This Instant Pot Beef and Barley Soup takes a traditionally slow-simmered soup and gets it on the table in an hour. Each bite of this hearty beef barley soup has a rich and silky broth, tender bites of beef and large chunks of veg. 

The Soup-er Simple Series

This Instant Pot vegetable beef soup recipe is part of our SOUP-er Simple Series! This means it has a short ingredient list, quick cook time, and loads of flavor. The goal is to give you more than enough soup recipes to get you through cold weeknights when all you want is something savory and steaming on the table in 30 minutes or so. 

In order to be apart of the SOUP-er Simple Series, each recipe needs to hit these three criteria: 

  • 10 ingredients or less
  • Ready in under 45 minutes 
  • Taste like it took hours 
beef, barley and vegetable soup in a shallow white bowl

Why This Recipe Works

For starters, we’re pulling out the pressure cooker to keep the process of this hearty soup moving along. Most vegetable beef and barley soup recipes require a long simmer time (or slow cooker) to break down the collagen-rich connective tissues. And the beauty of these cuts, such as the chuck or round, is that they’re readily available and affordable. The only downside is they need a lot of time to break down into tender pieces of meat. 

That’s where the pressure cooker comes in. Cooking under pressure speeds up the tenderizing process, allowing you to enjoy the flavors of a slow-simmered soup in just an hour. 

We found the soup needed a bit of a flavor boost from dried mushrooms to give it that deeply savory and umami-rich character so loved of traditional beef stew. 

And finally, what we love so much about this recipe, is that you don’t have to stagger the addition of any ingredients. So many Instant Pot recipes require staggering the addition of ingredients to avoid over-cooking anything. But this means you’re bringing the pot up to pressure and releasing the pressure multiple times.

Not this one. Everything goes in at once and each component comes out absolutely delectable. 

beef, carrots, celery, garlic, oil, broth, onions, herbs, lemon and salt measured out and set on a counter

Ingredient Notes

Beef Stew Meat

We prefer to use boneless beef chuck here, but you can use any stew meat available to you. Chuck is another great option. 

Dried Porcini Mushrooms

Adding dried mushrooms to the soup enhances the perceived savoriness of the soup with loads of umami glutamates. Most packages of dried porcini mushrooms are sold as ½ ounce containers, so you’ll just need one. They are pricey, but they do add tons of flavor. You can find them in the produce section of your grocery store. 

Pearled Barley 

Look for pearled barley in the dried bean and grain aisle of your grocery store. We like Arrowhead Mills and Bob’s Red Mill. Just make sure you’re using pearled barley as it’s quicker cooking than hulled barley. 

Instant Pot Soup Recipes to Try

beef, barley and vegetable soup in a shallow white bowl

FAQs

What’s the difference between pearled barley and hulled barley?

Hulled barley, or “barley groats,” has had the indigestible outer husks removed. On the other hand, pearl barley, or “pearled barley,” has had both outer husks and bran removed. Pearl barley is slightly less chewy and nutritions due to the bran being removed, but it is quicker cooking than hulled. Both varieties are delicious, chewy and high-fiber whole grain options.

Should I use dry or fresh bay leaves?

We intentionally didn’t specify because you can use either! If you have the luxury of having fresh, use those. Otherwise, look for some quality dried bay leaves. We really like Morton and Basset’s Dried Bay Leaves

What can I use instead of dried mushroom?

There really is no substitution. But if you choose to skip them, we recommend adding a splash of Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce to the soup right before serving. Start with a tablespoon and adjust to taste as needed.

How should I store leftovers?

Let the soup cool completely then transfer to airtight containers and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can also store the soup in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Reheat the leftovers over low heat on the stovetop.

Variations on This Recipe

  • In addition to the bay leaf, add fresh or dried thyme for even more wintery flavor.
  • If you like potatoes in your beef stew, add a can of diced tomatoes.
  • Add potatoes! We recommend using peeled Yukon gold potatoes and cutting them into large 1-inch chunks.

Watch How to Make It

Instant Pot Beef & Barley Soup Recipe

Print Recipe
4 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Come to pressure 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Yield 4 servings
Category Soup
Cuisine American

Description

A quick and cozy beef and barley soup recipe to keep on rotation through the cooler months. Tender chunks of beef, large bites of veggies and chewy barley swim around in an umami-rich broth that's worth slurping every drop.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck, visible fat trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Morton kosher salt
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 large carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ ounces dried porcini mushrooms, finely chopped (¼ cup)
  • cup pearled barley, rinsed
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth or beef broth
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley and/or dill

Instructions

  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Instant Pot on sauté function. Pat beef dry with paper towels; season with 1 teaspoon salt. Add half of beef in an even layer and cook until browned on all sides, 6–8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to a bowl. Add remaining tablespoon oil to reserved drippings, repeat browning with remaining beef, cooking 6 minutes. Transfer beef to bowl.
    chunks of beef cooking in an instant pot
  • Add onion, garlic and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to drippings; cook 4 minutes.
    onions cooking in an instant pot
  • Stir in carrots, celery, bay leaves, porcini and barley.
    onions, carrots, celery and a bay leaf cooking in an instant pot
  • Stir in borth, browned beef and any accumulated juices.
    vegetables and broth cooking in an instant pot
  • Lock lid in place and turn pressure release valve to "sealing". Select high pressure cook function and cook for 25 minutes. Turn off Instant Pot and quick-release pressure. Carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you.
  • Using a wide shallow spoon, skip excess grease from surface of stew.
  • Season with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and fresh dill and parsley. Season with salt to taste.
  • Top each serving with minced lemon zest.

Notes

We recommend using a 6-quart or larger Instant Pot.
A 2-pound boneless beef chunk should weigh at least 1 ½ pounds once trimmed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 recipeCalories: 530kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 51gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 109mgSodium: 876mgFiber: 8gSugar: 5g
Keywords Instant Pot beef and barley soup
Did you make this recipe?Leave a comment below and tag @ZestfulKitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #zestfulkitchen!
beef, barley and vegetable soup in a shallow white bowl

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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