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Slow Cooker Beef & Barley Soup

Tender-beef, silky barley, tomatoes + plenty of carrots. Yum!
Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time7 hrs
Total Time7 hrs 30 mins
Course: dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beef and barley, beef and barley soup, slow cooker soup
Servings: 4


  • 3 onions chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or 1 T fresh, minced
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 4 cups beef stock or beef broth
  • 3 carrots peeled & chopped
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce or low sodium tamari sauce
  • 1/4 cup pearl barley NOT quick cooking variety
  • 1 to 1 & 1/2 lb beef blade steak, trimmed or flatiron steak, trimmed
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley


  • In a large glass bowl, stir together chopped onions, tomato paste and thyme. Cook in microwave, stirring halfway through, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Place onion mixture, tomatoes, beef stock, red wine, carrots, soy sauce & pearl barley (everything but beef, parsley, salt & pepper) into slow cooker.  Stir until combined.
  • Trim fat from beef and season with salt and pepper. Nestle beef into slow cooker and cook on low for 9-10 hours or on high for 6-7 hours.
  • Remove beef from slow cooker and shred with two forks.  Skim extra fat off surface of the soup (if any), and return shredded beef to the soup. Stir.
  • Top with fresh parsley and season with extra salt and pepper, if needed.


  1. Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen
  2. If doubling, reduce chicken stock to 2 total cups (instead of 4), so it will fit in a standard slow cooker.
  3. You can substitute 2 15-oz. cans of diced tomatoes for the crushed tomatoes. Just puree them in a blender for 5 seconds before adding them to slow cooker.
  4. There’s not a ton of barley in here, but because of that it’s extra-velvety and allows the tomatoes, beef and carrots to shine through.  You can certainly add up to ¼ cup extra if you like a thicker soup.
  5. Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of onions in this recipe.  Three onions may seem outrageous, but they really make the soup, and they cook down considerably.
  6. This one freezes beautifully, so double it and throw half in the freezer (minus the parsley) for a night off next month.  To double, depending on the size of your slow cooker, you’ll want to reduce the beef broth to 6 cups (instead of 8) because you may run out of room.  My slow cooker is a standard size Revel brand “Crock Pot”.