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Homemade Beef Barley Soup in a white soup bowl over a red napkin

Homemade Beef Barley Soup

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We were in the midst of a bitterly cold stretch and I was making a meal for a dear friend. It was the perfect day to make a comforting Beef Barley Soup from scratch.

Homemade Beef Barley Soup in a white soup bowl over a red napkin

Homemade Beef Stock

I’ve made chicken stock numerous time, but never beef. There are some decent chicken broths and stocks on the market, but the beef versions seem to fall short. I knew I’d have to start the soup recipe off with a flavorful base, so bought 4+ pounds of bone-in chuck roast to start the process.

Homemade Beef Barley Soup in a white soup terrineBeef Barley Soup

Once the broth was made, strained and defatted, it was time to continue layering the flavors. A mirepoix of onions, carrots and celery was sauteed before mushrooms, then broth, shredded herbs and barley were added to the mix.

Simmered till the barley was tender and all the flavors married beautifully, I can truthfully say this was one of the most magnificent soups I’ve ever tasted. Pure comfort.

Homemade Beef Barley Soup in a white basketweave bowl garnished with thyme

Tips for Making Homemade Beef Soup

This was a time-consuming dish to make since it is totally from scratch. But if you’re ever stuck at home during the winter due to inclement weather, it would be the perfect opportunity to make a batch of this terrific Beef Barley Soup. You’ll love it!

  • Allot a good chunk of your day to make the broth and soup. Or make your broth on one day and finish the soup recipe on another!
  • You can also chop all your onions, vegetables ahead of time and keep them refrigerated.
  • The layering of flavors is key; the homemade broth, the aromatics and vegetables, the marbled beef and the herbs all play a key role.
  • Alcohol is a flavor enhancer, so unless you have a dietary restriction, don’t skip the red wine in the broth. The alcohol will evaporate during the cooking process.

This Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Mushrooms, this Easy Beef Stroganoff with Cognac Cream Sauce, and this Bacon Mushroom Risotto with Caramelized Onions are also winning comfort foods!

Homemade Beef Barley Soup

Homemade Beef Barley Soup

Fabulous beef barley soup made from scratch

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Yield 6 servings


For the beef stock:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 pounds bone-in beef chuck, cut into 3-4 pieces
  • 1 onion, cut in half
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • ½ cup canned tomatoes, diced
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Shredded meat from chuck roast, obvious fat removed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • Homemade beef stock
  • 2 cups shredded cooked beef (from the chuck used for stock)
  • Chopped fresh parsley or thyme for garnish


For the beef stock:

  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches if needed, brown the meat and onion on all sides. Set the browned meat and onions aside.
  2. Add the red wine to the pot and cook, using a spoon or spatula to scrape up browned bits from the bottom of the pot, till wine reduces a bit.
  3. Return the meat and onions to the pot, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and cook till they sweat and release 1/2-3/4 cup juices. Add 2 quarts of water and the salt and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, and allow to simmer very gently, with the lid partially off. Simmer till meat is tender, about 2 hours.
  4. Strain broth and discard onions. Remove meat and set aside to cool.
  5. Let the stock cool, then strain again and pour into a fat separator. Let stand and pour off stock and discard fat. Alternatively, skim the fat off the top of the stock. I elected to also chill the stock overnight and remove the small amount of congealed fat remaining.
  6. Shred meat, removing excess fat. Reserve at least 2 cups for the soup.
  7. To make the soup, add oil to a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions, carrots and celery and cook till they begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and cook till they soften and any liquid released evaporates.
  8. Add the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, beef stock, shredded beef and barley to the pot, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the barley is tender, about 45-50 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
Homemade Beef Barley Soup - Worth the time and effort for this extraordinary soup!
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20 comments on “Homemade Beef Barley Soup”

  1. I can’t imagine a stew or soup without the flavour of bay leaf!

  2. Winter returns over here too…freezing cold. This looks so warming, hearty and delicious.

  3. What a fabulous soup, perfect to make on a cold winter day!

  4. Ooh this is totally worth making. I love home made soup and the only ‘faff’ with this is making your own stock, which isn’t really a problem as it sits simmering away happily for a couple of hours, whilst you get on with other things. Utterly delicious, barley in soup is my idea of comfort food. Sammie

  5. What a wonderful hearty looking soup – perfect for a snow day indeed.

  6. Hi Lizzy, this is seriously a ‘stick to your bones’…no pun intended…kind of soup with all the wonderful beef with the bones. Love the barley, and the added mushrooms as well! So perfect for the chilly cold and windy days, even here in S. Florida as well! Proudly pinned it! I’m back on my blog, hopefully to stay! Missed you my dear friend! Also loving the gorgeous Pots de Creme on your previous post…yumm! xoxo

  7. Homemade soups are always wonderful. Your beef barley soup looks really hearty, perfect for the cold winter months. I love that you added mushrooms to this soup, I love mushrooms, but I normally don’t add them to soup. I really need to get started with that.

  8. I love adding barley to soups and stews, it adds a great texture and flavour. A great weekend recipe!

  9. It is actually really cold and gloomy here today, so I will be making this for dinner! Thanks for the great recipe Liz!

  10. What a delicious and hearty dish! Looks lush!
    Thanks so much for sharing!
    Gourmet Getaways

  11. This looks SO comforting, nutritious and flavorful, Liz! Our family has been sick on and off for the past month so soups like this are definitely all we’ve been craving! I love that it’s totally from scratch and wish I had a big bowl 🙂

  12. I love beef barley soup and yours looks rich, hearty and delicious. There’s nothing like making things from scratch and this is a perfect example. Beautiful!

  13. We received 10+ inches of snow and are bracing for another round next week. Making soup is the perfect snowed in activity and I will be prepared. I haven’t had beef barley soup in years and when I did it was from the red and white can. Hands down yours is the winner!

  14. It looks so delicious! Perfect idea for a cold evening!!

  15. What a great soup – I wish our winter would come back!

  16. I love this kind of soup! It seems that barley is listed twice in the ingredients list… as 1/2 cup and as 3/4 cup…can you clarify?

  17. Wish I could slurp your wholesome soup with your mirepoix …And wish it were winter here instead of nearly 80 degrees!

  18. When I was in third grade, the nuns at school made the best barley soup I’ve ever eaten. It was on the menu about once a month and I never missed it. It looked a whole lot like yours so I’m going to make memory food. 🙂

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