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This hearty Beef & Barley Soup can be made in the slow cooker or on the stove top. Serve with crusty bread or a salad for a delicious meal!

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A white bowl of beef and barley soup with a sliver spoon in it.

There’s just something so cozy about a big bowl of soup on a cold winter day. Now that we’re in the boring part of winter here in the Midwest (ya know, between the holidays and spring….), soup season is in full swing!

This Beef and Barley Soup is one my mom has made for years. It’s hearty, savory and makes for the perfect comfort food. Although I didn’t appreciate it growing up, now I’ve learned that the soup is also a cinch to make!

What kind of beef should I put in the Beef and Barley Soup?

The soup calls for stew meat, which is what I typically use. When you see “stew meat” at the grocery store, it’s typically cubed roast meat (like a chuck roast or round roast).

Because a roast tends to be a little more tough than say a steak, it does really well in an application where it’s cooked low and slow….Beef and Barley Soup!

Can I make Beef and Barley Soup on the stovetop or in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can make it either way. Here’s how!

SLOW COOKER: Place all ingredients into a slow cooker (other than the seasonings and corn starch) and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Then, whisk in the water and corn starch mixture until slightly thickened.

STOVE TOP: When I make this on the stove top, I like to sear the meat first to get some more bits of yummy caramelization. Then, I’ll add the remaining ingredients (other than the seasonings and corn starch) and bring to a boil.

Once the soup has reached a boil, reduce the temperature and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the meat is tender and the barley is soft. Remove the bay leave and seasoning with salt and pepper. Lastly, whisk in the water and corn starch mixture until slightly thickened.

An over head shot of a bowl of soup on a wooden board.

Which type of barley is best for soup?

Hulled barley or pearl barley are both really great options. I’ve discovered that pearl barley is much easier to find (at least at my grocery store) than hulled barley.

I typically just grab what I need at the bulk bins in the health section of the grocery store. This is simply because I don’t go through a whole big bag of barley quick enough for it to make sense.

Should I cook the barley before adding it to the soup?

Nope! That’s one reason this soup is so darn easy! Everything goes in raw/uncooked and comes out hours later so beautiful.

Can I use quick barley in soup?

You can. However, because it cooks so fast, I’d recommend waiting to add it until about 1 hour prior to serving.

A bowl of beef and barley soup with a croissant on the side.

What goes with Beef and Barley Soup for dinner?

I like to serve this soup with a crust bread, a salad or bowl of fruit, and of course, a delicious dessert! Here are some of my top recommendations for sides and dessert…..

Strawberry Spinach Salad – I love that this recipe brings some brightness and vibrancy to the meal. It’s like bringing some sunshine into the cold, dreary days!

Easy No-Knead Bread – This bread is simple to put together and has a nice crust on the outside. It’s the perfect homemade bread for this hearty soup!

Twinkie Cake – This cake is light and fluffy with the most delicious creamy filling. It’ll lighten up a super hearty meal and finish it off on the right note!

Get the recipe for Beef and Barley Soup below!

Beef and Barley Soup

Beef and Barley Soup

Author: Kelsey
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 10 minutes
This hearty Beef & Barley Soup can be made in the slow cooker or on the stove top. Serve with crusty bread or a salad for a delicious meal!


  • Slow Cooker


  • 1 – 1 1/2 pounds cubed stew beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 3/4 cup dry barley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper optional
  • 1 teaspoon salt optional
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water


  • In a slow cooker, combine the stew meat, onion, celery, carrots, barley, bay leaf and broth.
  • Cook the soup on low for 6-8 hours.
  • Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the salt and pepper, to taste.
  • If you'd like your soup to be a little thicker, combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Whisk into the soup and let cook on low for a few more minutes.


Calories: 221kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 976.5mg | Potassium: 586mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 3470IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 3mg
“Dance Around the Kitchen” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe added to the Weekend Potluck.

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  1. The recipe does not say when to add the barley. I know that you put it in with the rest of the ingredients but some may not. My mom used to throw in some diced tomatoes also.