An easy recipe for Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup. A little more prep on the front end means maximum flavor at the end, and you’ll still get plenty of convenience from your slow cooker!

There is something magical about slow cookers, and it’s not in the convenience.

I mean, there is convenience: It’s darn convenient that you can brown some meat, sauté some vegetables, and mix them together with barley and broth and it’s magically transformed into soup when you get home from work.

But how about that magical transformation?

The delicious flavors that evolve from cooking beef low and slow are worth celebrating all on their own.

Beef barley soup in a white bowl.

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How do you make beef barley soup?

When I put a slow cooker to work, I like to make sure I’m adding as much flavor as I can every step of the way.

I like to cut my beef into cubes and brown them in a skillet in small batches. You don’t need to cook the meat all the way through.

  • Small pieces – more surface area for browning
  • Small batches – less chance of steaming the meat

I use the rendered fat and pan drippings to sauté the vegetables before they go in the slow cooker, too. Fat = flavor.

Combine with the remaining ingredients (broth, spices, barley) in a slow cooker. Or, simmer on the stove top until the barley is tender (25 minutes for pearl barley, 40 minutes for hulled barley).

Beef being cooked in a skillet and vegetables being cooked in a skillet.

 

Can barley be cooked in a slow cooker?

Yes, absolutely. Barley holds up really well in a slow cooker so you don’t even have to wait to add it.

Barley is done when it has tripled in size and is soft and chewy in texture.

How do I add barley to soup?

Barley takes 25 to 40 minutes to cook, so you can generally add it right away with broth and seasonings while making soup.

Beef barley soup in a white bowl.

 

How to make Beef Barley Soup on the Stove

Start with a dutch over or large stock pot. After you’ve browned the meat and softened the vegetables (separately), add back the meat and the remaining ingredients. Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the beef has softened and the barley is tender.

This hearty soup is filling enough to serve on its own. But, if you love to dunk, add slices of crusty bread or biscuits warm from the oven. It’s an easy, delicious meal!

Beef barley soup in a white bowl.

Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup

An easy recipe for Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup. A little more prep on the front end means maximum flavor at the end, and you'll still get plenty of convenience from your slow cooker!
5 from 23 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs 20 mins
Total Time 4 hrs 40 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Calories 190

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound boneless beef chuck or stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 carrots peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 celery rib sliced (about ½ cup)
  • 8 ounces mushrooms sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme or ½ tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup pearled barley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions 

  • Pat beef dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat in the oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Add the beef and let cook, without stirring, until brown on one side, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir beef and continue cooking until brown all over, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer beef to the slow cooker, leaving the drippings in the saucepan.
  • Add onion, carrots, celery, and mushrooms to the saucepan and sauté until the vegetables have softened and the mushrooms have released most of their liquid, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add to the slow cooker.
  • Add beef broth, chicken broth, water, barley, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW for 7 to 8 hours. Remove bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recipe Video

Nutrition

Calories: 190kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 14gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 502mgPotassium: 474mgFiber: 3gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 2565IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 35mgIron: 2mg
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Meggan Hill

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Comments

    1. Hi Diane, I don’t see why not. Quick barley has been pre-steamed so it just takes less time to cook. I haven’t tried it that way, but a reader said they would be putting it in at the last hour of cooking. I would love to hear how it worked for you! – Meggan

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