Beef Barley Soup

Yes, I am in soup mode! Delicious and nutritious soup for the middle of winter! Last week’s post “Roasted Vegetable Chicken Soup with Kale” is heartwarming and nourishing to the max and is what I would consider a light brothy soup. This week we are going to bump up the comfort level with a more “stick to your ribs” beef barley soup! However, please do not equate comfort with unhealthy because I’m sure many will agree, this recipe is good for your health!

I prepare this soup the “Italian way” so to speak. It’s going to be the nicest, brightest, most elegant, and most flavorful version of beef barley you have ever had. The natural ingredients we select are going to be of the highest quality. The ingredients will stand on their own without the inclusion of powdered bouillon, store-bought beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, and whatever else I see people doping up their beef barley soup with.

Believe it or not, barley actually has a flavor, and we want to taste it. The beef we will be using also has a flavor and we want to taste that too! Although it may seem obvious, a general rule of thumb I use is whatever the dish is called, that is primarily what I want to taste. Everything else is simply a gentle enhancement to make the beef and barley taste spectacular. Inoculating this soup with all that other stuff just doesn’t do it for me. 

We will enhance the broth of this soup with a quick simple stock that could be started first and then can simmer off to the side while we are preparing the rest of the soup. There is no need for an intense reduction of the stock either. This soup will have a fresh bright taste. 

Also, keep in mind, beef barley soup can be tricky because a little barley goes a long way. I like the 1 part barley 10-12 parts liquid ratio for this soup give or take. We want to avoid it turning into a thick porridge. 

So let’s begin . . .

For the quick beef stock

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

In a mixing bowl, toss your beef bones and veggies with just a little bit of olive oil 

Arrange your bones and veggies in a single layer on a shallow roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes. 

After 30 minutes, pour 3 cups of water into the roasting pan and let roast for another 10 minutes. 

After 10 minutes, remove your bones and veggies from the oven and add them to a small to medium-size saucepan or stockpot. Drain any liquid on the bottom of the pan into the pot with the bones and veggies. Now fill the pot with water so it just covers the bones and veggies. Add a bay leaf, salt, and pepper, and let simmer while you are preparing the rest of the soup. 

For the soup

While your stock is simmering. Prepare the barley. I like to get started with the barley because everything else can be done while we are waiting for the barley to finish. 

In a medium to large stockpot add the barley, water, and salt. Turn the flame on high until you get the pot simmering. Lower the flame and stir the barley occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom. The barley will take about 25 to 30 minutes to cook.

While the barley is simmering (along with your quick stock in a separate pot), heat up a large saute pan with just a little bit of olive oil. When the oil is hot and starts to shimmer, brown your diced beef. Once browned, remove the beef from the pan and reserve it in a covered container. We are not looking to cook the beef all the way. Just a little browning action. Now add your diced carrots, celery, onion, and smashed garlic cloves into the same pan with the beef juices. We are just looking to do a short sautee here for a few minutes until the veggies are partially cooked. 

At this point kick up the heat, and then add the white wine. Deglaze the pan by sliding a spatula around the bottom to lift any flavorful particles stuck to the pan.  Once the potent wine smell starts to dissipate turn off the heat and add your beef back to the sautee pan with the veggies, cover, and put aside.

Once your barley is about about 90 percent cooked add the entire contents of the sautee pan (beef, veggies, liquid) to the water and barley along with your diced fresh tomato, fresh thyme, and a bay leaf. Now add about 2 to 3 cups of your simmering stock by pouring it through a strainer first.  

Let the soup simmer for another 15 minutes or so.

If the soup is too thin you can cook for a little longer and/or remove liquid by skimming off the top.

If the soup appears too thick you can add more beef stock. This soup will naturally thicken over time.

Taste and season with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. 

Garnish with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, paprika, fresh parsley and serve. 

I hope you enjoyed this post. Thank you for visiting my blog!



Ingredient Breakdown

Serves 8

For the quick beef stock

1 ½ pound of beef soup bones with marrow

1 carrot cut into thirds

½ onion cut into thirds

2 stalks of celery cut into thirds

2 teaspoons of extra medium-bodied olive oil

1 bay leaf

Kosher salt to taste

Fresh cracked pepper to taste

For the soup

2 cups of pearl barley

8 cups of water

2 teaspoons of medium-bodied olive oil

1 ½ pound of beef (chuck) large dice

½ carrots diced

1 celery stalk diced

½ onion diced

2 garlic cloves, smashed

½ cup of dry white wine

2 fresh plum tomatoes small dice

5 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

2 cups of homemade quick beef stock through a fine strainer

For Garnish

Fresh parsley coarsely chopped


Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Published by mruglio

I'm a third-generation Italian American cook that is passionate about Italian food and all that surrounds it.

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