Tender sirloin and crispy bacon swim in a garlic red wine broth with chewy pearls of barley, sweet carrots, and earthy roasted mushrooms. Beef and barley soup is rich and meaty enough to be called a stew, but ready to eat in just over an hour.
"I made this recipe for dinner guests and it was delicious! Everyone raved about it. The broth was so flavorful and rich - we all cleaned our bowls with bread to get every drop. I used sirloin, doubled the recipe for leftovers, and had no problems in doing so. This recipe will be in my regular rotation!" - Cate
What Kind of Barley is Best for Beef and Barley Soup?
I feel like barley is an overlooked grain that deserves its place in the sun every now and then. Its slightly nutty flavor and chewy pasta-like texture is a deliciously easy way to add some extra nutrition and flavor to what would essentially be a bowl of vegetable beef soup.
Here's the deal with Barley... there are two different varieties and, while both are yummy additions to beef and barley soup, one is quite a bit more nutritious than the other.
The Difference Between Pearl Barley and Hulled Barley
The main difference between the two is that with hulled barley only the inedible outer shell has been removed during processing, with the bran and endosperm layers left intact. This means that hulled barley is considered a whole grain and contains more fiber, minerals, and (I think) more flavor than pearl barley.
Pearl barley has been processed to remove the bran and endosperm layers. It cooks faster, is less chewy, and is easier to find than hulled barley. It's also a bit less nutritious.
What's the Best Cut of Beef to Use in Beef and Barley Soup?
Chuck roast is my usual go-to for roasts and stews because it's one of the most affordable and flavorful cuts of beef. But, chuck roast requires quite a long cooking time to render it tender.
That's why this recipe calls for sirloin, which tends to work better in beef soup that cooks relatively quickly.
I'll be honest though. Mostly, I make beef and barley soup with leftovers. This soup is one of those magical ways to transform the leftovers of two dishes I make often - Slow Cooker Tri-Tip Steak and Slow Cooker Pot Roast - into a whole new, equally delicious, quick meal.
If you're using leftover beef, this soup will come together even faster because there will be no need to brown the meat before cooking. Just chop your leftover beef into small pieces and add it at the very end of cooking.
What to Serve with Beef and Barley Soup
Just in case you're in the mood to really raise the comfort level of this soup, serve it with some homemade bread or flaky buttermilk biscuits.
This is my favorite super simple homemade bread recipe. I've been making loaves of this delicious bread for over 20 years because it's quick (ready in under 3 hours with only about 20 minutes of hands-on time), delicious, and fool proof.
It goes without saying that a slice or two of warm homemade bread with your bowl of beef and barley soup is enough to earn you the title of domestic genius for at least the rest of the month. Probably longer.
The same is true for homemade buttermilk biscuits that are soft on the inside, slightly crispy on the outside, and rise to impressive heights with layer after delicious layer.
More Popular Comfort Food Recipes:
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms (button, shiitake, or Portabella)
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or extra virgin olive oil (divided)
- 1 pound sirloin, cut into ½-inch pieces (*See note)
- 1 pound thick sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 6 cups broth, beef, vegetable or chicken
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ⅔ cup Pearl Barley (*See note)
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 2 celery ribs, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 12 ounces frozen green beans
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Toss the sliced mushrooms with 1 tablespoon of vegetable or extra virgin olive oil. Spread out over the baking sheet and sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven until golden brown, 10-15 minutes.
- Spread the pieces of sirloin out onto a paper towel. Blot the meat with another paper towel to remove excess moisture. Sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottom saucepan or dutch oven until the oil is hot and shimmering. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp. Monitor the heat so that the bacon is browning evenly without burning. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the rendered bacon fat in the pan, and return the saucepan to the stove.
- Add the sirloin to the pan and let cook over medium-high heat on one side until brown. Turn the pieces of meat over and let brown on each side. Do not overcrowd the pan - you want every piece of meat touching the bottom of the pan with a little room around each piece. Brown the meat in batches if necessary. Use a slotted spoon to remove browned sirloin from the pan, laying it on a plate.
- Remove excess fat from the pan so that you're left with about 1 tablespoon and return the pan to medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden brown.
- Add the tomato paste, minced garlic, thyme, red wine, and sugar to a small brown and stir to combine. Add this mixture to the onion and cook stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes. While you stir, scrape up any brown bits clinging to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the broth, soy sauce, barley, bay leaves, and sirloin to the pan. Raise the heat and bring the soup to a boil. Cover, lower the heat to medium-low, and let simmer, occasionally stirring, for 20 minutes.
- Stir in the carrots, celery, and green beans. Cover and let simmer for another 15 minutes, until the vegetables and barley are tender. Stir in the mushrooms, bacon, and chopped parsley. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.
- This soup is one of those magical ways to transform the leftovers of two dishes I make often - Slow Cooker Tri-Tip Steak and Slow Cooker Pot Roast - into a whole new, equally delicious, quick meal. If you're using leftover beef, add it at the very end of cooking.
- Hulled barley can easily be substituted for pearl barley but it will probably affect the cooking time a bit. Read the cooking instructions on the package and adjust accordingly.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 833Total Fat: 47gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 177mgSodium: 2063mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 7gSugar: 12gProtein: 64g