Beef Barley Soup with Mushrooms

I took out too much ground meat last night and thought I’d use the extra for this Beef Barley soup. It’s the first time I’ve ever cooked with barley, and I bought it the same day I bought lentils because they were both housed next to each other on the shelf. It was sort of an impulse buy but not really because I had seen this recipe and wanted to try it.

Hubby likes the canned barley soup (yuck), and I actually like the soft yet firm texture of the barley; plus, it’s another of those good-for-you ingredients (high in dietary fiber). Hence, this seemed like a tester recipe.

Want to know more about barley? My Encyclopedia of Healing Foods classifies it as a minor food grain. That leaves me wondering what in the world the major food grains are and who decides which is major or minor?!

Factoid: more than 80% of barley that is produced is used to either feed livestock or make alcohol, like beer and whiskey.

The other 20% that we humans consume in food products is described as a “glutenous grain…[with] a rich, nutlike flavor and a … chewy, pastalike consistency.” Well no wonder I like barley: I love nuts and I love pasta. There you have it.

Like lentils, barley comes in many forms: hulled, pearl (intensely milled), pot/Scotch (has bran layer still on it), flakes, and grits. How’s that for variety?

Back to my soup: I used loads of mushrooms by mistake. I sliced up what we had in the fridge before I remembered that I had some leftover sliced mushrooms from the pizza I made a couple nights earlier. Good thing hubby loves mushrooms ;  )

Overall, a thick, hearty soup with tons of goodies. We liked it. We’ll make it again. And again. And maybe even again.

Beef Barley Soup with Mushrooms

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  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped medium
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped medium
  • 12 ounces cremini or white mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup drained canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • 2 cups meat shredded into bite size pieces (I used ground meat)
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves (or you can substitute fresh dill)
  • salt and ground black pepper


  1. Heat oil in large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and carrots; saute until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add 1 more tbsp. oil and mushrooms; saute until mushrooms soften and the liquid they throw off evaporates, 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add thyme, tomatoes, broth, meat, and barley. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until vegetables and barley are tender, about 45 minutes.
  5. Stir in parsley; salt and pepper to taste.

SOURCE: The New Recipe Book (pg. 40)

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