Beef Barley Soup

By Chef Max Straczek

This recipe is a rich and hearty option for one of those colder evenings…

40 min cook time

Serves 4

Why we like it

Originally known as ‘Scots Barley Broth,’ this classic Beef Barley Soup has origins tracing back to a recipe first published in one of Scotland’s earliest written cookbooks.

There are many ways to warm the soul when the temperature drops, but few can offer as much warmth and be as quick and easy to make at home!

The beef and the mushrooms in this recipe add a rich umami flavour. The pearl barley makes it hearty. And the veggies add warmth and nourishment on those days you’re looking for some comfort in a bowl.


4 servings

Preparation Notes

Chicken broth?? Yes, you read that correctly! In this recipe, we have opted for a good quality chicken broth over a beef broth for a number of reasons.

Chicken broth has a more neutral profile than beef broth, which allows the flavours from the browned stewing beef, as well as the vegetables, to come through better in the soup.

Additionally, we recommend that everyone should always have a good quality, homemade chicken broth at the ready for soups, and so many more recipes.

Making the recipe

  1. Step 1

    Beef & bacon

    • In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, cook the chopped bacon over a medium-high heat until most of the fat has been rendered, and set aside.
    • Next, melt the butter, then add the beef.
    • Season lightly with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until browned on all sides.
    • Return the cooked bacon to the pot.
    Next step
  2. Step 2


    • Add the garlic, carrots, celery, and onions to the pot, and sauté for 4-5 minutes until softened.
    • Season with salt, and stir occasionally for an even cook, making sure to scrap up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
    Next step
  3. Step 3

    Mushrooms, barley & broth

    • Add the mushrooms, and cook for an additional minute.
    • Stir in the barley until fully combined.
    • Pour in the broth and bring up to a boil.
    • Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 20-22 minutes, until the meat and vegetables are tender, and the barley is cooked.
    Next step
  4. Step 4

    Season & serve

    • Taste to test the seasoning, then stir in the lemon juice to brighten the soup.
    • Ladle into bowls, garnish with a dollop of sour cream and parsley, serve, and enjoy!