Thursday, January 5, 2012

Beef Barley Soup

This is a hearty and healthy soup, and it doesn't take long to prepare. Using ground beef, (which you probably have in your freezer) shortens the cooking time. It could easily be a weeknight meal. A little bit of prep work the night before (Slice up the carrots, and make sure your ground beef is defrosting in the fridge.) will help you get it to the table quickly the next day. Barley is so heart-healthy, and it lowers cholesterol. Use a very lean ground beef - the soup is flavorful enough without any extra fat. I created this recipe years ago, and my son still asks for it regularly. I hope you enjoy it....

Here's what you need:

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered (*or chopped if you plan to leave it in the soup - see note about picky eaters below)
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 can low-sodium V-8 vegetable juice (11.5 oz)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (29 oz.)
  • 1 can water (29 oz. - Use tomato sauce can so you can get out remaining sauce.)
  • 1 carton beef broth (32 oz.)
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (Sorry, forgot to include this in the photo!)
  • 1 tsp. grill seasoning
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh chopped parsley (or 3/4 tsp. dried parsley flakes)
  • 1-1/4 Cups quick-cooking barley
Preheat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. (If you are using very lean ground beef, put a splash of olive oil in the pot.) Put in your ground beef and onion. Sprinkle the grill seasoning over the beef mixture. Break up the ground beef a bit, and let it brown. You don't want to keep pushing it and moving it around the pot, or the beef will be broken down into little bits and turn an ugly pale gray color. You want to break it up a bit, then leave it cook for a while before you stir it around again. Nice browning will give the beef (and soup) more flavor:

If you're using very lean ground beef, there won't be any fat to drain off. Add the remaining ingredients, EXCEPT the barley to the pot. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for about 15 minutes.. Here's a photo of me adding the Worcestershire sauce since I forgot to include it in the ingredients picture!

*Here's the part about the onion and picky eaters as referenced above. My husband liked the flavor that onions gave to a dish, but he hated the texture of them in his food. My daughter, picky eater like her father, is the same way. So whenever I use onion in a dish, I just cut them in big pieces, use them for their flavor, then pull them out and discard them. It's easier to pull them out of a soup if they are in big chunks, which is why I quarter them. So, if onions aren't an issue for your family, by all means leave them in.  Okay, so at this point, I remove the onion chunks.

Turn up the heat again and bring to a boil. Add the quick-cooking barley and stir into the boiling soup broth.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. At this point, I taste the broth and adjust seasonings.... so taste it, and if you think it needs more salt, pepper, or heat (cayenne) - add whatever you prefer. Turn off the heat and let the pot sit, covered, for about 15 minutes longer (it lets the soup thicken a bit more) before serving.

This recipe makes A LOT - approximately 12 cups, so you will have leftovers. Share half with a sick friend or someone who could use a home-cooked meal. It also freezes very well - will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. So you can put some away for a future meal.



  1. Beef Barley soup is one of our family favorites. Just the right thing for a blustery winter night.

  2. Tried it and loved it! Just the right amount of seasoning and great on a cold wintery day! A hearty soup.


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