Barley Legal: The Speediest Beef Barley Soup Ever | Yummly

Barley Legal: The Speediest Beef Barley Soup Ever

One pot, one hour, and a few shortcuts are all you need for this hearty, family-pleasing soup.

The biggest struggle I have feeding a family is not the number of mouths to feed, but the number of palates to satisfy. While I wouldn’t categorize anyone in my family as particularly picky, the Venn diagram of food preferences shows very little overlap in taste. In my household, one kid prefers lean meat, the other prefers soft, spoonable beef and dark meat chicken. Two of us adore mushrooms, the other two won't get near them. 

Despite the odds being stacked against it, this Weeknight Beef Barley Soup magically falls smack-dab in the tiny center of the Venn diagram, where it is enjoyed by all. Soup is generally a crowd pleaser for us, but many beef soups are too rich for one of my kids. And a soup chock full of mushrooms would normally be an automatic no for family dinner. And I do not love chicken noodle nearly as much as everyone else. But this sneaky soup has a few tricks up its sleeve that get everyone on board. It’s hearty, deeply flavorful, and comes together in about an hour on the stovetop. No slow cooker or Instant Pot needed. 

Jump ahead to:

What cut of meat do I use for this quick version of beef barley soup? >>

How do I cook with dried mushrooms? >>

How to make Weeknight Beef Barley Soup  >>

What do I serve with beef barley soup? >>

Can I freeze Weeknight Beef Barley Soup? >>

Get the recipe: Weeknight Beef Barley Soup >>

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What cut of meat do I use for this quick version of beef barley soup?

Most beef soups and stews are made with fattier cuts of beef, such as chuck roast or short rib. They cook for hours, breaking down into soft shreds that release fat and collagen into the broth. This Weeknight Beef Barley Soup uses a strip steak instead. The lean steak is trimmed of fat, and cut into bite-sized cubes. The cubes are seasoned well and seared quickly in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. They’re set aside while the rest of the soup is built. It’s added back in only for the last minute of cooking. The beauty of using the New York strip steak is that it provides a ton of flavor and is at its most tender after just a few minutes of cooking. It’s also a great way to stretch a single steak to feed four. 

Cubes of NY Strip Steak for Weeknight Beef Barley Soup; photograph by Meleyna Nomura

How do I cook with dried mushrooms?

Dried mushrooms are an excellent way to add deep flavor to quick-cooking soups and stews. The mushroom haters in my house find the texture objectionable, not the taste. Opting for dried mushrooms for this soup overcomes that obstacle. They come in many varieties, such as porcini, morel, or even a mixed variety. To use them, simply soak the dried mushrooms in boiling water while you build the rest of the soup, about 15 minutes. Remove them from the water and chop finely. Add them along with the soaking liquid to the soup. The DIY mushroom broth adds a big boost of umami to the pot with very little effort. And all without the texture of mushrooms that turns a lot of people off. 

Using rehydrated dried mushrooms in Weeknight Beef Barley Soup; photograph by Meleyna Nomura

How to make Weeknight Beef Barley Soup

Start with soaking the dried mushrooms in hot water. While they’re rehydrating, trim the fat off of a New York strip steak and cut into ½-inch pieces. Season liberally with kosher salt and black pepper. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven. Sear the meat in two batches. Set aside on a plate to rest while building the rest of the soup.

Saute diced yellow onion, carrots, and celery in a little extra oil plus the beefy flavor left on the bottom of the pot. Add a few spoonfuls of tomato paste for body and richness, plus a few chopped cloves garlic and fresh thyme for additional flavor. Stir in a quart of beef broth, scraping to release the browned bits of flavor from the bottom of the pot into the soup. Finely chop the rehydrated mushrooms. Add them to the pot along with the mushroom-soaking water, low-sodium beef stock, and a bay leaf. Bring to a simmer.

The final secret to this shortcut soup is quick cooking barley. Normally, pearl barley can take 45 minutes to cook through. Quick cooking barley softens in just ten minutes of simmering on the stovetop. Once the barley is soft, return the cooked steak and any accumulated juices back into the pot. Heat for just a minute to rewarm the meat. Serve with more fresh thyme to garnish.

What do I serve with beef barley soup?

Beef barley soup is a one-pot meal that’s great as-is. It’s a hearty soup full of veggies, meat, and barley. If you want to serve something alongside the soup, consider these ideas:

  • Crusty bread would make an excellent addition for dunking into the flavorful broth

  • A green salad with a vinaigrette would also be a lovely side dish to brighten up the overall meal

  • For extra large appetites, a grilled cheese would be a delicious accompaniment. Opting for a Swiss or gruyere cheese would be especially tasty with the soup. Dip the griddled sandwich into the soup and enjoy the rich cheese with the lean meat.

Can I freeze Weeknight Beef Barley Soup?

Weeknight Beef Barley Soup freezes beautifully. Make the whole batch ahead of time and freeze for a super fast weeknight meal with essentially no day-of prep time. Or freeze in individual portions in airtight containers for speedy lunches. The barley will likely soak up some of the broth in the freezer. Reheat with a little extra broth or even just some water to return it to the original consistency. 

Get the recipe: Weeknight Beef Barley Soup

The Yummly App's Weeknight Beef Barley Soup is just the recipe to have in your back pocket on a chilly Wednesday night. Whether you’re looking to stretch a single steak to feed a family, get a hearty meal on the table quickly, or both, this recipe is the answer.

Yummly Original

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