Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup
Easy slow cooker beef barley soup recipe, homemade with simple ingredients. Loaded with vegetables, pearl barley, broth, wine, Italian herbs.
Cold weather calls for warm soup, and this one is one of the heartiest, most comforting soups around, just like my Slow Cooker Chicken Barley Soup. Tender meat, lots of veggies, and full of flavor. It provides all the warmth that’s needed in this chilly weather.
How To Make Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup From Scratch?
- Add ingredients in slow cooker- This includes meat, carrots, onions, potatoes, celery, garlic, ginger, broth, wine, tomato paste, tomato sauce, mustard, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, bay leaf, barley.
- Mix- Until combined.
- Cover and cook– On high heat.
- Mix in vegetables– Cover and cook again.
- Enjoy- Garnish with parsley and dig in!
What Sides To Serve With Vegetable Beef And Barley Soup?
This soup is truly a meal on its own and nothing in necessary to be served alongside it.
However, the most classic pairing for any soup is bread. It’s perfect for dipping and absorbing all the broth. The best choices are ciabatta bread, breadsticks, garlic bread, dinner rolls or homemade buttermilk biscuits.
Sandwiches are always a great side, especially when you have a heavy broth-based soup like this one. Something light like a cucumber sandwich, tomato sandwich would be great. Plain buttered toast is not a bad idea either.
Salads really complete this meal such as a simple chopped green salad without any over-powering vinaigrettes or dressings.
Vegetables are always a healthy side dish. Try roasted or sauteed vegetables.
Variations for Old Fashioned Classic Beef Barley Stew
Try other meats– Such as ground beef, chicken, ground turkey, or sausage.
Make it Cajun– Add spices like paprika, oregano, cayenne, garlic, pepper or use store-bought Cajun seasoning.
Make it Indian– Add garam masala, curry powder and turmeric and garnish with cilantro.
Add other vegetables- You can use fresh or frozen vegetables in this recipe. Remember to add fresh vegetables at the beginning of cooking, and frozen towards the end. The fresh veggies take longer to cook and soften than the frozen ones. Try adding diced green peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, or squash.
Add roasted vegetables– Add them when you would add the frozen veggies to add another layer of flavor to this soup.
Beef barley mushroom soup– Add sliced mushrooms in the final 20 minutes. I don’t recommended cream of mushroom soup because it alters the flavor.
Add a different grain- Barley is similar in size and texture to brown rice so this makes a great alternative. You could also use a small pasta like ditalini, shells, or macaroni noodles.
Make it spicy- Add red chili flakes or cayenne for more heat.
Give it an Asian spin – Use 1 cup of coconut milk, chili paste, garlic, kale, red bell peppers.
Make it Mexican- Add black beans, fire roasted jalapenos, and top with fresh avocado and shredded cheddar cheese.
Tips And Techniques for easy homemade beef barley soup
How to thicken soup? You can allow the soup to sit and let the barley absorb some of the liquid. Another option is to leave the lid of your crockpot open for the last 30 minutes to allow the steam to escape and the liquid to evaporate. You can also whisk together 2 tablespoons of flour or cornstarch with some water until it is smooth, and add it to the soup to thicken it. Yet another option is pureeing some of the potatoes and adding them back into the soup. Every option will affect the flavor and texture differently.
How to make soup thinner? Simply add more broth or water to thin it out.
What meat to use? The most affordable and easy meat to use is cubed chuck roast, stew meat, or even flank steak. You could also use leftover pot roast, steak, or roast beef.
Adjust amount of veggies and Italian seasoning– This is based on your preference.
Use low sodium broth– Because this prevents the meal from becoming too salty.
Do you cook barley before adding to soup? You do not need to cook the barley before adding it to the soup because it cooks for 6 hours giving it enough time to soften.
Should barley be soaked before cooking? There is no need to soak the barley before cooking in the crockpot. It cooks long enough that soaking becomes unnecessary.
Can you overcook barley? Yes, if you put soaked barley into the slow cooker it will overcook and disintegrate in the soup. If you put it in uncooked, it will not overcook in the time this recipe allots. If you are very concerned about this, you can always wait to add the soaked barley till the last 30 minutes to ensure it doesn’t overcook.
What is barley? What is it used for? It is a nutty flavored grain cereal and part of the grass family. It is high in fiber and protein, and contains minerals such as magnesium and selenium. It is used in food recipes as well as beverages. There are quite a few varieties, making it very useful in breads, soup, beer, and even as a flour.
What kind of barley do you use for soup? Pearl barley is best.
Should you rinse pearl barley before cooking? Yes, rinse it in order to remove any debris and dust.
Why is my barley slimy? Barley releases a lot of starch when cooked so it can feel slimy.
What is the difference between hulled barley and pearl barley? Hulled barley is the whole grain form of barley. It only has the outer shell of the grain removed. Pearl barley has the outer husk and the bran layers removed making the grain softer. The other big difference is cooking time. It takes hulled barley much longer to cook. Either can be used in most recipes, but the cooking time may need to be adjusted based on which you use. I used pearl barley in today’s recipe.
Refrigerate– In a sealed container for up to 3 days.
Freeze– In a freezer safe container for up to 1 month. If you can, omit the potatoes because they do not freeze well.
Reheat– From thawed, on the stove or in the microwave. You will need to add more broth because the barley absorbs a lot of liquid.
More Slow Cooker Soup Recipes
- Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup
- Slow Cooker Meatball Soup
- Slow Cooker Brown Lentil Soup
- Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup
Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup
- 1.5 pounds Cooked stew meat cubes or chuck roast cubes, Can use leftovers from a previous meal
- 3-4 Carrots , Medium size, Peeled, Diced
- 1.5 cups Onion , Finely chopped
- 3-4 Potatoes , Medium size, Peeled, Cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 stalks Celery , Diced
- 4 cloves Garlic , Minced
- 1 tsp Ginger, Finely chopped
- 6 cups Beef broth , Low sodium
- 1 cup Red wine, Optional, Or replace with beef broth
- 2 tbsp Tomato paste
- 1/3 cup Tomato sauce, Or crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1-2 tbsp Italian seasoning
- Salt , To taste
- Pepper, To taste
- 1 Bay leaf
- 3/4 Pearl barley
- 3/4 cup Frozen vegetables , Use a blend of your favorite veggies
- 1-2 tbsp Parsley , Fresh, Finely chopped, For garnish
- In a slow cooker, add cooked meat.If you don't have cooked meat, heat 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp oil in a nonstick pan and saute beef over medium-high heat until golden brown. Then, add this into a crockpot.
- Add carrots, onion, potatoes, celery, garlic, ginger, broth, wine, tomato paste, tomato sauce, mustard, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, bay leaf, barley. Mix until combined.
- Cover and cook on High heat for 4 hours.
- Then, mix in frozen vegetables.
- Cover and cook on Low heat for 2 hours.
- Garnish with finely chopped fresh parsley. Enjoy!
- Read all my tips above.
- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days. The soup will get thicker because the barley will continue to absorb the broth. Mix in more broth or water, when heating, to make it thinner again.