Crockpot Beef Barley Soup

This ultra comforting beef barley soup recipe is made easy in the slow cooker, which makes for incredibly tender beef and vegetables with perfectly textured barley!
1.5 Ibs beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 inch pieces
•1 – 1 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces (Yukon gold or russets are preferred)
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
•1 medium yellow or sweet onion, peeled and diced _2 ribs celery, sliced in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-1 inch pieces
L4 cloves garlic, minced _2 Tbsp tomato paste
_2 Tbsp better than bouillon beef base (optional but recommended)
_2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp kosher salt
_1/4 tsp black pepper
_2 sprigs fresh thyme
_2 bay leaves
_6 cups beef broth or stock reduced sodium
_2/3 cup pearl barley
If desired, heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet over MED HIGH heat. Add beef cubes and brown for 1-2 minutes per side.
Add beef and all remaining ingredients to slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.
Remove bay leaves and thyme stems and serve.

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