Did you know you can easily make classic beef and barley soup in the Instant Pot?! This soup recipe is packed with flavor, takes almost no prep time, and is so comforting.
It’s very filling on its own, or serve it with a side salad and a piece of crusty bread for an extra cozy and filling meal.
Instant Pot Vegetable Beef Soup with Barley
I love the texture of this Instant Pot soup! It’s packed with succulent chunks of beef and deliciously chewy barley (barley is my all-time favorite cereal in soup because of how chewy it is).
There are also plenty of nutritious vegetables: carrots, celery and mushrooms! Potatoes top off the stew with some extra staying power.
If you’re looking for a cozy and hearty soup to warm you up, this is it! The beef gets really tender and shreds easily, while the barley and veggies add a nice variety of textures and heartiness.
The barley also really absorbs all the delicious flavors from the soup.
Here’s what you’ll need to prepare this Instant Pot Beef and Barley Soup recipe:
- Beef fodder or round stew meat (You can usually find diced boneless beef stew meat at the butcher/grocery store. But if you can’t find it, you can buy trimmed beef or round beef and dice it into about 2-inch cubes. You’ll need about 5 pounds of meat.)
- Mushrooms (I love baby bella mushrooms in this recipe!)
- potatoes (I use Yukon Gold potatoes.)
- fresh thyme (You can use dried thyme in a pinch, but it’s not quite as aromatic or flavorful as fresh thyme.)
- tomato paste
- Worcester sauce
- bay leaves
- pearl barley (For this recipe you will need pearl barley, not quick cooking barley. Quick barley is pre-cooked, so it cooks too quickly in the Instant Pot and becomes mushy when the beef is tender.)
- beef broth (I highly recommend using low-sodium beef broth. That way you have more control over the amount of salt in the soup.)
Finally, freshly chopped parsley makes a great garnish, but isn’t essential!
Looking for more Instant Pot soup recipes? Try this Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup or this Instant Pot Tortellini Soup.
How to make Beef Barley Soup in an Instant Pot
To make this beef soup, start by turning on the Instant Pot’s pressure cooker or “saute” feature. Once hot, add olive oil and half of the beef cuts in a single layer.
Sear the beef for 2 minutes, then flip the pieces over to brown the other side. Transfer to a plate or bowl and repeat with the remaining beef. Set aside for now.
Next add the chopped greens (onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms and potatoes), chopped garlic and fresh thyme.
Stir, cook, for a few minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. (Make sure any browned bits on the bottom of the pot are scraped off.)
Then stir in the tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce to coat the vegetables. Return the beef chunks to the Instant Pot along with the bay leaves and uncooked barley.
Pour in the beef broth and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Next, add the lid and seal the Instant Pot valve. Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes, then turn off the Instant Pot and let sit for 15 minutes. Turn the valve to “vent” to release the remaining pressure.
(You can use a spoon to skim excess fat from the top of the soup, if you like.)
Finally, remove the bay leaves and garnish with parsley before serving!
To store this barley soup, let it cool completely. Then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.
If you want to reheat it, either microwave it until hot (half stir) or heat it on the stovetop. (If using the hot plate method, be sure to simmer the soup for 3 minutes to ensure it is fully heated.)
Which cuts of beef should I use?
Boneless beef stew is the easiest option here and can often be found at the butcher’s or in the butcher/deli section of grocery stores.
Otherwise, you can use trimmed beef chuck or round beef and just cut it into 2-inch cubes.
Which type of barley should I use? Can I replace pearl barley with snap barley?
Be sure to use pearl barley for this recipe (the back of the package should say 40-50 minutes cook time) and not quick barley (which is pre-cooked and cooks in ~10 minutes).
Quick-cooking barley is great for other uses, but I wouldn’t use it for this recipe as it overcooks and becomes mushy in the Instant Pot.
Should barley be boiled before adding it to the soup?
nope! The barley is added at the beginning of the recipe and cooked along with the other soup ingredients.
Can you freeze beef and barley soup?
Yes! This soup freezes well and is a great meal prep option.
The barley will continue to absorb liquid as it cools, so the soup will thicken after refrigeration/freezing. You may want to add a little beef stock to the soup when reheating leftovers to bring it back to the consistency you want.
To freeze, make sure the soup is completely cool, then pour individual servings (or the serving size you want to reheat slightly) into ziplock bags and lay flat in the freezer to freeze.
The easiest way to do this is to freeze the soup pouches lying flat on a baking sheet. Once frozen, remove the baking sheet and you’ve got a nice flat frozen soup pouch that’s easy to store.
When the soup is spread out and frozen flat this way, it’s also easier to thaw (as opposed to a really thick, large portion) since you can break it up into pieces and place in a saucepan on the stove to reheat.
Can I make this soup on the stove?
Yes! Stovetop Preparation: Follow the first three recipe steps in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Return the beef to the saucepan with the bay leaves and beef broth, turn the heat to low and cover. Cook for 45-60 minutes until the beef is quite tender.
Then add the barley, cover and cook for another 45-60 minutes until the beef is tender and the barley is cooked.
Whether you need a healing soup to make you feel better or you just want a little more coziness in your life, this soup is the way to go. I hope you love it!
See the full Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup recipe at the bottom of this post.
More soup recipes to try:
More Instant Pot recipes to try:
Instant Pot Beef & Barley Soup
This Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup is super easy to make in the Instant Pot, packed with flavor and texture, and so comforting.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 lb beef chuck or round stew beef, diced
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, chopped
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1 cup pearl barley (not quick-cooking barley)
6 cups low-sodium beef broth
Salt and black pepper to taste
Freshly chopped parsley for garnish
- Turn the Instant Pot on the “saute” function and allow to heat. Add the olive oil and half the beef in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper and let the beef brown for about 2 minutes, then flip and let brown for another 2 minutes. Transfer the beef to a bowl or plate and set aside while repeating the browning steps with the remaining beef. Remove the second portion of beef from the Instant Pot and set aside.
- Add onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms, potatoes, garlic and thyme to Instant Pot. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften and any browned bits have lifted from the bottom of the pot.
- Add the tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce to the saucepan and stir until the tomato paste is soft and covers the vegetables.
- Return the beef to the pot along with the bay leaves, barley, beef broth, and a pinch of pepper.
- Place the lid on the instant pot and turn the valve to “seal”. Set to high pressure for 20 minutes. Once the timer is up, turn off the Instant Pot and let it sit for 15 minutes before turning the valve to “Vent” to release any remaining pressure.
- If desired, use a spoon to skim excess fat from the top of the soup. Remove bay leaves and garnish with parsley before serving. Season with salt to taste.