Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup

I love my Instant Pot for recipes like this beef barley soup.

I don’t cook with it all the time because I find cooking over the stove therapeutic, but when I’m in a bit of a hurry, it’s nice to know my pressure cooker can cook up a soup in no-time. Especially when there are ingredients involved that take awhile to cook, such as barley.

And because barley takes almost an hour to cook, and I usually want soup, like, NOW, I want to have this recipe in my back pocket that can cook in just 15 minutes. Yes, 15 minutes!

And cooking in the pressure cooker creates so much flavor – this soup tastes like it’s been simmering for hours. 

Beef barley soup in a white bowl

How to make beef barley soup in the Instant Pot

  • Pat the meat dry. Use paper towel to pat the meat dry before adding it to the Instant Pot in order to get a nice brown sear on the meat.
  • Sear the meat. One of the wonderful things about the Instant Pot is the saute setting. This means you can brown/sear the meat in a bit of oil right in the Instant Pot before pressure or slow cooking, saving on dishes (score!). So go ahead and saute the beef cubes for a few minutes per side, until they’re browned and crispy. This provides greater depth of flavor and texture than not searing/browning the meat first.
  • Saute the vegetables. Remove the meat and saute the vegetables. We’re talking onion, carrot and celery – a concotion of veggies otherwise known as mirepoix. It’s a classic mix for soups, and is even more of a classic for beef barley soup. Sure, you could just go ahead and toss the raw veggies into the pot with the rest of the ingredients and pressure cook it, but sauteing them first adds more flavor – just like the beef. So I highly recommend NOT skipping this step!
  • Add the seasoning. In this soup, we’re using garlic, thyme, celery salt, mustard powder, salt and black pepper. It’s such a fabulous combination for an earthy, hearty soup.
  • Add the stock and barley. When making soup, I always use stock or broth. Stock is a bit more rich, but broth works just fine. Water also works, but it’s not going to add any depth or flavor to your soup.
  • Add bouillon. This step is optional, but bouillon is an actual superpower in the kitchen, so I like to keep a natural variety on hand so I can add a scoop to my soups. It is PACKED with flavor and just really takes soup to the next level.
  • Pressure cook. Add a few bay leaves, then place the lid on and cook on manual high pressure for 15 minutes (with the toggle sealed). Once the timer goes off, do a quick release on venting. I use a wooden spoon for this step so I don’t burn myself with the Instant Pot steam!
  • Eat! Now that your soup is done – easy peasy, right? – give it a taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Don’t ever skip this step when cooking!

What if you don’t have an Instant Pot?

If you have a bit more time or plan ahead, you can make this recipe on the stove-top or in the slow cooker. It takes about an hour and a half total to make it on the stove, and up to 6 or 8 hours in the slow cooker.

The cut of beef used in beef barley soup needs to be braised or slow cooked in order to make it melt-in-your-mouth tender.

How to make beef barley soup on the stove or in the crock pot

Stove-Top Instructions: Heat oil in a Dutch oven to medium heat. Add beef and saute until browned on all sides. Add vegetables and saute an additional 4-5 minutes. Stir in garlic, seasonings and barley. Add stock, bouillon and bay leaf and bring to a simmer, cooking 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until barley is cooked. Discard bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Slow Cooker Instructions: Heat oil in a Dutch oven to medium heat. Add beef and saute until browned on all sides. Transfer to a slow cooker and add the remaining soup ingredients. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Beef barley soup in a white bowl

What cut of beef to use for the beef barley soup

Chuck Roast. I suggest using beef chuck roast for this recipe because it will become super tender and flavorful when slow cooked. Be sure to trim the fat from the roast, then cut it into cubes. It’s easy to do this if the roast is cold, so stick it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes before cutting and use a very sharp boning knife, if you have one.

Stew Meat. You can also use pre-cut stew meat. This saves you the step of trimming and cubing the meat and will yield the same delicious results.

What other vegetables can I add to this soup?

Mushrooms. I am personally not a fan of mushrooms, but beef barley soup often calls for sliced mushrooms. Simply add them in near the end of sauteing the carrots and celery, then carry on with the recipe.

Peas. You can also add peas to this recipe. A cup of frozen spring peas can go in after the soup is done cooking. Stir them in right after releasing the steam and removing the lid. It’s that easy!

Leeks. A vegetable with a unique oniony, earthy flavor would pair nicely with beef and the other vegetables in this soup. Slice them and saute them with the other vegetables.

How to store this beef barley soup

Refrigerator. This soup can be store in airtight containers up to 7 days in the refrigerator. Reheat in microwave-safe containers or in a saucepan on the stove until heated through.

Freezer. This soup can be stored in airtight containers in the freezer for 6-12 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in microwave-safe containers or in a saucepan on the stove until heated through.

Beef barley soup in a white bowl

Other soup recipes I know you’ll love:

Print

Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup

Beef barley soup in a white bowl

A wholesome stew of beef, barley, potatoes and vegetables with fresh thyme and a flavorful broth.

  • Author: Julie Andrews
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 25 min
  • Total Time: 40 min
  • Yield: Serves 8 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds beef chuck roast, fat trimmed, diced
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 medium Yukon gold or red potatoes, diced
  • 34 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, stemmed and minced
  • 22 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¾ cup pearled barley
  • 56 cups unsalted beef stock
  • 12 cubes all-natural low sodium bouillon (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions

  1. Turn the Instant Pot on the saute setting. Heat oil, add the diced beef and saute until browned on all sides. Add the onion, carrots, celery and potatoes and saute 3-4 minutes or until slightly soft. Stir in garlic, thyme, salt, black pepper, celery salt, dry mustard and barley.
  2. Add stock, bouillon (if using) and bay leaf. Secure lid on the Instant Pot with toggle on sealed. Set on high pressure for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, carefully use a wooden spoon to push toggle to venting to release the steam. Carefully remove the lid; scoop out bay leaf and discard. 
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. 

Notes

Stove-Top Instructions: Heat oil in a Dutch oven to medium heat. Add beef and saute until browned on all sides. Add vegetables and saute an additional 4-5 minutes. Stir in garlic, seasonings and barley. Add stock, bouillon and bay leaf and bring to a simmer, cooking 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until barley is cooked. Discard bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Slow Cooker Instructions: Heat oil in a Dutch oven to medium heat. Add beef and saute until browned on all sides. Transfer to a slow cooker and add the remaining soup ingredients. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/8 of recipe
  • Calories: 299
  • Sugar: 2
  • Sodium: 730
  • Fat: 16
  • Saturated Fat: 6
  • Unsaturated Fat: 10
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 16
  • Fiber: 2
  • Protein: 21
  • Cholesterol: 53

Keywords: best, easy, delicious, stew, winter, comfort food, homemade, from scratch

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