Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup is a wholesome and delicious hearty soup made with stew meat, pearl barley and lots of veggies and seasonings. It's a freezer-friendly meal that can be prepared ahead of time or made quickly on a busy night.
My favorite soups are those loaded with wholesome veggies and proteins, and can make a hearty meal that the whole family will love. Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup is one of those- it's easy, delicious, wholesome and filling!
Flavored with beef broth, tomatoes, and lots of seasonings, this soup is similar to some of my other favorite meat, veggie and tomato-based soups, like Instant Pot cabbage soup, slow cooker chicken parmesan soup, and Instant Pot stuffed pepper soup.
This simple and hearty one-pot dinner is packed with good-for-you ingredients like garlic, onions, carrots, celery, and corn. The meat is seared and then pressured cooked in broth, leaving it tender and melt-in-your-mouth fantastic.
It's a healthy and incredibly delicious family dinner that will not disappoint. You can also make it ahead of time and freeze it for dinner or lunch later on.
If you don't enjoy standing over a stove all day simmering soup or forgot to set your slow cooker, then Instant Pot soups are for you! I use my 8 quart Duo Crisp to make soup weekly and I love it. It's a great investment if you make air fryer pressure cooker combo meals.
As written, this recipe was created for an 8 quart pressure cooker and will need to be cut in half to work in a 6 quart pot.
To make beef barley soup you need an assortment of kitchen staples, many of which you likely have on hand.
- Pearl barley: rinsed and uncooked
- Beef cubes: use pre-cut stew meat or a chuck roast that's been trimmed and cut into chunks
- Diced tomatoes: a can of petite diced or traditionally diced (don't train the extra liquid)
- Crushed tomatoes: canned or crush your own
- Carrots: peeled and chopped into your size of choice
- Celery: include the leaves, chop into your size of choice
- Onion: sweet white onion or yellow onion is best
- Worcestershire sauce: can be substituted with a few tablespoons of red wine added at the end after pressure cooking
- Beef broth: store bought or make your own using beef bouillon cubes and water
- Seasonings: dried thyme and parsley, plus salt and pepper
- Bay leaves
Make it even easier by using canned vegetables, which will cut down on the preparation and cook time.
Stew meat works great for pressure cooker soups. If it's not readily available at your local grocery store, use a chuck roast. Trim the fat and cut it into 1 inch chunks.
The tenderness of stew meat will depend on several factors, including the cut of meat and pressure cook timing. First, make sure to choose a tender cut, such as stew meat or chuck roast. Don't use a cut like shoulder chuck which has a lot of connective tissue that's harder to break down.
The connective tissue in meat is made of collagen, which turns to gelatin when cooked. This break down of the connective tissues makes meat moist and tender when cooked correctly. When not cooked correctly, it can become tough and chewy.
Since pressure cookers melt the connective tissues quickly, timing is very important. Don't overcook the meat and always let the pressure naturally release for 10-15 minutes. A natural release keeps the juices and moisture within the meat. If you release pressure immediately and quickly, the juices and moisture also are released with the steam and will make your dinner tough and chewy.
Follow these easy steps:
Step 1. Set the Instant Pot to saute on high for 6 minutes. When it has heated, add the olive oil and stew meat to the pot. Brown the meat on one side for 2 minutes. Flip and brown for another 2 minutes. It's okay if the exterior of the meat isn't fully browned at the end here. We really just want to make sure it's seared for a few minutes to seal in the juices.
Step 2. Add the carrots, onions, garlic and celery and saute for the remaining 2 minutes.
Step 3. Turn off saute mode and add 2 cups of the beef broth. Deglaze the pot thoroughly, then pour in the remaining 8 cups of broth. Add worcestershire sauce, pearl barley, corn, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and bay leaves in that order. Once you add the broth, make sure not to stir! Stirring will move the heavier and thicker ingredients (like tomatoes) to the bottom and increase the chance of receiving the burn notice.
Step 4. Close the lid and seal the vent. Set to pressure cook on high for 20 minutes. When done, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes. Release the remaining pressure with a quick release. Open the lid, stir and remove the inner pot to a heat proof surface. Let cool for 10 minutes, then taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired. Remove bay leaves before serving.
Step 5. Top with extra parsley and thyme or red pepper flakes to add a little spice, if desired. Enjoy!
Tips & FAQs for this Recipe
When making Instant Pot beef barley soup, always remember:
- Deglaze the pot completely after searing the meat otherwise you risk getting the burn notice during pressure cooking. Always add a little broth, then scrape with a spoon until there are no pieces of food stuck to the bottom.
- Never stir after deglazing. Always layer the ingredients as indicated.
- Always natural release meat for at least 10 minutes. This keeps the juices sealed in rather than pulling them out of the meat as it depressurizes quickly, making it tough.
- Adjust the salt and pepper to your liking at the very end, once the soup cools for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the inner pot once it's done for faster cooling and to avoid overcooking the barley and veggies as it sits. I always do this when cooking tender pastas and veggies in the Instant Pot. It really helps to keep your dinner from turning to mush!
- Use the diced tomatoes with the juices in the can.
Need A Kid-Friendly Version?
While beef barley soup is already kid-friendly, your kids may not be entirely pleased with the texture of the beef and tomatoes. Luckily, by pressure cooking the beef it becomes fall apart tender so breaking it into smaller pieces will be easy. If your kids also have issues with diced tomatoes, mash them a bit with a mallet before adding them to the pot.
Chopping the other veggies into very small pieces should also help prevent them from complaining about eating too many vegetables! And feel free to replace the veggies I use with your kids' favorites. Green beans, peas, and diced potatoes also make a great barley soup.
This hearty soup is satisfying as a full meal on its own. It can be served with a side salad or crusty breads like rosemary garlic focaccia, a classic garlic bread, cheddar jalapeno bread, cheese bread or toasted white bread.
How To Store
Fridge: store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezer: store in the freezer for up to 6 months. Lay flat in freezer storage bags or store in freezer-safe containers. Defrost overnight in the fridge or do a quick thaw in the microwave (removed from the plastic containers).
Reheating: use the microwave or stovetop to reheat.
Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 lbs stew meat
- 6 carrots chopped
- 5 celery stalks chopped
- 1 large onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 10 cups beef broth
- 3 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 1 can corn 15 oz
- 3 teaspoon thyme
- 2 teaspoon parsley
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 can crushed tomatoes 15 oz
- 1 can diced tomatoes 15 oz
- 2 bay leaves
- Set the Instant Pot to saute on high for 6 minutes. When it has heated, add olive oil and stew meat to the pot. Brown the meat on one side for 2 minutes. Flip and brown for another 2 minutes. Add the carrots, onions, garlic and celery and saute for the remaining 2 minutes.
- Turn off saute mode and add 2 cups of the beef broth. Deglaze the pot thoroughly, then pour in the remaining 8 cups of broth.
- Add worcestershire sauce, barley, corn, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and bay leaves in that order. Do not stir.
- Close the lid and seal the vent. Set to pressure cook on high for 20 minutes.
- When done, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes. Release the remaining pressure with a quick release. Open the lid, stir and remove the inner pot to a heat proof surface. Let cool for 10 minutes, then taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired. Remove bay leaves before serving.
That's all there is to making and enjoying Instant Pot beef barley soup. Let me know what you thought in the comments below!
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