I am not going to lie I was a bit (really) nervous when I decided to try this soup with my family. My husband will not eat a lot of basic foods like rice so the thought of trying to get him to eat barley had me expecting to have to make another meal for him. I was pleasantly surprised when I placed the bowl in front of my husband and he willingly ate it. Most of the kids liked the soup and overall it was worth the risk. I am storing the leftovers in single servings for later.
It’s chilly out today here the past few days so I have been diving into soups in the slow cooker to feed the family.
As the cool fall air approaches many of us are turning to soups and stews to help warm our family on cool nights without having to kick the heat on just yet. This beef and barley soup is great for just that. Take a bug out to sit by a nice warm bonfire and relax after a long hard day.
What you need for beef and barley soup
:: 1.5 to 2 pounds chuck roast, cut into bite-sized pieces
:: 1 large onion, diced
:: 4 cloves garlic, minced
:: 3 stalks celery, chopped
:: 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
:: 6 cups beef broth
:: 2 tablespoons olive oil
:: 2 beef bouillon cubes
:: 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
:: 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
:: 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
:: 1 tablespoon soy sauce
:: 2 tablespoons tomato paste
:: 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to spice preference)
:: 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
:: 1 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning
:: 1 cup pearled barley
How to make beef and barley soup in the slow cooker
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the pieces of chuck roast on all sides to develop flavor. You may need to do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Once browned, transfer the beef to your slow cooker.
In the same skillet, sauté the diced onion for a few minutes until they begin to soften and develop some color. Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker with the beef.
Add beef broth, beef bouillon cubes, black pepper, salt, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, and Montreal steak seasoning to the slow cooker. Stir everything together to combine.
Cover the slow cooker and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours. The beef should become tender, and the flavors will meld together.
About 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the pearl barley to the slow cooker. Stir it into the soup, cover, and continue cooking until the barley is tender.
Once the barley is cooked, taste the soup and adjust seasoning if necessary. You can add more salt, pepper, or any other seasoning to suit your taste.
Serve the delicious slow cooker beef and barley soup hot, garnished with some chopped fresh parsley or thyme if desired. It pairs well with crusty bread or a simple green salad.
Note: If you prefer a thicker soup, you can mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with some water and stir it into the soup during the last 30 minutes of cooking. This will help thicken the broth.
What to serve with beef and barley soup
Cheesy Croutons: Make homemade croutons by toasting cubes of bread with melted cheese on top. Sprinkle them over the soup just before serving.
Roasted Vegetables: Roast some seasonal vegetables like carrots, parsnips, or Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Serve them alongside the soup for added depth and texture.
Pesto Drizzle: Add a dollop of pesto on top of the soup to infuse it with the rich flavors of basil, garlic, and nuts.
Crispy Bacon Bits: Crisp up some bacon and sprinkle it over the soup for a smoky and savory twist.
Caramelized Onions: Top the soup with caramelized onions for a touch of sweetness that complements the beefy flavors.
Herbed Sour Cream: Mix chopped herbs like chives, dill, or thyme into sour cream and serve a dollop on top of the soup.
Sautéed Mushrooms: Cook some mushrooms with butter and garlic until they’re tender and add them to the soup for a savory umami boost.
Parmesan Crisps: Make parmesan crisps by baking grated parmesan cheese until it’s golden and crunchy. Place a crisp on each bowl of soup as a delightful garnish.
Crusty Bread: Serve with warm, crusty bread or garlic bread for dipping and soaking up the flavorful broth.
Salad: A fresh green salad with a tangy vinaigrette can provide a refreshing contrast to the hearty soup.
Crackers: Offer an assortment of crackers, such as saltines, whole wheat, or cheese-flavored, for an additional crunch.
Creative ways to make take this soup up a notch
Add in potatoes or turnips: To make this soup even more hearty for cold winter nights you can add in diced potatoes or turnips to make it more filling while keeping the savory flavor profile.
Add mushrooms: One way that you can take the flavor up a notch is to add some mushrooms to the soup while it is cooking. This will give it an earthy note.
Remember, the key to elevating the beef and barley soup is to introduce contrasting flavors, textures, and colors that will enhance the overall dining experience. Enjoy experimenting and finding the perfect accompaniments for your soup!
Make Ahead Freezer Meal Option
The majority of this recipe can be prepped ahead of time and sealed in a gallon ziplock bag in the freezer for a quick and easy toss in the slow cooker in the morning meal. To do this brown the meat and state the onions before adding everything but the broth and barley to the back. In the morning when you are ready to make this soup toss the bags contents and broth into the slow cooker. About half an hour before serving you can add in the barley and enjoy your quick and easy weeknight dinner.
Saving leftover soup
My favorite way to save leftover soup including the beef and barley soup is to store it in single servings using breastmilk storage bags. These can then be laid out in one of the drawers of our freezer for when someone gets hungry or grabbing for an on-the-go lunch. Go with 8 oz breastmilk storage bags to get a full-cup serving.
If you like this soup you should try making chicken and barley soup by using a basic chicken noodle soup recipe and adding barley in place of the noodles.