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Published January 8, 2021. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Warm-up during those cold winter months with this delicious and easy to make traditional beef and barley soup recipe.
I am a soup person, in fact, I call it my first love. Starting in the fall, and all the way through spring, I am constantly making soups. If you share the same passion for soup, then definitely check out my Mulligatawny or Minestrone.
Beef and Barley Soup
Beef and barley is a fantastic hearty soup jam-packed with meat, root veggies, and barley. It is a derivative of scotch broth which is classically made with lamb, and in some cases is all vegetarian, instead of beef. Beef and barley have been around since the 18th century and essentially was created based on the availability of a product, like many recipes that come from that era.
Like my recipe, it can become a kitchen sink soup since we have the availability of just about every single vegetable around, and year-round.
Like most recipes from the 15th century through the 19th century, an abundance of ingredients was often hard to come by, so you plainly used what you had on hand. To me, these have produced the most delicious recipes throughout the history of our world, that’s why they are still made today.
This recipe in its simplest classic form contains:
- Pork Belly
How to Make It
Follow these instructions to make this delicious beef and barley soup from scratch:
Cook the chopped bacon until crisp and brown, and set aside.
Next, add in the cubed beef and cook until lightly browned and cooked throughout, and then also, set aside.
Pour in a bit of olive oil if there is not enough rendered meat fat in the pot and completely caramelize the onions and leeks until well browned about 30-35 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes and then add in the cooked beef, bacon, prepared root vegetables, bay leaves, and beef stock and cook on low heat for 60 minutes or until the beef and vegetables are tender.
Add in the barley and cook for 30-35 minutes or until the barley is cooked and tender.
Finish the soup with fresh herbs, salt, and pepper, and serve!
While I believe most classic recipes are excellent in their natural state, opportunities sometimes become available without altering the flavor at all. When it comes to a soup like this that only uses root vegetables, then using my school of thought, I believe it would be ok to add in a few more of these tubular veggies.
Here are a few more ingredients you could add to your soup, including the few I added:
Recipe Chef Notes + Tips
Make-Ahead: Soup always tastes better with time. It can be eaten as soon as it’s done or 2-3 days ahead of time.
How to Store: Place covered in the refrigerator for up to 6 days. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating.
How to Reheat: Add the desired amount to a small saucepot and cook over low heat until hot. You can also reheat in the microwave until hot. The barley will absorb more liquid when storing so you will need to add more liquid to help thin it out when reheating.
Washing the barley is optional, I prefer not to.
If the beef stock is not available you can use chicken stock or even water.
You do not have to use fresh herbs at the end, however, if using dry herbs, add them in when you add in the beef stock.
More Soup Recipes
Traditional Beef and Barley Soup Recipe
- 8 ounces roughly chopped bacon
- 2 pounds cubed beef stew meat
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, optional
- 2 peeled small diced yellow onions
- 3 thinly sliced leeks
- 4 finely minced garlic cloves
- 3 peeled medium diced carrots
- 3 medium diced celery stalks
- 1 peeled medium diced parsnip
- 1 peeled medium diced turnip
- 2 bay leaves
- 12 cups beef stock
- 2 cups pearl barley
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
- 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pot over medium heat, add in the bacon and cook until crisp and brown, about 8-10 minutes.
- Remove the bacon lardons and set aside and add the cubed beef into the pot and turn the heat up slightly to medium-high and cook until the beef is browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Take the beef out and set it to the side.
- If there is not enough rendered bacon or meat fat in the pot then add in the optional olive oil and over low heat caramelize the onions and leeks for 30-35 minutes or until they are well browned. Stir occasionally.
- Add in the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes before adding back in the beef, bacon, carrots, celery, parsnips, turnips, bay leaves, and beef stock and cook over low to medium heat for 60 minutes or until the vegetables and beef are tender.
- Pour in the barley, give it a stir, and cook for 30-35 minutes over low to medium heat for 30-35 minutes or until the barley is cooked.
- Finish with herbs, salt, and pepper, and serve.
- How to Store: Place covered in the refrigerator for up to 6 days. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating.
- How to Reheat: Add the desired amount to a small saucepot and cook over low heat until hot. You can also reheat in the microwave until hot. The barley will absorb more liquid when storing so you will need to add more liquid to help thin it out when reheating.
- Washing the barley is optional, I prefer not to.
- If the beef stock is not available you can use chicken stock or even water.
- You do not have to use fresh herbs at the end, however, if using dry herbs, add them in when you add in the beef stock.