Beef Barley Soup {Instant Pot or Stovetop}

éBeef Barley Soup (Instant Pot or stovetop) is a fantastic make-ahead or freezer soup, which makes it perfect for meal prep sessions. Plus, it’s comforting and so tasty!
Two light gray bowl, each filled with beef barley soup, on a metal tray.

Two light gray bowl, each filled with beef barley soup, on a metal tray.

Beef barley soup (Instant Pot and stovetop instructions included) is a classic for a reason. Comforting, richly flavored and easy to make. It ranks right up there with our favorite Chicken and Rice Soup!

This soup freezes well, making it ideal for meal prepping. There’s nothing better than knowing that a few containers of soup are tucked away in the freezer for easy dinners!

Serve it up with a spinach salad dressed with my Homemade Balsamic Vinaigrette or a side of Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad.

Sauteing chunks of beef in an Instant Pot pressure cooker.

Sauteing chunks of beef in an Instant Pot pressure cooker.

What you need for this Beef Barley Soup (Instant Pot or Stovetop)

These are the main components of this recipe (affiliate links included):

  • Beef: Traditionally, beef barley soup is made with chuck roast, which is what you’re getting when you buy the ubiquitously named “beef stew meat”. That meat tends to be quite marbled (in other words, more fat). While that fat can certainly add flavor, it’s also higher in saturated fat. Instead, I opted for flank steak, which is a leaner cut, but still holds up well in this soup. Either will do!
  • Barley: I used pearl barley, which is available in any grocery store. However, if your grocery store is like mine, it’s always a bit of a mystery as to where the pearl barley is found. Sometimes it’s by the rice and quinoa (which makes the most sense to me), but more often I find it in the cereal aisle with the rest of the Bob’s Red Mill products, or even in the baking aisle. Save yourself some time and ask a staff member. 😊
  • Broth: I find that beef broth works best in this recipe, but chicken broth can be used in a pinch.
  • Vegetables: Onions, celery, carrots and garlic form the base of this soup, and a good scoop of frozen peas finishes it off. No need to defrost the peas. They’ll heat up in the hot soup in no time.
  • Tomato paste: If you buy a can of tomato paste, use a couple of tablespoons, then freeze the leftovers in one tablespoon portions to use another time. Since I often forget to do this before the tomato paste spoils, I prefer to buy tubes of tomato paste. Just squeeze out what you need.
  • Seasoning: Thyme, garlic, salt, pepper and some minced parsley are all you need. Be sure to taste the soup before serving and adjust the seasonings (specifically, salt and pepper) if needed.

Pouring dry barley into an Instant Pot filled with broth, beef and vegetables.

Pouring dry barley into an Instant Pot filled with broth, beef and vegetables.

How to make Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup

Start by browning the beef in a couple of batches, using the Sauté mode on the Instant Pot. You want to do this in batches so that the beef browns rather than steams. Overcrowding produces steam every time!

Next, sauté the veggies, then stir in the broth and water.

Now here’s the REALLY IMPORTANT PART! Use a wooden spatula (affiliate link) or wooden spoon to scrape up any cooked bits that are stuck to the bottom of the Instant Pot. This is called deglazing the pan. And this will help you avoid that dreaded Instant Pot “Burn” message.

Add the beef and barley, and pressure cook on HIGH. Use natural release for 10 minutes, then quick release. Stir in the peas and parsley, and serve it up!

How to make it on the stovetop:

Similar to the Instant Pot method, start by browning the beef in two batches. Next, sauté the veggies and tomato paste, then add the broth, water and barley. I use the 6-quart Instant Pot (affliate link), but the 8-quart is a great option, too.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat so that the soup is simmering. Cook until the barley and beef are tender, which takes 45 to 60 minutes. Stir in the peas and parsley at the end.

Bowl of beef barley with an Instant Pot pressure cooker in the background.

Bowl of beef barley with an Instant Pot pressure cooker in the background.

How to freeze Beef Barley Soup:

Cool the soup completely, then transfer to plastic or glass freezer containers, or freezer resealable (Ziploc) bags.

If using resealable bags, lay them flat on a baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen, they can be store either flat or upright.

Defrost the soup in the refrigerator, then reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

According to the USDA, when packaged and stored properly, cooked beef products can frozen for 2 to 3 months.

Two bowls of Instant Pot beef barley soup resting on a gray napkin and steel tray.

Two bowls of Instant Pot beef barley soup resting on a gray napkin and steel tray.

Other Instant Pot soup recipes:

Chicken and Rice Soup (Instant Pot) {Cookin’ Canuck}
Instant Pot Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato {Cookin’ Canuck}
Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup {31 Daily}
Split Pea Soup {The Cozy Cook}

Two light gray bowl, each filled with beef barley soup, on a metal tray.Two light gray bowl, each filled with beef barley soup, on a metal tray.

Beef Barley Soup {Instant Pot or Stovetop}

Beef Barley Soup (Instant Pot or stovetop) is a fantastic make-ahead or freezer soup, which makes it perfect for meal prep sessions. Plus, it’s comforting and so tasty!

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Course: Soups

Cuisine: American

Keyword: Beef Barley Soup, Instant Pot Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 32 minutes

Building Pressure/Release Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Servings: 6 Servings

Calories: 293.8kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pound flank steak trimmed, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion chopped
  • 3 large carrots cut into half-circles
  • 2 large celery stalks chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup water (2 cups for stovetop method)
  • 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

For the Instant Pot:

  • Season the chopped beef with salt and pepper. Let rest while chopping the vegetables.

  • Set the Instant Pot to the SAUTÉ mode and allow it to get hot. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil, then half of the beef. Sauté until the beef is browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with an additional 1 teaspoon olive oil and the remaining beef.

  • If there is any liquid at the bottom of the Instant Pot, carefully wipe it out with a paper towel (careful, the IP will still be hot!).

  • Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil, then add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.

  • Add the garlic and thyme. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Turn off the Instant Pot.

  • Pour in the beef broth and water. With a wooden spatula or spoon, scrape the bottom of the Instant Pot to release any cooked bits (in other words, deglaze the pot). This will help to avoid the dreaded burn message.

  • Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, barley, browned beef and any accumulated juices from the beef bowl.

  • Set the Instant Pot to Manual/Pressure Cook on HIGH pressure and set the cook time for 20 minutes. Be sure the steam release valve is closed.

  • Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then carefully open the steam release valve to release the pressure the rest of the way. Carefully remove the lid.

  • Stir in the peas. The hot liquid will defrost them in a couple of minutes.

  • Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Stir in the parsley. Serve.

For the stovetop:

  • Season the chopped beef with salt and pepper. Let rest while chopping the vegetables.

  • Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add half of the beef. Cook until browned, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the beef to a bowl. Repeat with an additional 1 teaspoon olive oil and the remaining beef.

  • If there is any liquid at the bottom of the saucepan, carefully wipe it out with a paper towel (careful, the saucepan will still be hot!).

  • Reduce the heat to medium. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil, then add the onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.

  • Add the garlic and thyme. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds.

  • Pour in the beef broth and water. With a wooden spatula or spoon, scrape the bottom of the saucepan to release any cooked bits (in other words, deglaze the pot).

  • Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, barley, browned beef and any accumulated juices from the beef bowl.

Notes

Weight Watchers Points: 6 (Blue – Freestyle SP) / 6 (Green) / 3 (Purple)

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 293.8kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 8.4g | Saturated Fat: 2.8g | Cholesterol: 37.8mg | Sodium: 676.2mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 5.6g


Tried this recipe?If you make this recipe, I’d love to see it on Instagram! Just use the hashtag #COOKINCANUCK and I’ll be sure to find it.

Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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