This hearty Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup is loaded with tender cubed beef, diced vegetables, and a luxurious broth that you will be eagerly sopping up with your favorite bread!
Slow cooker recipes like this Beef and Barley Soup have been my savior the past few weeks as I pretend to know how to remodel our new home. This recipe is perfect for simmering away on your countertop all afternoon while you are distracted by more important activities.
How to Make Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup
This Beef and Barley Soup is a really flexible recipe. It can be ready in about 5 hours if cooked on high or let it simmer for 8-10 hours on low. Quite honestly, you could cook it longer too if needed, the worst that will happen is the beef will become fall-apart tender.
I make my Beef and Barley Soup without tomatoes, but instead, I add tomato paste to add richness to the broth. You can certainly add stewed or diced tomatoes if you wish. Some people even make this soup with mushrooms or potatoes.
If you aren't the slow cooker type, this Beef and Barley Soup can be made on the stovetop as well. I would use a Dutch Oven to brown the chuck roast, remove it from the pot, then saute the vegetables and add everything back into the pot. Like the slow cooker recipe, I would hold off adding the barley until the final hour of cooking. Making Beef and Barley Soup in the slow cooker is easier, but following the directions I listed for the stovetop will develop additional flavor. The choice is yours!
Though it is called a soup, its beefiness makes it eat more like a stew. The best beef to use in this soup is chuck roast. Chuck roast is not only fairly inexpensive to purchase, but the long cooking time transforms this particularly tough cut into melt-in-your-mouth tender morsels, while the fat renders out to create an exceptionally luxurious sauce!
If you need a substitute for your chuck roast, look for generically labeled "stew meat" at the store. Otherwise, brisket or any other tough beef cut will suffice. Leaner cuts such as a round roast will work too, but the minimal fat they provide will result in slightly less flavor in your soup.
For me, crockpot recipes are supposed to be simple affairs. However, if you want to squeeze every last ounce of flavor out of this meal, you can brown the meat prior to adding it to the slow cooker. As I explained in my tutorial to brown ground beef properly, the process which turns the meat brown is also adding flavor.
Can this be made on the stovetop?
Although this is a slow cooker recipe, it can easily be converted to make in a pot on the stovetop. I recommend using a large pot, and browning the meat, then removing it from the pot while you saute the onions, carrots, and garlic. At this point, all of the ingredients can be added to the pot and simmered until the beef is tender. This should take less than two hours.
Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup
- 2 lbs Chuck roast (cut into 1" cubes)
- ¾ cup Barley
- 8 cups Beef broth
- 3 Carrots (diced)
- 1 Onion (diced)
- 2 Celery (diced)
- 4 cloves Garlic (minced)
- 3 tablespoons Tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worchestershire Sauce
- 2 sprigs Thyme
- 2 Bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon Black pepper
- salt to taste
- Add all ingredients to 6 quart slow cooker, except barley.
- Let cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours, then add barley and cook for 1 hour longer. Individual slow cooker times can vary, it is best to add barley as beef is becoming tender.
- Taste for salt and adjust as needed.
- Ladle soup into bowls and serve with buns for dipping, if desired.
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