Did you know you can make classic beef & barley soup really easily in the Instant Pot?! This soup recipe is packed with flavor, has barely any prep time, and is SO comforting.
It’s plenty filling on its own, or serve with a side salad and a hunk of crusty bread for an extra cozy and filling meal.
Instant Pot Vegetable Beef Soup with Barley
I absolutely love the texture of this Instant Pot soup! It’s packed with juicy chunks of beef and deliciously chewy barley (barley is my absolute favorite grain in soup because of the chew).
Plus, there are tons of nourishing veggies: carrots, celery, and mushrooms! Potatoes round out 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 nice texture variety and heartiness.
The barley really soaks up all the delicious flavors from the soup, too.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this Instant Pot beef & barley soup recipe:
- beef chuck or round stew meat (You can usually find boneless cubed beef stew meat at the butcher/grocery store. But if you can’t find it, you can buy trimmed beef chuck or round and dice it into roughly 2-inch cubes. You’ll need about 2 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 won’t be quite as aromatic or flavorful as fresh thyme.)
- tomato paste
- Worcestershire sauce
- bay leaves
- pearled barley (You’ll need pearled barley for this recipe, not quick-cooking barley. Quick barley is par-boiled, so it will cook too quickly in the Instant Pot and get mushy by the time 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.)
Lastly, fresh chopped parsley makes a great garnish, but it isn’t essential!
How to Make Beef & Barley Soup in an Instant Pot
To make this beef soup, start by switching on the pressure cooker or Instant Pot “saute” function. Once hot, add olive oil and half of the beef chunks in a single layer.
Sear the beef for 2 minutes, then flip the pieces over to brown the other side. Remove to a plate or bowl, and repeat with the remaining beef. Set aside for now.
Next, add the chopped vegetables (onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and potatoes), plus minced garlic and fresh thyme.
Stir, cooking, for a few minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. (Make sure any browned bits on the bottom of the pot are scraped up.)
Then, stir in the tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce to coat the vegetables. Add the beef chunks back into 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 the Instant Pot off and let it sit for 15 minutes. Turn the valve to “vent” to release any pressure that’s left.
(If you want, you can use a spoon to skim off any extra grease from the surface of the soup.)
Lastly, remove the bay leaves and garnish with parsley before serving!
To store this barley soup, let it cool completely. Then, transfer in into an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.
When you want to reheat it, either microwave until piping hot (stirring partway through) or reheat on the stovetop. (If using the stovetop method, make sure to bring the soup to a boil for 3 minutes to make sure it’s heated fully.)
Which cuts of beef should I use?
Boneless cubed beef stew meat is the easiest option here, and can often be found at a butcher or in the butcher/deli section of grocery stores.
Otherwise, you can use trimmed beef chuck or beef round, and just cut it into 2-inch cubes.
What type of barley should I use? Can I substitute quick barley for pearl barley?
Be sure to use pearled barley for this recipe (the back of the package should list a cook time of 40-50 minutes) rather than quick barley (which is parboiled and cooks in ~10 minutes).
Quick cooking barley is fantastic for other uses, but I would not use it for this recipe as will cook too fast in the Instant Pot and get mushy.
Should barley be cooked before adding to soup?
Nope! The barley is added near the beginning of the recipe, and will get 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 continues to absorb liquid as it cools, so the soup will thicken after chilling/freezing. You may want to add a little bit of beef broth to the soup when reheating leftovers, in order to return it to your desired consistency.
To freeze, make sure the soup is fully cooled, then pour individual servings (or whatever serving size you want to be able to easily reheat) into zip-top bags and place flat in the freezer to freeze.
The easiest way to do this is to freeze the bags of soup lying flat on a cookie sheet. Once it’s frozen, remove the cookie sheet, and you’ll have a nice flat frozen bag of soup that stores easily.
Having the soup spread out and frozen flat like this will also make it easier to defrost (vs. if it’s frozen in a really thick, large portion) because you can break it up into pieces to place into a pot on the stove to reheat.
Can I make this soup on the stovetop?
Yes! To make this on the stovetop: follow the first three recipe steps in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
Add the beef back into the pot with the bay leaves and beef broth, turn the heat to low, and cover. Cook for 45-60 minutes, until the beef is fairly tender.
Then add the barley, cover, and cook for another 45-60 minutes, until the beef is fork-tender and the barley is cooked through.
Whether you need a healing soup to make you feel better, or just want a little more coziness in your life, this soup is the way to go. I hope you love it!
You’ll find the full Instant Pot beef and barley soup recipe at the end of this post.
More soup recipes to try:
- Turkey Barley Soup with Veggies
- Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Instant Pot Vegetable Soup
- Thai Chicken Soup with Coconut Milk
- Crockpot Turkey Chili
More Instant Pot recipes to try:
- Instant Pot Pork Roast
- Mexican Chicken (Instant Pot)
- Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers
- Instant Pot Chicken Thighs with Maple Mustard Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 lb beef chuck or round stew meat, cubed
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 3 celery ribs, chopped
- 8 oz baby bella mushrooms, chopped
- 2 medium yukon gold potatoes, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup pearled barley (not quick-cooking barley)
- 6 cups low sodium beef broth
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- Fresh chopped parsley, to garnish
- Turn the instant pot to the "saute" function and let it heat up. Add the olive oil and half the beef in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and allow the beef to brown for about 2 minutes before turning over and allowing to brown for another 2 minutes. Remove the beef to a bowl or plate and set aside while repeating the browning steps with the remaining beef. Remove the second batch of beef from the instant pot and set aside.
- Add the onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms, potatoes, garlic, and thyme to the instant pot. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until vegetables are starting to soften and any browned bits from the bottom of the pot have been released.
- Add the tomato paste and worcestershire sauce to the pot and stir until the tomato paste is softened and coats the vegetables.
- Add the beef back into 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 "sealing." Set to high pressure for 20 minutes. Once the timer goes off, turn the instant pot off and let sit for 15 minutes before turning the valve to "venting" to release any remaining pressure.
- If desired, use a spoon to skim off any extra grease from the surface of the soup. Remove the bay leaves and garnish with parsley before serving. Add salt to taste as desired.