Do you love a good, hearty soup? This Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup is perfect for a cold day. Not only is it easy to make and full of flavor but it’s also ready in just 40 minutes.
So grab your Instant Pot and let's get started!
Best Beef Barley Soup
Beef barley soup in the Instant Pot is a quick way to have a hearty beef and vegetable soup ready for dinner time!
A combination of tender chunks of beef, onions, carrots, celery and garlic make up the beefy flavors while the chewy barley adds a delightful texture to the soup.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret: making soup from scratch is really easy.
Y’all know I like the easiest - and tastiest - path to our family meals. Because we have stuff to do. I get it.
But here’s a fun fact about me…I haven’t served our family soup from the can in years.
And I’m not saying that as a, “look at me, my family is too good for canned soup” kinda mom. I’m saying it because it really is that easy and it tastes 1 million, no trillion times better.
If you have an Instant Pot, you’ll understand how easy it is the very first time you make this.
And if your Instant Pot is just hanging out on the shelf because you haven’t tackled using it yet…I’m here to walk you through it!
This beef barley soup takes just minutes to prep and cook in the pressure cooker.
So delicious, and so comforting on a cold winter day!
Where did beef barley soup come from?
I feel downright decadent when I eat this hearty soup. But it hasn’t always been intended that way.
Originally, beef barley soup was a peasant's dish. Because beef bones were expensive, beef barley soup was primarily made from leftover beef scraps that the butchers sold for more money.
I guess peasants back in the day had a leg up on the whole bone broth angle, huh??!?
Well, I can tell you there is nothing average, ordinary, or peasant-ish about this dish. It’s 100% delicious comfort food, no matter where it originated.
Let’s talk ingredients. Check your pantry and fridge before you head to the store. You'll need:
- olive oil - to brown the meat before cooking
- beef chuck roast, cut into bite size pieces or cubed stew meat - sometimes these come in larger pieces than I like, so I may cut them in half. Some people must have some seriously large mouths!
- tomato paste - adds richness and flavor
- beef broth - you pick if you want to use store bought or homemade beef stock.
- pearled barley - before you run out to the grocery store, let’s talk about barley for a quick sec. There are two types of barley - the hulled variety and the pearled variety.
- We want pearl barley for this recipe which is still chewy and nutritious, but has some of the outside stripped off, making it cook faster. If you want to read more about barley you can do that here. Bonus: Pearl barley cooks faster in an electric pressure cooker than on the stovetop.
- Aromatic vegetables - carrots, onions and celery. Shortcut: you can often find a soup mix prepared in your grocery store’s produce aisle.
- Spices: dried thyme, garlic powder, salt, black pepper and parsley (fresh or dried)
How to make Beef Barley Soup in the Instant Pot
Alrighty, I promised I’d walk you through how to make this Instant Pot soup. Here we go!
Before you get started cooking, have everything ready to go. Cooking is waaaay less stressful that way!
Open your beef broth container, measure your spices into a small bowl and have your veggies chopped. For real, just do it, even if you’re rolling your eyes right now.
You'll be glad you did.
Okay, one of the bonuses of cooking in the electric pressure cooker is that we can brown the meat in one pan plus cook the soup quickly.
Also, the higher sides mean less spatter out of the pan and because we’re not using the stovetop, it stays clean. (There are times where I specifically use my Instant Pot because I don't’ want to have to wipe down the stovetop. Let’s call this efficiency)
Step 1: Set the Instant Pot to saute. Once it’s heated - it will tell you with a message that says “Hot”, , add the oil to the pan and heat for a minute. It’ll start to look shimmery and that’s when you’ll add your cubed beef.
Don’t stir it right away, give it a few minutes to hang out and get a nice golden brown color on it before you flip it. You’ll know it’s ready to make its move when it flips easily with a spoon or fork.
You’ll let the meat cook for about 5 minutes total. We’re not trying to cook the meat through right here, it’ll do that when it pressure cooks.
We’re just adding color which translates to flavor. Seriously, the peasants knew what they were doing!
Step 2: Next up we’ll add our veggies (some carrots, celery and onion) and we’ll cook for a few more minutes. We want to give these a stir a few times, They’ll start to look a little bit cooked and start to release some moisture.
Step 3: Add the tomato paste and pasta and give it a quick stir to mix it into the vegetables and beef.
Have your stock ready to pour so we don’t burn anything.
Step 4: You’re gonna add the beef stock and the barley, plus all the seasonings. Basically all the remaining ingredients go into the pool here!
We're on the home strech and it's only step 4!
Stir everything one more stir so it’s all mixed together. Add your Instant pot lid and seal it.
Step 5: Set the pressure cook time to 20 minutes.
*Note: the cooking time won’t start right away. The pot needs to come to pressure which will take about 8-10 minutes, then it will start cooking.
Step 6: When the cooking time is complete, let it naturally pressure release for 10 minutes. Just let it hang out and you can grab your favorite soup bowls and a ladle.
Let any remaining pressure out with a quick release and remove the lid. Let it cool for a few minutes and then serve!
Make it a meal: Add canned green beans at the end of the cooking time and stir to heat through. Viola! Your family has their food groups built right into their bowl.
How to store leftovers: This hearty soup is one of those recipes that tastes even better the next day!
Beef barley soup can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days or frozen up to three months. Store your soup in an airtight container and simply reheat on the stove top or in the microwave.
It also works great to reheat it in a portable soup crockpot on the go!
Making beef barley soup for two:
And those of you who are cooking for one or two - you get to reap the benefits because this soup freezes like a dream. In my opinion there’s no benefit from making a smaller batch of soup.
The grocery store usually is selling beef stew meat by the pound, you’ve got the ingredients. I say it’s worth making a full batch and freezing the leftovers. Or, gift them to a friend or neighbor.
I always say cooking is love made visible. Here’s your chance to shine!
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If you make this Instant pot beef barley soup recipe, leave a recipe review or comment below. I'd love to hear from you!
Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1.5 - 2 pounds beef chuck roast cut into cubes (or pre-cut stew meat)
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 5 cups beef broth
- 1 cup pearled barley
- 3 carrots peeled and chopped
- ½ onion chopped
- 2 celery stalks chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Fresh or dried parsley for garnish
- Plug in your electric pressure cooker and set it to the saute setting. Once it’s heated, add the oil to the pan and heat. Add the beef cubes meat and saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring the meat pieces once.
- Add carrots, celery and chopped onion and cook for 4 more minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Mix in tomato paste, stirring to incorporate.
- Add beef stock and barley, plus thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir one more time, then add the Instant Pot lid and set to seal.
- Set the pressure cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. When the cooking time is complete, let it do a natural release for 10 minutes.
- Let any remaining pressure out with a quick release and remove the lid.
- Ladle into your favorite soup bowls and garnish with parsley.
Serve alongside a side of crusty bread.