibly filling! I've made this soup several times but today was the first time I tried in the crockpot. Seared the beef first as suggested and added all ingredients and cooked on low for six hours. I liked it even more than the original! And as another person who can not manage a lot of tomato products, I am so happy to have a go-to meal that doesn't require tomatoes! Thanks again Gina!

  116. Instant boiling hot water is Australias premier manufacturer of filtered boiling and chilled water units for use in private and commercial applications. Manufactured in Victoria and represented nationally.

  117. Genius! Husband and all 4 kids loved this, and in my house, that is a serious accomplishment, you have no idea. Good work, and thanks again for all the healthy recipes made with real food

  118. I used "No-oodles" (hope I can put that on the site). I threw them in the food processor, and pulsed a few times. I put in 3 packs instead of the barley. It should cut out about 11 points+. I also assumed that I could use less water, so I only used 5 cups. It's delicious, and 6 points for dinner; and it keeps me full all night, which was VERY surprising.

  119. emilia – I thought barley was gluten free…..

  120. I really liked this meal. I used 2 cans of beef broth + 2 cups of water and added 2 tsp of salt + 1/2 tsp garlic salt because I didn't think it was salty enough and the garlic helped. I gave some to my grandmother and she said it tasted just like her mother's beef barley soup. Next time I make this I will use quinoa so my gluten-free mom can have some.

  121. I have never made beef barley soup before, but tried this recipe today as a "cook once and eat all week" idea. It was amazingly easy, is so hearty and healthy. Can't wait to bring it to work for lunch this week…thanks for sharing this gem!

  122. What kind of pot do you use to brown the meat? What brand? I need a new one.

  123. I LOVE this recipe! I have made it twice now, and it is an absolute favorite in our home. The second time I made it, I made a few changes that we really enjoyed. First, I made the beef cubes even smaller by cutting them almost into a dice. Then I doubled the amount of carrots, onion and celery, and added 1 pound chopped portabella mushrooms, and added 2 more cups of water to accomodate all the vegetables. Finally, I used HULLED barley, which is more nutritious than pearled barley. I soaked 2/3 cup of hulled barley in lukewarm water for 4 hours prior to putting in the soup. I followed all the cooking directions as printed otherwise. WE LOVE THIS!!! The mushrooms add a bit more meatyness that my hubby really enjoyed! Oh – and I used 2 T kosher salt, and it was plenty salty even with all the additional vegetables.

  124. This is THE BEST beef barley soup I've ever had. I like that canned beef broth is not required. Just plain water. It is hearty and filling. I'm going to make it again today. I think I will freeze some as well. I assume it will freeze well. Peggy

  125. I just made this today and it is fabulous. I used 4 cups of beef broth and 2 cups of water. I followed the comment about sauteing mushrooms in a little butter and coating with flour before adding to thicken the soup which worked very well. This is my first skinnytaste recipe – it won't be my last! Thanks!

  126. I cooked this today too – and I had to add beef boullion granules – and I lessened the salt. I think next time I might throw some tomatoes in – but other than that,it turned out very well. Thanks for the recipe!

  127. I have made this twice in 2 weeks. It's awesome! I made it in the crock pot. I first brown the meat/onions, then add everything to crock pot – set to 8 hrs. It came out great! I did add a package of sliced baby bella mushrooms at the end, which I sauteed first in a tiny pat of butter. I sprinkled a little flour on the mushrooms then added to the crock pot. It made a slightly thicker broth. I also added a few dashes of worcestershire sauce. Thanks for the recipe!

  128. I made this yesterday. It was good and will be making it again. Next time I will be adding sliced mushrooms.

  129. I got an electric pressure cooker for Christmas and would like to make this recipe. However, I'm wondering: do you use less water when you use a pressure cooker? What I've read so far is that pressure cookers use less water. Thanks for your help.

  130. This is looking fantastic and I was going to make this today but do not have the barley. Do you think this could work with rice in place of barley? Have sick kiddos and not able to run to the store 🙁

    Thanks and hope you are having a nice weekend!

  131. I've got this on the stove now and it smells amazing!

  132. The soup is easy to make and very good. Next time I am going to add beef bullion. It needed more flavor and fortunately I found sodium free beef bullion!

  133. Just made this today and my husband said he could eat that everyday for the rest of his life. Thanks for the recipe!

  134. I made this for the family tonight and it was delish! I was a little worried that my beef would come out tough (it looked pretty tough when browning), but was pleasantly surprised at how tender it was when we sat down to eat. I, too, have a picky toddler who doesn't eat meat. She tried the beef and spit it out (no surprise), but ate two helpings of the soup without the beef! This is gonna make great leftovers for this week!

  135. I just wanted to say hom much I love this soup…I probably make it once every 2 weeks!!! It's perfect for winter and my family loves it 🙂

    Thanks for a great recipe!


  136. Just wanted to say thanks for this, and all of your recipes! I have the beef barley soup simmering right now….it is the 2nd time i have made it and my family loves it! Thanks!

  137. Hi Gina. Just wanted to say thank for you for posting your delicious recipes. I love each one I do! Im going to do this one this week :))

  138. This is my current favorite recipe. I use no-salt-added beef broth. My local grocery store carries beef round stew meet that has been through a meet tenderizer. It is perfect for this recipe. I make the recipe exactly as written except for the beef broth — it has no fat and is not salted.

    • There is no broth in the recipe, just water, the meat makes the broth, or am I missing something??

      • It flavors itself with the meat and veggies cooking for so long.

      • I did add either beef bullion or can of beef broth just to bolster the flavor.

      • Hi Tina. I used a 32 oz. Box of beef broth and 2 cups of water. Also deglazed my pan with about 1/3 cup of red wine and let it reduce for 8-10 minutes. Then I added about 2 tablespoons of sugar  which cut down on the acidity of the tomatoes. It doesn’t make it sweet but I think necessary to balance the overall flavor of the soup.. The soup is delicious. 

  139. Made this for dinner tonight. Another delicious recipe!

  140. This turned out great! Will definitely use this recipe to create care packages for sick friends and family!

  141. I made this for dinner the other night as is and it was delicious. So, so easy to make.

  142. I found this one to be a little low on flavor, so I added beef bullion. Next time I will make with beef stock. Otherwise, it was delicious and filling.

  143. Made this for dinner last night. Used 4 cups low-sodium beef broth and 2 cups water. Also added a 15oz can diced tomatoes. No other changes. It was delicous and very filling. My husband loved it, too. Will definitely make it again.

  144. Made this recipe last night in my Dutch oven, woke up this morning and I have one serving left. Boyfriend devoured it after I went to bed. Will be making this recipe again!! YUM!

  145. I made this recipe and it was amazing. I did use venison instead of beef. The family loved it.

  146. Another great recipe! It's a keeper!

  147. Delicious. I used my pressure cooker to make a work day, week night dinner that my husband and I both loved. I didn't have any bay leaf, but I did add a little bit of thyme. I also went a little bit light on the salt, and it was still delicious and savory. And leftovers to look forward to!

  148. I didn't think I liked beef & barley soup, but this was wonderful! Just a few minor changes to match what I had at home.

    I had purchased a value pack of sirloins and had some left that I needed to use up. So, I ended up trimming that well and using it for the meat. I was probably closer to only 1 lb of meat, but it was all I had. Like some others had suggested, I used 4 cups of beef broth (1 box) and 2 cups of water. I left out the bay leaf. Everything else was done as the recipe stated, except for I followed the directions on my box of barley and cooked it 45-50 minutes. I did a taste test at 35 minutes, and they were still too firm.

    Since this was a time intensive soup, I made it the night before, let it cool for about 20 minutes, and then put it into the fridge. The next night we had it for supper. The barley had absorbed even more of the liquid overnight. Heated it up for a few minutes and it was wonderful. Each piece of barley had so much flavor, that I don't even think we missed being a little short on meat. My husband went back for seconds and told me we needed to make this one again. I had just enough left to fill a 3 cup container to bring to work to have for lunch for 2 days.

    I'm hoping that this freezes well. I'd like to make a double batch and freeze half.

  149. This was a HUGE hit with my family 🙂

    I made 2 changes –

    1. I used the crock pot – I started this the night before we had it for dinner and after browning the meat I transferred everything into the crock pot (except for the barley) and put it in the fridge overnight. The next morning took it out and set it to cook on low all day while I was at work. (Turned it on at 6am) When I got home at 4 I put in the barley and let it continue to cook while I took my daughter to soccer. An hour or so later the barley was done and the soup was delicious!!

    2. I used unsalted beef stock instead of water

    Thank you so much for this great recipe – my daughter has already asked for it again!

  150. Incredible soup! Thanks, Gina.

  151. My family loved this soup! I doubled the recipe and in 2 days it is all gone 🙁
    We like big big flavors so it was just a tad bland so the only change I made was adding a few teaspoons of "better than bullion-beef" Really hardy and filling too! I'll be making this again real soon!

  152. Made this last week and it was super tasty! I did a few things differently:

    1. I removed the beef from the pot and then added the veggies.
    2. I added a splash of white wine to deglaze the pot of the meaty flavor, then added the meat back in
    3. Had to add another good three cups of water toward the end. I usually love really thick soup, but this tasted way better as a thinner one.

    Will be making again, love all the flavors! 🙂

  153. I made this a week or so ago, and it was amazing. One issue I had was that I cooked it on medium-low heat for 1 hr 45 mins before adding the barley. Once I added the barley, within a half hour it soaked up all of my liquid! I had to throw in an additional 2 or so cups of water. I also added 3 beef boullion cubes to my original 6 cups of water. I ate this for days! It got better with time!

  154. Just made this today to have for dinner tomorrow. Had to have a little cup of it for a starter tonight because it smelled so amazing, and it was out of this world delicious! Added diced mushrooms and a scoop of gold label beef base for extra richness. Sooooo perfect for a rainy weekend!

  155. Just an FYI, made this in the crock pot and it came out divine! hubby was verrrry happy. only changes: added one can diced tomatoes, a good shake of dried italian herbs, and a little more salt and pepper to taste. also browned the meat first, other wise dumped everything in crockpot low for 8 hours came out fantastic!

  156. Do you think you could sub the barley for quinoa?

  157. Sadly, not a fave but to be fair I have never had beef stew before, so maybe it was just the newness of the flavor that I was unfamiliar with. After reading through the comments I did use 4 cups low sodium beef broth and 2 cups water. I also added some thyme and much more garlic and salt and I still found the broth to be a bit bland. I guess I got spoiled by Gina's taco soup. That one is a keeper!

  158. I bought Pot Barley instead of Pearl Barley. Will there be a big difference in the taste of the soup? Should I put the Pot Barley in earlier because I read that it takes longer to cook and if so, how much longer would you suggest? An hour?

  159. I made this today up to the barley point because I am planning on eating it tomorrow. Do you think if I throw it in the crock pot on low with the barley in the morning that it would come out alright?

  160. Excellent recipe! I used 1lb organic stew beef and couldn't get enough of this recipe. Simple, yet totally satisfying!

  161. I made this today in my crockpot. Great fall/winter comfort food. I did skim through the comments and noticed several people saying to brown the meat before putting it in the crockpot, so that's what I did. The consistency of mine was more of a stew than a soup (a stewp?) but if you wanted it more soup like all you would have to do is add a bit more liquid. I had mine on low for about 6 hours and it was perfect. I will absolutely be making this one again! Thanks, Gina!

  162. This was delicious. I'm worried that my husband will have eaten the entire pot by the time I get home from work. Thanks Gina!

  163. Gina,
    I have tons of quick cooking barley, do you think it's ok to use it instead of the regular stuff?

    • Made it with the quick cooking barley and it came out great! When I go into my brother's room with a spoonful for him to taste test and he comes into the kitchen 3 minutes later asking for more, I think I got an approval on this one! lol

  164. Excellent recipe! Perfect amount of flavor (I was worried because of the lack of beef stock/broth). Will definitely make again!!!

  165. The pot is cooking right now!! I have read every beef barley soup receipe around and yours sounds the best! As I cannot eat tomato anything, I was happy to find one that didnt rely on that ingredient. Thanks for the receipe!!!

  166. This is on my list of things to make this weekend. It looks delicious!

  167. This was AMAZING. My man does not typically love veggie beef soup, but he said "You can make this as often as you want." This is the perfect meal to bring to a new mom, too.

  168. I'm not quite sure where I went wrong with this recipe. My soup is SO thick and I've probably added about 10 cups of water. It's finally finished cooking and still, SO thick. Since it's pretty bland too I'm thinking about adding a tin of chicken stock, since I have no beef stock.
    Any ideas? and would chicken stock ruin the beef flavour?

  169. This is cooking on my stove right now and smells so good! I have your apple butter in my crockpot and baked the pumpkin muffins this afternoon. You are amazing and make it fun and delicious to stay on track with ww. Thank you!

  170. Made this tonight. I used beef broth in place of the water. It came out great. Thank you!

  171. Absolutely wonderful! I got some excellent local stewing meat and followed the directions exactly with the exception of using 2lbs (sold in 1lb packages) and adjusting the rest of the amounts accordingly. No beef broth needed. I froze most of it and just had some for lunch. It really does freeze well. I think that it might be the type of beef used that might make people need the broth. I love my salt but did not feel this needed anymore than the recipe called for. This one goes into my winter soup rotation!

  172. I made this last night and it was delicious. The meat was very tender. Loved the barley. Another great recipe.

  173. I just made this for lunch – I subbed with 4 cups of beef broth and 2 cups of water. Then I needed to add a little more than a cup of water after I added the barley because it was soaking up all the liquid. The flavors are just amazing! Will definitely make it on to my list of faves. I'm freezing the rest for lunches.


  174. I have loved all your recipes and never had a problem until this one. I only made one minor change which was using only one clove of garlic.
    We didn't enjoy this at all. I felt it should have called for beef broth instead of water as the broth was pale and tasteless. So I threw in a half can of diced tomatoes and juice which was better. Have no idea what went wrong.

    But thanks for all the other recipes.


  175. I made this last night and loved it…so did my 7 year old. The one question I do have is how did you get your beef to get so tender? In the picture above the beef looks like it's just falling apart. My stew meat was definitly tough and I ended up cutting it into smaller pieces for my daughter. I'm looking forward to eating it for dinner again tonight. Thank you!!

  176. This soup was fantastic. I dredged the beef in a flour/salt/pepper mix before browning it so that it turned out a little thicker. Also, didn't have barley so used buckwheat groats that I found. Was even happier to find the soup listed in my fitness pal's food bank. Thanks for all the great recipes!

  177. I made this last night and it was lovely. Got some in the fridge for my lunch tomorrow. Another outstanding recipe, a really good soup for after the gym. Not too heavy not too light. Wonderful. I did use a bit of beef stock in mine instead of the added salt.

  178. This was really easy and tasted great! I couldn't believe how flavorful it was considering there aren't that many ingredients. Even my 2 year old loved it! Have you ever tried to freeze it? I wonder if freezing would ruin the texture of the barley.

  179. I made this last night. Super, super delish! Thanks Gina!

  180. I made this last night and it turned out great. I added a 1/2 tsp of thyme which gave it a nice flavor.

  181. Hi Gina! I'm making this right now, can't wait for it to finish.

    Question about the beef – whenever I've made beef soop or stew, I've always browned the meat in batches so as not to "steam" it. However now I'm not sure with this recipe. Does it matter if it's browned/steamed all in one go or is it preferable to brown in batches?

  182. YUM!!! Just had this for dinner. So full of flavor! Even my son who has never had barley before gobbled this up! Thanks again Gina for yet another tasty meal 🙂

  183. Soup was great- not sure why others critique you! They should simply add what they wish. Thank you for a wonderful blog site. I have made many of your recipes!

  184. How long do you think the soup will "stay" in the refridge? I'd like to make it today and eat it for dinner during the week.

    • It keeps just fine. I didn't polish off the leftovers for over a week.

    • Cooked meats are only safe in the fridge for 3-4 days, I can't imagine eating anything previously cooked that is 7 or more days old. Eew.
      With that said, my husband (who has the stomach of a billy goat) always says "Just nuke it for an extra minute…" and he has never had food poisoning!

  185. Gina, I love your recipes! So far everything has been a hit with my husband and 10 month old! I love that you do not sacrifice wholesome foods to save on points, so it is safe to give my baby. I am not on weight watchers but I enjoy cooking more knowing I am not going to feel guilty afterwards, so thank you! Barley soup is cooking!

  186. This was SO good. I actually forgot about it since my husband was late from work and all the liquid had boiled out. So I just added 6 more cups of water :). Best beef soup we've ever had! Thanks Gina!

  187. Gina,

    What kind of oil do you use?

  188. I'm so mad! After I added the beef I realized I didn't get the lean cut!! Grrrr I'm just going to make it I dnt want to waste…do you know how many more pts it will add?

    Thank you

  189. For those of you who do this in the crock pot… at what setting and how long? Making this over the weekend! Thank you in advance!

  190. I loved the soup. I added a 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour and 3 small yellow potatoes to thicken it up a bit. The soup was delicious and the whole family loved it. I had eye round steak I used instead of going out and buying stew meat and it worked out just fine.

    I buy eye round steak in bulk at restaurant warehouse and just slice it up and freeze. I do this will all of my meats and it saves me a ton of money (skirt steak, chicken cutlets & eye round)

  191. Thanks for the pressure cooker instructions for this recipe… I was taught to use the pressure cooker while living in italy for over 10yrs and it is so convenient and fast w/o losing flavour at all – in fact, I swear it gives more if you do it right…. amazing how so many here in NAmerica do not use a pressure cooker 🙂

    • I agree, I love my pressure cooker. I have the old school kind you put on the stove and I just love how the flavors come out.

  192. If you use hulled barley do you have to add more water because of a longer cooking time?

  193. Made this last night and it was delicious! Thanks Gina!

  194. can't wait to try, this is one of my favorite soups

  195. Oh! One of my favorites! So happy to have a healthy version to add to my fall repertoire!

  196. Picture looks just like my mother's!!!

  197. How much quinoa would we use as a barley substitute? I love your recipes and appreciate you supplying the points plus values!!

  198. sounds so good and delicious, and is simple to cook. asked my granny to prepare it for all of us at home.

  199. Beef Barley is one of my favorite soups and I plan to try this recipe when I know I wont pass out in my kitchen from the heat.
    When reading the ingredients and instructions, I wondered what the soup would be like with kale or even Swiss chard added. Couldn't hurt to try.

  200. I can't wait to try this. I miss beef and barley soup. Mom used to make it as kids. She would use marrow bones (used to get them free with the meat) but now they cost as much if not more than the meat… Thank you for sharing!

  201. I love barley soups both beef and chicken, but I always add fresh mushrooms and at less one or two can of low-sodium stock (beef or chicken)

  202. This is a definite favourite of mine even straight out of the can. This will be so much better. I would encourage everyone to use the more nutritious hulled or pot barleys. Better for you and tastier but they do need longer to cook.

  203. Making this in the crockpot as I type this! Can't wait to have a bowl of hot soup with italian bread…YUM!!!

  204. Funny- I made a beef barley soup a few days ago and it was good, but yours looks so much better! I'll be trying this soon! Thanks for all of your wonderful recipes!

  205. Cooking right now and is smelling delicious… regards from Malta

  206. I'm sure it is filling.. I just don't think I'd want to eat soup for dinner. Soup is more of a lunch for me, and that is a lot of points for me to use for lunch. It looks really good, I just wish it wasn't so high in points.

    • Then don't make it.

    • Cindy, it is quite high in points. If you like the idea of having the soup, but one not so quite high in points – try the stuffed pepper soup (without the rice). It's a great starter, and super tasty to boot!


    • Or you can have less, have 1 cup as a starter, i think that would be 6 points.

    • Follow the directions for the recipe and cook the meat for the extra half hour that you would use for the barley, ten minutes before it's finished, add rices cauliflower. The texture will remain similar and cut way back on points!

  207. I love my daily recipes and would love a cookbook with all of them included!

    Have you heard of or have a recipe for making mayonaise with "milk"? I would think it would be lower in calorie and not so perishable without the eggs.

  208. A note about barley, pearled barley is like white rice, it's had the good for you outer layer removed. Hulled barley is like the brown rice version, it still has that good for you layer left on. I get mine in Whole Foods bulk bin for pretty cheap!


  209. LOVE beef barley!!

  210. I make this all the time. It's my daughter's favorite dish but I use peas and mushrooms. So good. She likes it a little thicker so I add extra barley. The starch from the barley thickens it up without having to add flour.

  211. Going back to the pressure cooker directions… When do you start timing the 30 minutes? When it starts jiggling, or do you start the time when you lock the lid and put it on the flame?

  212. This sounds perfect for cooler weather. Right now it's in the 90's! It seems CA has been a little late on the warm weather this year, better late then never!

    • Jennifer, it does not cool down (in So Cal at least) until after the Jewish holidays…when in October. Near mid October…

  213. I love this recipe. It's great on a rainy day.

  214. Looks delicious! Can't wait to make this on a Fall evening! Unrelated, but may I ask what pattern is that bowl? It's beautiful!

  215. gina-i do not have whole bay leaves-i have chopped ones-can i leave them in? or should i leave it out all together? i dont have cheese cloth or anything like that to hold the bay leaves separated…

  216. Looks so so good! It is a rainy day here (unusal for us) so this would hit the spot! Thanks! xoxo Stefanie @

  217. I asked my hubby to find me an easy FAST meal from skinnytaste and to text me the ingredients. This is what he came up with. Easy but not so fast. But, it looked so yummy that I couldn't turn down his request. The soup is cooking now. Looks like we will have a yummy dinner just a bit later! 🙂 Thanks Gina. I think even my three year old will like this!

  218. Hi Gina! This is my first time commenting on your blog, but I just wanted to say I absolutely love your recipes and appreciate what you do so much. I have been on WW since the end of January and have lost just over 25 pounds so far. I honestly don't think I would have been very successful without your recipes. I feel like I can eat like a real person, and it's GREAT! Thanks for sharing all these great recipes with us! 🙂

  219. I make this all the time. Love it. If you want additional heft (I have 2 teenage boys), I sometimes add some baby potatoes. Obviously, can't add too many – it gets really heavy.

    I've been known to throw in whatever leftover veggies are on hand, or if I don't have carrots & celery, I dump in a bag of frozen mixed. It works so well with anything.

    ALso, I make it in the crock pot Just throw it all in there together.

  220. Sorry – I just read the times again. So pressure cooking would cut it down by about 1/2-1hr. 30 min in the pressure cooker for the meat just sounded like a long time, but then – I have zero experience! 🙂

  221. Hi Gina! I've been wanting to try my pressure cooker that has been sitting in my cupboard for over a year and thought this would be perfect. However, I am wondering if the cook time is accurate? Seems that there really is no time saving with the pressure cooker. Can the barley not cook under pressure?

    • Yes, it cuts down 1 hour of cooking time on the meat, which is what takes the most time. The barley just needs 30 minutes to cook, you could probably seal the lid again and do it in 15 minutes.

  222. This might be the most perfect thing ever. Love it!!

  223. This is one of my favorite soups to make. Nice and simple.

  224. Wow, Gina, this looks like another winner! Can't wait to try it 🙂

  225. Oh wow, I'd love to dive right into that. I'm SO ready for soup weather!

  226. I wonder if you could use left over pot roast in this recipe? I think I'll give it a whirl. I made a roast the other night and have quite a bit left…

    • Sure, why not!

    • Yep, it turned out amazing! Definitely going to make this from now on following pot roast night. Since its just me and the boyfriend, we never eat a full pot roast. What a great use for the extras! I had never used barely in a soup before- I'm hooked 🙂

  227. Could you use chicken instead of beef? How would that change the intensity of the flavoring?

  228. yummy! looks good gina!

  229. Even though it has yet to cool down here, I would still love to have a bowl of this.

  230. I am adding some of these ingredients to my grocery list to make TONIGHT. This looks like it will become my new favorite meal. Thanks Gina!

  231. This looks great!

  232. sounds so simple and thats really LOW in sodium…so glad to have a soup recipe that's tasty without adding broth or stock…just good old water! I have to watch salt and protien intake, so I'd have to cut back on the portion or the amount of beef initially…I LOVED Campbells Beef & Barley but had to give it up because of the sodium…this is gonna be one I try soon!

    • Yes, providing you use 1 tsp kosher salt. I like my food with more salt so I used 2 tsp but I wanted to give those of you who are watching your sodium options.

  233. I make beef barley soup all the time in the slow cooker–works out great. Add everything, even the barley, and it's fine. I also add in a can of low sodium diced tomatoes to give it a beefy-tomato flavor.

    • thanks for the slow cooker tip 🙂

    • Do i need to brown the meat before I put it in the slow cooker? I would assume not but just wanted to check.

    • I would brown the meat first since you get a lot of flavor that way. I always brown the meat for my beef stew before putting it in the crock pot.

    • I strongly agree with star519. Always brown meat prior to putting it in the slow cooker. You get a head start on both the cooking time and, ESPECIALLY, the flavor of the meat. DON'T skip browning the meat.

    • Actually I almost brown the meat to the point that it is almost burned. Then in the same pan after I remove the meat, I slowly….very slowly saute' the onions then add the tomato paste to enhance the full flavor of everything. I have also roasted my veggies in the oven before adding to the slow cooker.

      I know it sounds like a lot to do for a slow cooker but well worth the time.

  234. Could you do this in the crock pot?

  235. Great dinner idea. I bet it would be great also in a slow cooker but just wondering when I would add barley?

  236. I'm just curious, what is making this soup so high in points? The only thing that really has points is the beef.. is there any way to reduce the points further? 7 old WW points seems like a lot for one serving of soup.

    • This is a meal and filling, 7 points for a dinner is quite low.

    • Barley has it's share of points too. If only my dh would understand that soup like this is a meal. I would go through the work and he'd wonder what is for supper still, lol. This and a salad would be perfect for me.

    • LOL, you could always give him some garlic biscuits on the side!

    • As my husband would say, garlic biscuits make EVERYTHING better.

    • I make a lot of soups. If my soup has meat in it ie: beef or chicken I refrigerate it overnight and skim off the fat in the morning. It's an extra step and requires more planning but it does cut down on the fat and I would imagine the points.

    • I'm making Beer Bread and a small salad and hope it will fill my husband and teenagers!

  237. I like my beef barley soup thick, how would you thicken this up?

    • You can add a little flour to thicken it by making a slurry (little cold water and a tablespoon or 2 of flour) mix and pour it into the soup after it comes to a boil.

    • if you are gluten free you can use Arrowroot as a thickener or corn starch. You can also add a little instant mashed potatoes to thicken soups you can also add more barley.

    • Grate in a small peeled potato-thickens up the soup nicely!

    • Except that barley is not gluten free, therefore you shouldnt be having thus soup to begin with.

    • I always use cornstarch mixed in a little water for a thickener. A recipe I have for chili
      uses tapioca as a thickener.

    • If you are gluten free you can not eat barley. Gluten is in wheat, barley. rye and oats (by cross contamination only). This is beef and barley soup therefore by definition it contains gluten. You could substitute the barley and make beef and rice soup of beef and quinoa soup.

  238. This looks SO yummy and refreshingly simple. Why water and not broth?

    • There's plenty of flavor from the beef and vegetables that basically create a beef broth, but you can sub in beef broth if you wish and leave out the salt.

    • I used one can of red sodium beef broth and 4 cups of water and it was delicious!