Recipe: Beef & Barley Vegetable Soup

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First, I apologize for the photos. I’m getting better with my food photography, but soup is and always will be a challenge for me. So, look past the ugly photos, and focus on the fact that this soup is hearty and absolutely delicious!

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite lunches was Progresso beef & barley soup. I can’t even begin to count how many cans of that stuff I ate throughout my childhood. I was feeling nostalgic a few weeks ago, and bought a can of it. Unlike other foods from my childhood I’ve recently tried again (like Chef Boyardee spaghetti & meatballs *gag*), it was actually good. But, even though it was good, I hate buying canned soups. Not only for the high amount of sodium and the preservatives, but also because those blue cans are pretty pricey.

So, here is my version. I’m not sure if it’s any cheaper, since the stew meat was $11 for two pounds, but this made a huge, hearty, delicious pot of soup. I made it on a day that I was off from work, and let it simmer all day, and then just added the barley about an hour before we wanted to eat. The meat was so tender & delicious, and the soup was perfect for a cold, wet day.

Beef & Barley Soup


  • 2 lbs. of stew meat
  • 1 onion; diced
  • 4 carrots; peeled & chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery; chopped
  • 1 can of petite diced tomatoes; drained REALLY well
  • 1 can of green beans; drained
  • 6-8 cups of beef broth
  • 1 beef bouillon cube, or teaspoon of beef base
  • 3/4 cup of barley
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Olive oil


  1. Heat a dutch oven (or a heavy bottomed soup pot) over medium heat. Add about 1 T. of olive oil to heat.
  2. Generously season the meat with salt & pepper, and add to the dutch oven to brown in three batches. Move to a plate, add another tablespoon of oil and add the veggies to the pot. Let saute until the carrots are tender, about 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add 6 cups of beef broth to the pot, the bouillon cube or the beef base, the tomatoes & green beans and then add the beef back in.
  4. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer for at least an hour, but the longer the better.
  5. Bring the soup back up to a boil. When boiling, add the barley in, reduce the heat to low again and cover. Let simmer for an additional 45 minutes to an hour.
  6. The barley will soak up a lot of the liquid. We had leftovers the next night, and I added more broth to thin it out a little bit.

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