December 7, 2022

meatatoneills

The Food Universe

Instant Pot Beef and Barley Soup

Instant Pot Beef and Barley Soup is a hearty, satisfying soup that is incredibly easy to make. Filled with tender beef and perfectly cooked barley in a rich, flavorful broth, this Beef and Barley Soup hits the spot with minimal effort required.

Bowl of Instant Pot Beef and Barley Soup next to crusty bread.

There is nothing more comforting than a rich and hearty soup on a cold day.

However, it typically takes hours to develop a flavorful soup. And that is just not something most of us have time for, especially on busy weeknights. 

Not so with this Instant Pot! You can develop incredible flavor in a short amount of time. Which is one of many reasons to LOVE this recipe for Instant Pot Beef and Barley Soup. 

This soup comes together in under an hour and with minimal hands-on work. The vegetables and beef before tender, the barley is perfectly cooked, and the broth is insanely flavorful. Instant Pot Beef and Barley Soup is a rich, hearty, and guaranteed to warm you to your core.

Notes on Ingredients

Ingredients for Beef and Barley soup labeled on counter for Beef and Barley Soup.
  • Beef: Sirloin beef, chuck roast, or stew meat are all great options for this Beef and Barley Soup. Either purchase a whole sirloin steak or chuck roast and cut yourself into approximately 2-inch cubes, or purchase stew meat that has already been cubed for you.
  • Diced Tomatoes: If you have issues with the texture of diced tomatoes, feel free to use crushed tomatoes in their place.
  • Beef Broth/Beef Stock: Use a high-quality low-sodium beef broth or stock for the best flavor, while still controlling the level of sodium in the soup.
  • Barley: Be sure to use pearl barley, not quick-cook barley for best results.

How to Make Instant Pot Beef and Barley Soup

  • Turn the Instant Pot to saute, add in a bit of oil, and let heat. 
  • While the oil is heating, season the beef generously with salt and pepper and toss to coat. 
  • Add the seasoned beef to the inner pot, along with the carrots, onions, and celery. Saute this mixture until the meat is browned and the vegetables begin to soften. 
  • Add in garlic and saute 1 minute longer and then turn off the Instant Pot by hitting cancel.. Do not be tempted to add the garlic when adding the beef, onions, celery, and carrots, as garlic can burn quickly.
Beef, onions, celery, and carrots sauteed in the inner pot of the instant pot.
  • Any time we use the saute function, it is crucial to deglaze the inner pot to remove any browned bits off the inner pot, which will prevent a burn notice. To do so, add in 1 cup of the broth and then use a spoon or spatula to scrape up all those browned bits off the bottom of the inner pot.
  • Add in the remaining broth, diced tomatoes, barley, bay, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. And give it all a stir to combine.
Ingredients for Beef and Barley Soup in inner pot of instant pot.
  • Place lid on Instant Pot and close valve to sealed. Set to cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. This will ensure the beef becomes tender, the broth rich, and the barley to be just perfectly cooked.
  • Once the cooking time has elapsed, allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 15 minutes. To try to do a quick release of pressure would cause hot liquid to spew all over the kitchen and the beef to potentially seize up and become tough. It is crucial to be patient.
  • After 15 minutes, you can release any remaining pressure by carefully knocking the venting knob from the sealed position to the venting position using a long spoon or pot holder.
  • Remove the bay and sprigs of thyme and serve.
Ladle of beef and barley soup being taken out of the Instant Pot.

What to Serve with Beef and Barley Soup

Beef and Barley Soup is hearty and delicious and can stand alone as a meal. However, I love to serve it with crusty homemade Dutch Oven bread or Italian Breadto soak up the rich broth. I also love to round the meal out with a side salad, such as a caesar salad or Copycat Panera Greek Salad.

Bowl of Instant Pot Beef and Barley Soup next to crusty bread.

Slow Cooker Directions

Don’t have an Instant Pot? You can make Crockpot Beef and Barley Soup easily!

  • In a large stockpan or cast-iron skillet, heat 1-2 teaspoons of oil over medium-high heat.
  • Once the oil is heated, add the seasoned beef, carrots, onions, and celery to the pan and saute until the beef is evenly browned on all sides. Remove from the heat.
  • Add the meat and vegetables to the slow cooker, along with the garlic, beef broth, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, barley, Worcestershire sauce. Give everything a good stir to combine.
  • Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6 hours.
  • Remove the bay leaves and stems of thyme and serve as desired.

Storage Instructions

Beef and barley soup both reheats and freezes well, making it a great soup to make in large batches and keep on hand in the freezer for a hearty bowl of comforting soup on a busy night.

  • To Refrigerate: Allow the soup to cool slightly and then store the soup in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • To Freeze: Allow the soup to cool slightly and then transfer the cooled soup to freezer-safe containers or bags, being sure to allow 1 to 2 inches of excess space to allow for expansion. Store the Beef and Barley soup in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To Reheat: If needed, defrost the soup in the refrigerator overnight. Transfer the leftover soup to a heat-safe bowl or in small stockpan and heat until warmed through. Keep in mind, you may need to add a splash of stock or water when reheating, as the barley absorbs some of the liquid after being refrigerated or frozen.

Recipe FAQs

Do you have to saute the meat first?

It is NOT necessary to saute the beef and vegetables first, but it does add a depth flavor to the final soup.

Can you use frozen beef?

Yes! As long as your frozen beef is cubed. To prepare this soup with frozen beef, do not saute the beef. Instead just saute the onions, carrots, and celery if desired, and then add the beef with the remaining ingredients. Adjust the cooking time to 30 minutes.

Is Beef and Barley Soup Gluten-Free?

I am often asked if Barely is gluten-free. Barley contains gluten and therefore, this soup is NOT gluten-free.

Instant Pot Soup Recipes

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Bowl of Beef and Barley Soup next to crusty bread.

Instant Pot Beef and Barley Soup

Instant Pot Beef and Barley Soup is an easy recipe for a soup that features tender beef and perfectly cooked barley in a rich, deep broth.

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Course: Soup

Cuisine: American

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Pressure Build-Up and Release: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Servings: 8

Calories: 159kcal

Prevents your screen from going dark while preparing the recipe.

Instructions

  • Turn the pressure cooker to saute function, add oil, and let heat for a minute.

  • While the oil is heating, season the meat evenly with ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper.

  • Once the oil is heated, add in the beef, carrots, celery, and onion. Saute until the beef is browned on all sides and the vegetables begin to soften. Add in garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Turn Instant Pot OFF.

  • Add in 1 cup of beef stock and scrape up the bottom of the pressure cooker to remove any browned bits using a wooden spoon or spatula.

  • Add the remaining broth, tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, ½ teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, and Worcestershire Sauce.

  • Rinse the barley using a fine mesh strainer and then stir into the remaining ingredients in the inner pot.

  • Place lid on Instant Pot and close the valve to sealed. Set to cook on high pressure for 20 minutes.

  • Allow pressure to release naturally for at least 15 minutes. Then open the lid and remove the bay leaves and the sprig of thyme. Serve warm.

Notes

Beef: Sirloin beef, chuck roast, or stew meat are all great options for this Beef and Barley Soup. Either purchase a whole sirloin steak or chuck roast and cut yourself into approximately 2-inch cubes, or purchase stew meat that has already been cubed for you. 
Saute: It is NOT necessary to saute the beef and vegetables first, but it does add a depth flavor to the final soup.
If using FROZEN cubed beef, do not saute the beef. Instead just saute the onions, carrots, and celery if desired, and then add the beef with the remaining ingredients. Adjust the cooking time to 30 minutes. 
Barley: Be sure to use pearled barley, not quick-cook barley for best results. 
Tomatoes: Diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes both work well to add flavor to the broth, it just comes down to preference or using what you have on hand. 
Storage: Store cooled, leftover soup in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the cooled soup for up to 3 months. Keep in mind, you may need to add a splash of stock or water when reheating, as the barley absorbs some of the liquid as it sits.
Prep Time is 10 minutes. Time to come to pressure 15 minutes. The time to cook is 20 minutes. Time to release pressure is 15 minutes. Total Time 60 minutes. 

Nutrition

Calories: 159kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 445mg | Potassium: 574mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 5095IU | Vitamin C: 2.8mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1.7mg

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This recipe was originally published in 2018 but was updated in 2022 with new pictures and a video.