Slow-Cooker Beef Barley Soup

Total Time

Prep: 20 min. Cook: 8-1/2 hours

Makes

8 servings (2 quarts)

Updated: Aug. 25, 2023
Here's a stick-to-your-ribs type of slow-cooker beef and barley soup. I've also used a chuck roast, rump roast and London broil that's cut into bite-sized pieces with tremendous success.—Jane McMillan, Dania Beach, Florida
Slow-Cooker Beef Barley Soup Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 carton (32 ounces) beef broth
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer or nonalcoholic beer
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup medium pearl barley
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, brown beef in oil; drain. Transfer to a 3-qt. slow cooker.
  2. Add the broth, beer, onion, barley, garlic, oregano, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, pepper flakes, pepper, salt and bay leaf. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours.
  3. Stir in vegetables; cover and cook until meat is tender and vegetables are heated through, about 30 minutes longer. Discard bay leaf.

Can you freeze slow-cooker beef barley soup?

Freeze cooled soup in freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a saucepan, stirring occasionally; add broth or water if necessary.

Slow-Cooker Beef Barley Soup Tips

What other cuts of beef can you use to make slow-cooker beef barley soup?

When it comes to making soups and stews in the slow-cooker, cheaper is actually better! If you use a beef cut that's too tender (such as ribeye, tenderloins and sirloins) the prolonged cooking will turn it chewy and tough. When making this recipe, stick to round steak or chuck steak, which typically tend to make up the beef stew meat you buy from the butcher anyway. Check out our guide to different cuts of meat and when to use them to learn more.

How else can you cook slow-cooker beef and barley soup?

If you’d like to enjoy this soup sooner, make it on the stovetop. Prepare as directed until you would add it to the slow cooker, and instead, cover and simmer for 1 hour, checking the water level and adding more if needed. Then add the vegetables and cook until heated through. Discard the bay leaf and enjoy.

How do you thicken slow-cooker beef and barley soup?

If you like your slow-cooker beef and barley soup a little thicker, add a cornstarch slurry to the mix (one of our favorite thickeners). To make a slurry, mix cornstarch with equal parts water (we recommend 1 tablespoon cornstarch for every cup of liquid in the recipe). Add the slurry to the pot and whisk continuously over high heat until well incorporated, and the sauce starts to thicken.

What can you do if the barley is too soft?

Barley is a hearty and nutty grain that adds flavor and nutrition to any dish. It can, however, take a while to reach the perfect tenderness. If you’re worried about the barley getting mushy, try cooking it on the side or substituting quick barley, which cooks in a fraction of the time.

How should you store leftover slow-cooker beef barley soup?

Store leftover slow-cooker beef barley soup in airtight containers for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

What's the best way to reheat slow-cooker beef barley soup?

Reheat slow-cooker beef barley soup in the microwave or on the stovetop—whichever is easiest for you! Once leftovers are gone, make more of our favorite slow-cooker beef recipes.

Maggie Knoebel, Taste of Home Associate Recipe Editor/Tester and Sammi DiVito, Taste of Home Assistant Editor

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 233 calories, 8g fat (2g saturated fat), 53mg cholesterol, 644mg sodium, 18g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 4g fiber), 20g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 1 starch.