This soup is lovingly simmered on the stove or in the crock pot to produce the richest Beef Barley Soup recipe I’ve ever tasted. Shredded carrots and potatoes give it a fabulous, thick texture.

Beef Barley Soup from

Originally published October 2, 2014

I still remember the first time I walked into Eric’s parent’s house. I mean, of course I remember it, Eric and I were practically engaged before I met his family, so you know, no pressure. Hi, I’m going to be here FOREVER, hope you don’t hate me. (We were married 5 months later.)

The reason I remember walking through the door so vividly is because of the delicious smell. Soup. The soup to end all soups.

Prepping Carrots Beef Barley Soup

My mother-in-law Kris is one of the best cooks I know. I’m addicted to recipes (part of the reason I started this blog–it’s a catalogue my friends, plain and simple) but she is a true cook, adding ingredients by gut instinct rather than what some imposing recipe says. (I do that sometimes…and sometimes I have to throw dinner in the trash.)

Beef Barley Soup Recipe

Her Beef Barley Soup is literally the definition of comfort food for me. It reminds me of being in her cozy kitchen in Montana, with snow fluttering outside that somehow makes you feel warmer, and this aromatic soup simmering on the stove, with the cats nosing around to see what the smell is.

How to make Beef Barley Soup

You should have heard me try to finagle this recipe out of her. She sent me an email with the basic beef barley soup recipe but I still had to text her 7 times and call her twice. It worked, because the soup tastes exactly like hers. Which is to say, it tastes just like home.

Slow Cooker Recipes Beef

The shredded carrots and potatoes are part of the reason this soup is so fabulous. It gives it great texture, on top of the barley. This was my first time buying barley. I had to ask where it was after checking by the oats and then the flour. (It was by the dry rice and beans. Here’s the kind of barley you’re looking for.) (Update! I tried this with quick pearl barley in December 2016. It worked awesome and was done in half the time.)

I call this a lazy-day soup. Make it on a rainy day at home when your most exciting task is laundry. It will make you feel all warm and nostalgic, I promise. Or, if you want to eat this on a weekday, throw it in the crock pot and add the barley when you get home.

Beef Barley Soup from TheFoodCharlatan.comDon’t forget to brown the meat. Gives it tons of flavor.

Beef Barley Soup from

I love Better than Bouillon. It adds the BEST flavor to soup.

Beef Barley Soup from

I’m telling you guys. Shredded potatoes/carrots is where it’s at. Use a food processor if you have one, but if not a normal cheese grater will do.

Beef Barley Soup from TheFoodCharlatan.comI don’t like huge pieces of celery, so this is how I chop mine.

 Beef and Barley Soup

Well guys, if all goes according to plan, this is the last time I will hit publish with this blog design. I’m so excited to show you! I feel like I just got a new wardrobe. Soon I will make you all sit in the living room while I model my new outfits.

I love making this crusty One Hour French Bread to go with this Beef Barley soup. If you are serving a lot of people and need another side, make this Apple Gorgonzola Salad, or this Raspberry Avocado Salad with Poppyseed Dressing.

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One year ago: Sriracha Garlic Bread
Two years ago: Cake Mix Coffee Cake
Three years ago: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel Frosting

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Beef Barley Soup

Serves Serves 8     adjust servings


  • 2 pounds stew meat (nicely marbled beef chunks)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 10 cups water
  • 3 mounded tablespoons good quality beef base*
  • 3 stalks celery (about 2 cups), chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large potato, peeled and shredded, about 2 cups
  • 3-4 large carrots, peeled and shredded, about 2 cups
  • 1 cup pearl barley*** rinsed


  1. Generously salt and pepper the beef. In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  2. When it is very hot, add about 1/3 of the meat. 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 in 2 more batches. (If you add it all at once it will steam the meat instead of browning it--not what you want.)
  4. When all the meat is browned, add all the meat back to the pot with 10 cups of water. Add 3 healthy tablespoons beef stock concentrate.
  5. Add the chopped celery, onions, and garlic. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 2 hours with the lid on.
  6. When the meat is tender and you can break it apart easily with a wooden spoon, add the shredded potato and carrots. Bring to a boil, then continue to simmer on low for another 30-45 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
  7. Add 1 cup of barley. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low. Cook for another half hour, or until barley is tender and the soup home.

Slow cooker instructions:

  1. In a large pan, brown the meat according to the instructions. Remove the browned meat to a large crockpot.
  2. Add 2 cups of the water to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir up all the browned bits. Add this and the remaining 8 cups of water to the crock pot.
  3. Add the beef base, celery, onions, and garlic to the slow cooker and stir.
  4. Cook on low for about 6 hours. Add the potatoes and carrots and cook for another hour.
  5. Add the barley and simmer for another hour or so, until it is tender.


If you make this recipe, share it on Instagram using the hashtag #TheFoodCharlatan so I can see it!

Other soups you will love:

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup with Italian Sausage and Pesto

minestrone with sausage in a stock pot

Cheeseburger Soup: (45 minutes)

Cheeseburger Soup

 Cream Cheese Chicken Chili: (Slow cooker)

Cream Cheese Chicken Chili (Crockpot)

 Easy Cheddar Cauliflower Soup: (45 minutes)

Easy Cheddar Cauliflower Soup

More soup from friends:

Slow Cooker Enchilada Soup from Weary Chef
Easy Chicken and Dumpling Soup from Melanie Makes
Tortellini Cheddar Cheese Soup from Simply Gloria