Beef and barley soup is the best cure for a cold winter night. Tender beef and stewed vegetables can simmer all afternoon and will warm any dreary day.
What is the best cut of beef for beef and barley soup?
I use beef stew meat for soups like this beef and barley soup. Stew meat is sold already cut into bite-sized pieces and trimmed of fat.
Beef stew meat is typically chuck or round cuts. These are very tough cuts of meat, but are well suited to soups and stews. They don’t lose their texture during long cooking times but rather become tender and juicy the longer they simmer.
If you prefer, you could buy a chuck roast and cut it into pieces for this soup.
For the best results, cook this soup on low temperature for a long time. That gives the meat plenty of time to break down and become flavorful and tender.
Do I need to brown meat for stew?
One of the keys to this recipe is coating the beef in flour. You will pan fry the beef first, and the flour will help it develop a caramelized surface with intense flavor.
The flour also helps protect the meat from the heat of the pan.
Stick with wheat flour for this recipe. It acts as a thickener for the beef and barley soup while it is cooking. If you use any other kind of flour, your soup will end up watery.
What kind of barley is healthiest?
Most grocery stores will have several types of barley to choose from.
- Hulled barley is minimally processed. Only the inedible outer shell has been removed. This is considered a whole grain.
- Pearl barley is the most common kind. It has been polished to remove most of the bran from the outside of the grain. Because of this, it cooks much quicker than hulled barley.
- Quick pearl barley has been partially cooked, dried and rolled. This means that it will cook in about ten minutes.
Do you cook barley before adding it to soup?
Your beef barley soup will simmer long enough to cook the barley. There is no need for the additional step of cooking the barley first. The barley takes about 30 minutes to cook completely.
Because of all the starch in the barley, it will thicken the soup, too. I love a thick beef barley soup. I even add flour to the beef cubes to thicken the broth. But if you prefer a thinner soup, you can cook the barley separately to eliminate some of the starch in the water.
Storing beef and barley soup
Fully cooked beef and barley soup can be stored in the refrigerator for three to four days. The leftovers are amazing as the flavors have more time to meld.
Beef and barley soup can also be frozen. It will last in the freezer for three months. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
And if you’re looking for more freezer-friendly beef soup recipes, check out this delicious Cabbage Roll Soup!
Beef and Barley Soup
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2-3 carrots
- 2-3 stalks celery
- 1 lbs cubed stewing beef
- sea salt
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour - *see notes
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves - or 1/2-1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 cup red wine - *see notes
- 4 cups beef broth
- 3/4 cup barley
- chopped fresh parsley - for garnish
- Peel and finely chop onion and garlic.
- Wash and dice carrots and celery. You want about 1 cup of diced carrots and 1 cup of diced celery.
- Add stewing beef to a silicone bag or bowl, add sea salt, pepper, and flour, and coat the beef cubes well in seasoning and flour.
- Preheat a large pot over medium-low and once hot, add a splash of oil (whichever you like) and brown the beef cubes in batches. Each cube should not touch the next. Sear it for about 2 minutes per side until all sides are browned. Remove each batch before adding the next.
- Once all beef cubes are seared and browned, set them aside in a bowl and add chopped onion and garlic, sauté until they are translucent, and then add diced veggies, tomato paste, sea salt, and thyme, red wine and then deglaze the bottom of the pot with a spatula or a wooden spoon. Liftoff all the browned and burnt bits off and mix into the onion/veggie/wine mixture.
- Return beef cubes to the pot, add beef broth and barley to everything, give it a quick stir, put on the lids and bring it to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 45-55 minutes.
- Serve, sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and enjoy!