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Kalyn's Kitchen

Comforting Ground Beef and Barley Soup

This Comforting Ground Beef and Barley Soup is perfect if you’re tired of rich holiday food. And this is a delicious low-glycemic soup with ground beef that whole family will enjoy. Use Soup Recipes to find more tasty soups!

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Comforting Ground Beef and Barley Soup found on KalynsKitchen.com

I love this time of year when one year is winding down and another is beckoning with possibilities.  If you’re one of the many people thinking about losing a few pounds in 2012, the days between Christmas and New Years may be kind of a planning phase.By now you’ve likely had enough rich holiday food, and you could be thinking about getting started on the South Beach Diet or another low-carb or low-glycemic diet plan, but you’re not be quite ready to take that step yet! I recommend this Comforting Ground Beef and Barley Soup as way to get you thinking about healthier food choices again as you contemplate the new year.

I made this soup when I got home from California a few weeks ago and was coming down with one of those winter cold things you often get when you’ve been on an airplane. I love making soup with whatever I find in the freezer or fridge, and this Ground Beef and Barley Soup was one of those happy experiments that turned out to be a real winner. The soup has both vegetable and beef broth for richness of flavor, and barley is one of my favorite comfort-food ingredients that’s also very nutritious. If you haven’t tried barley in soup, I bet you’ll be surprised how tasty it is in this Ground Beef and Barley Soup!

Today’s the birthday of my brother Rand (who helps me with all things design related on the blog.) Rand loves soup, and currently this soup is the one he’s making over and over, but if I can entice him to come to Utah I do have a container of this ground beef and barley soup in the freezer that has his name on it. (Happy birthday Rand, and thanks for all you do to make my blog look good!)

Comforting Ground Beef and Barley Soup found on KalynsKitchen.com

Start by browning the ground beef (called beef mince if you’re in Europe) in a small amount of olive oil. I like ground beef in soup, but I don’t like the flavor of beef fat so I like to rinse the cooked ground beef with VERY HOT water before I use it in the soup. This is optional and might not be necessary if you’re using lean beef. Another option for removing excess fat from soup with ground beef is using a Stock Skimmer like this one to scoop the fat off when the soup is cooking.

Put the rinsed beef back in the pan, then push it to the side, add a little more olive oil if needed, and saute the onions and garlic. Add the beef stock and vegetable stock (or canned broth), dried parsley, and dried thyme and simmer the soup for 30 minutes. After the soup has simmered for 30 minutes, add the carrots and celery and simmer for 30 minutes more.

Even though I rinsed the ground beef, there is now a little bit of fat on the top of the soup that I’ll skim off with the stock skimmer. Then add the barley and cook about 30 minutes more.  (You may want to add a little water at this point if you think it needs it.) Cook the soup until the barley is done but still slightly chewy, then stir in the balsamic vinegar, season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Serve Ground Beef and Barley Soup piping hot and enjoy!

Comforting Ground Beef and Barley Soup found on KalynsKitchen.com

More Comforting Soups with Barley:

Barley Minestrone with Canadian Bacon, Savoy Cabbage, and Rosemary  from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Mushroom Barley Soup with Miso and Kale from TasteFood
Colombian Barley and Pork Soup from My Columbian Recipes
Turkey Barley Soup from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Weekend Food Prep:

This recipe has been added to a new category called Weekend Food Prep  to help you find recipes you can prep or cook on the weekend and eat during the week!

Comforting Ground Beef and Barley Soup

This Comforting Ground Beef and Barley Soup is perfect for dinner and the whole family will enjoy it!


  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (use beef with less than 10% fat for South Beach Diet)
  • 2 tsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 T minced garlic (or less if you’re not that crazy about garlic)
  • 6 cups homemade beef stock (or use 3 cans beef broth and a little water to make 6 cups)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (or 2 cans vegetable broth and a little water to make 4 cups)
  • 2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1-2 T balsamic vinegar (add 1 T, then taste to see if you want to use more)
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


  1. Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large dutch-oven type pan; then saute the ground beef until it’s cooked through and lightly browned.
  2. If desired, put the ground beef into a fine mesh strainer and rinse with VERY HOT water to remove the fat.  (This is optional, but I think it improves the flavor and it makes the soup lower in fat.  If you don’t have a fine mesh strainer, you can skim off some fat when the soup is cooked.)
  3. Put ground beef back in the pan, push to one side, add 1 tsp. more olive oil (if needed) and then saute the onions and garlic until they are starting to soften.
  4. Add the homemade beef stock , vegetable stock, dried parsley, and dried thyme and let soup cook at a low simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. While soup simmers finely chop the carrots and celery.
  6. After 30 minutes, add chopped vegetables to the soup and simmer for about 30 minutes more.
  7. Then add the barley and simmer for an additional 30 minutes. (Before you add the barley you may want to skim off any fat that’s floated to the top, especially if you didn’t rinse the ground beef.  You may also want to add a little more water at this point.)
  8. When the barley is done but still slightly chewy, turn off heat, stir in the balsamic vinegar, season soup with salt and fresh ground black pepper, and serve hot.


This soup freezes or reheats well, although the barley soaks up the liquid so you may want to add water when you re-heat it.  It’s family-friendly, and uses ingredients you may often keep on hand, so you may want to make a double batch for winter meals.

Recipe created by Kalyn.

All images and text ©

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This Comforting Ground Beef and Barley Soup would be phase 2 or 3 for the South Beach Diet, due to the carrots and barley. If you wanted to make a lower-glycemic (and lower carb) version of this recipe, you could use more beef and celery and omit the carrots, but soup with barley will always be too high in carbs for a strict low-carb diet plan.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Nutritional Information?
If you want nutritional information for a recipe, you can sign up for a free membership with Yummly and use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information. Another option is entering the recipe into this Recipe Nutrition Analyzer, which will calculate it for you.

Comforting Ground Beef and Barley Soup found on KalynsKitchen.com

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28 comments on “Comforting Ground Beef and Barley Soup”

  1. Sorry, we found this very bland. Might someone suggest something to add to the flavor? I don’t want anything too salty. I added a bit of the balsamic vinegar, but didn’t want it to be too vinegary.

    • I wish so much you had added the full amount of vinegar before you decided it was bland, especially since if you scroll down there are at least 10 comments below saying how much they loved it. That’s what I would recommend. You could also add some beef flavor base to supplement the broth if you have that on hand.

  2. Pingback: 60+ Easy Ground Beef Recipes Your Family Will Love to Eat

  3. Rinsing any kind of fat down the drain is a BAD idea – not for your pipes, but for the public system and for the wild life that has no choice but to live in our pollution.

    Very tasty soup!

  4. Can't wait to eat this~~ Simmering in the pot now~

  5. This was a big hit for dinner! My husband said we should have this soup regularly. I added a full cup of Barley. Also, for those with Fresh & Easy grocery stores: they have a pre-chopped "stew mix" that comes with onions, carrots and celery. Made this super easy to make. 🙂 Keep the great recipes coming, Kalyn!

  6. Jovita, how fun. Hope you enjoyed it!

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