Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup is an easy dinner packed with tasty flavor and meaty goodness. It’s just the recipe you need when the temperature drops.

It costs approximately $42.17 to make this soup. The soup makes ten recipes for about $4.22 per serving.

Making soup in the slow cooker is a simple way to enjoy hearty soups during soup season. My favorites include this Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup, Slow Cooker Taco Soup, and Slow Cooker Ham Chowder.

The finished Beef and Barley Soup in a crockpot.

This Beef and Barley Soup packs a lot of flavors! This is due to the layering of flavors — sautéed meat and veggies, tomato paste, red cooking wine, beef and bone broths, and finally a dash of Worcestershire sauce. All these elements together make for a flavorful dish that highlights the stars of the soup: beef and barley!

This low-maintenance dinner is perfect for those chilly nights when you want to cozy up with a bowl of soup but do not have time to stand over the stove making soup. Most of the magic with this soup happens in the crockpot’s slow and low cooking process after a few minutes of prep work on your part.

The result is a melding of flavors with chunks of tender beef and sauteed veggies. Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup is full of proteins and veggies that are perfect for dipping crusty bread into. The meal is total comfort food at its best!

A white bowl full of slow cooker Beef and Barley Soup.

Ingredients and Estimated Cost

Per Serving Cost: $4.22

Recipe Cost: $42.17

  • 3 pounds stew meat – $17.94
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil – $0.09
  • 1 large onion – $0.70
  • 1 medium fennel bulb – $3.49
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms – $1.99
  • 3 large carrots – $0.42
  • 5 medium garlic cloves – $0.20
  • ½ cup red cooking wine – $0.80
  • 1 quart beef broth – $2.99
  • 1-quart beef bone broth – $3.99
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes – $0.98
  • 1 cup pearl barley – $2.02
  • ¼ cup tomato paste – $0.24
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme – $0.10
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce $0.05
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley – $0.56

NOTE: The recipe prices are calculated by using grocery store websites. The actual cost of the recipe will vary depending on what ingredients you already have. I updated the pricing for this recipe in November 2022.

An overhead picture of all of the ingredients needed to make this recipe.

How To Make Beef and Barley Soup

  1. First, pat the beef dry with paper towels and then season with salt and pepper. 
  2. Then, heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Brown half of the meat for six to eight minutes, place the meat and juices in the slow cooker and repeat the process with the other half. 
  3. Heat another tablespoon of oil in the pan and cook the onions, fennel, mushrooms, and carrots for about seven to eight minutes before adding the garlic to cook for an additional minute. 
  4. Add the vegetables to the slow cooker. 
  5. Then add the wine, broth, tomatoes, barley, tomato paste, and thyme to the slow cooker. 
  6. Cover and cook on low for eight hours. Ten minutes before serving, ladle off fat from the surface and then stir in the Worcestershire sauce and parsley. 
  7. Cook for an additional ten minutes. 
  8. Finally, season to taste with salt and pepper and ladle into bowls to serve. 

***For complete recipe instructions, see the recipe card below.

A picture collage showing how to make this recipe.

Recipe Variations

  • Bone broth has become a popular ingredient, and you can easily find it at most grocery stores. It adds a lot of meaty flavor to the soup. If you can’t find bone broth or don’t want to use it, then use another 4 cups of beef broth.
  • Instead of red cooking wine you can use more beef broth.
  • If you’re short on time in the morning, prep this recipe right until cooking it in the slow cooker. Cover the slower cooker insert, and keep it in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Storage Tips

SERVE: Garnish the bowls with fresh chopped parsley before serving. You can keep the soup out for no longer than two hours before it needs to be covered and refrigerated. 

STORE: Leftover soup can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

FREEZE: Once cooled, place the soup in a freezer-safe container or zipper top bag. Freeze for 3-4 months.

THAW: Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

REHEAT: Simply reheat the soup on the stovetop. You will probably need to add a little water to it because the barley soaks up the broth while it sits.

Recipe FAQs

Can pearl barley be cooked in a slow cooker?

Yes! That is one of the benefits of this recipe. Put the barley in the crockpot with the other ingredients, and it will cook to the appropriate texture while it slowly cooks in the liquid.

What is the difference between barley and pearl barley?

The main difference between barley and pearl barley is that pearl barley does not have an outer husk and bran layer around it as barley does. You can quickly tell the difference when looking at the two by the look of it. Pearled barley is polished, and hulled barley is not.

A close up picture of the finished Beef and Barley Soup in a white bowl.

More Soups

A ladle picking up the finished Beef and Barley Soup recipe.
5 from 9 votes

Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

Recipe Cost $ $42.17
Serving Cost $ $4.22
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 15 minutes
10 servings
Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup is an easy dinner packed with tasty flavor and meaty goodness. It’s just the recipe you need when the temperature drops.

Equipment

  • slow cooker
  • large saute pan
  • wooden spoon
  • measuring cup
  • Measuring spoon
  • chef's knife
  • cutting board

Ingredients
 
 

  • 3 pounds stew meat trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil divided
  • 1 large onion chopped fine
  • 1 medium fennel bulb chopped small with green parts discarded
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms sliced
  • 3 large carrots peeled and chopped into ½-inch pieces
  • 5 medium garlic cloves minced
  • ½ cup red cooking wine
  • 1 quart beef broth 4 cups
  • 1 quart beef bone broth 4 cups
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley plus more for serving

Instructions

COOK MEAT:

  • Using paper towels, pat beef dry (you need the meat dry to get a nice sear) and season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a large pan over medium-high heat with one tablespoon of oil until just smoking.
  • Brown half of the meat, about 6-8 minutes.
  • Transfer meat and juices to the slow cooker insert, and repeat with one tablespoon of oil and the rest of the meat.

COOK VEGETABLES:

  • Keep heat at medium-high. Add one tablespoon of oil to the pan, onions, fennel, mushrooms, and carrots.
  • Cook, often stirring, until mushrooms have released their moisture and vegetables are softened, about 7-8 minutes.
  • Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer vegetables to slow cooker insert.

SLOW COOK:

  • Add wine, broth, tomatoes, barley, tomato paste, and thyme to slow cooker insert.
  • Cover the slow cooker and cook until meat is tender. Cook on LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours.
  • Ten minutes before serving, ladle off fat from the surface, and stir in Worcestershire sauce and parsley.
  • Cover and cook for ten more minutes.

TO FINISH:

  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Ladle soup into bowls, and garnish with parsley. Serve.

Notes

  • Before you sauté the meat, you need to make sure that the pan is super-hot (when you see little wisps of smoke, it’s ready), and you need to pat the meat dry on all sides. These things will help get a nice sear on the meat. Sear=flavor, and we want a lot of flavor in this beef and barley soup!
  • You will need to use a slow cooker with a capacity of at least 7.5 quarts to make this soup.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups | Calories: 377kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 572mg | Potassium: 1086mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 3865IU | Vitamin C: 16.3mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 5.1mg

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15 Comments

  1. You’re someone after my own heart — adding wine to the stew for depth, using barley for some heartiness, AND serving it with crusty bread?! I like how you think!! Cheers!!

    1. Thanks so much, Nicole!

  2. Amanda Mason says:

    This soup looks really fantastic! I’ve never heard of Holland House Red Cooking Wine but now I’m really interested to learn more about them! I love all the ingredients in this recipe! Thanks for posting this recipe! I’m excited to make it!

    1. You’re so welcome, Amanda! I hope you enjoy the recipe and Holland House!

  3. Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine says:

    Your photos of this soup are amazing! I find red soups hard to photograph. I love the one with the steam!

    1. Thanks, Michelle. It’s my favorite shot as well. 🙂

  4. I love slow cooked beef, it becomes so tender and flavourful! I haven’t made any soups in ages, so it looks like I need to dig out my slow cooker and make a soup.

    1. Exactly, nothing beats tender, juicy, slow-cooked beef!

  5. This looks so comforting and delicious!!

  6. This is just the kind of thing I love to make for the family during the winter. It’s so warming and hearty.

  7. Luci Petlack says:

    This is so good and perfect for the cold weather. Thanks for sharing!

  8. This soup is so hearty and flavorful! Perfect for those cold winter days too!

  9. Now this is the perfect cold weather soup! Yum!

  10. This recipe looks so comforting, satisfying and hearty!! Great for the cold winter weather we’ve been having!