at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

Simple Beef & Barley Soup (Slow Cooker Recipe)

About a year ago, Tom and I were at my aunt's house and she fed us this amazing meal with a homemade beef and barley soup.  I had never had anything quite like it and, since it was delicious, I asked for the recipe. I've been meaning to make it ever since, and recently started making my own beef broth -- which I thought would be perfect. However, enter Sunday evening when I realize that the recipe is fairly in-depth and really isn't well suited for a Monday night meal, I went in search of an easier cop-out option. I decided to take the really lazy route and just do a "dump and go" Crock Pot meal, based on the ingredients I had on hand. So long, roasted garlic paste and sauteed mushrooms. *Sigh* Another time.  I was convinced that my dump and go recipe would be a failure. Basically another mediocre beef stew with barley thrown in. But, it would be dinner, and it would be something warm on a rainy day.

In the end, not only did my lazy Beef & Barley Soup feel like just the nourishment I needed on a dark and rainy day, I actually really liked it! It may not be my aunt's heavenly stew, but for a simple Monday night meal, it was perfect. I did end up using my homemade broth, and I honestly think that made a world of difference. If you've never tried making your own broth, give it a go! It's super simple in a slow cooker (add soup bones, onions, carrots, herbs, salt and pepper - fill slow cooker with water and cook, cook, cook -- 9-12 hours). It freezes great, and then you'll have it on hand to make this recipe on your next rainy Monday!

Simple Beef & Barley Soup


  • 1 1/4 lbs. beef stew meat (we got 1/4 cow from a local farm this past winter and the meat has been amazing!)
  • 5 cups beef broth (homemade is best!)
  • 3 small yellow onions, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 6oz red wine (I used one of those mini 187mL bottles)
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. dried tarragon (could easily substitute thyme or oregano)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 3 cups of cooked barley (I used the quick-cook barley and just added it at the end)


Dump all ingredients except the barley into your Crock Pot or slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-9 hours. Stir in cooked barley just before serving. I had the quick-cook barley on hand, so I just made that right when I got home from work, then added to the soup.  You could also make that ahead of time and refrigerate it until ready to use in the soup.  I'm not sure how it would turn out if you added regular barley for the whole cooking time...but if you try it, let me know!

Serve this soup with a nice warm slice of crusty bread!  Yum!

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Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Copernicus. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!