I’ve been invested in the world of soups and stews lately. The soup recipes I have shared with you are all comfort food, a topic that’s close to my heart. Especially in the wintertime.
Of all the soups, gumbo has been the most memorable. I enjoyed making roux and cooking everything in one pot. There’s another one-pot soup, however, that I would love to share with you.
Beef barley soup is another one-pot soup that has brought me and my family some comfort when it’s chilly and snowing. And it’s even nice to have when the weather is just fine.
Malinda from Countryside Cravings originally shared the beef barley soup instant pot with tomatoes recipe that I’ve been using. I’ve adapted it a bit because some of the ingredients in Malinda’s version are a non-starter for our family. You can view the original here. It is sized perfectly for a 6-quart Instant Pot, which I happen to have.
Tips For Making Beef Barley Soup
What I love about soups and stews, in general, is their flexibility. I can tweak the sizing, add or skip some of the ingredients and they still come out perfect! Most of the time.
And this recipe for beef barley soup with tomatoes is no exception.
The soup’s base uses mirepoix, which is made by lightly cooking onions, celery, and carrots. Saute them slowly in butter or oil to break them down and extract their combined flavors without browning or caramelizing them. Rather than strain them out, which chefs typically do with other soups and stews, they’re left in the pot and mixed with the broth, beef, barley and other ingredients.
However, if you’re in a rush, you can buy a ready-to-cook mirepoix kit. In these kits, the onions, carrots and celery are already cut and cleaned and packed in equal portions. So you can spend less time preparing and more time cooking. You can do the same with the potatoes; a pack of shredded potatoes will do nicely for this soup.
Make sure to rinse the barley before cooking to wash away any debris and excess starch. Soaking the barley overnight may help shorten the cooking time although this step is not required for this soup.
If you’re thinking that using quick barley instead of pearly would also speed up the cooking time, you’d be wrong. Quick barley has been partially cooked and dried before they’re rolled into flakes. You might end up with soggy, cereal-like barley in your soup.
If you didn’t want the pearl barley to thicken your soup or stew, cook it separately first. Boil in water for 20 to 30 minutes and rinse before adding to the pot.
Questions About Making Beef Barley Soup with Tomatoes in an Instant Pot
Why use an Instant Pot instead of a slow cooker or Dutch oven?
This recipe was designed for cooking in a multi-cooker using the pressure cooker method. It can be cooked in other types of pressure cookers or in a Dutch oven, but that requires adjustments, which you’ll need to do through trial and error. And that takes time.
A slow cooker can also saute or sear ingredients, but the heat is so low it will take you hours to make a soup or stew. That makes a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot the better option. It uses pressure to raise the boiling point of water, which allows you to cook things much more quickly. And so, a soup like this, which ordinarily takes several hours, you can cook it in less than 60 minutes.
What about a Dutch oven? It’s also a great choice. In fact, I found two other recipes that used of a Dutch oven, but they use more broth or stock and chose to add more diced tomatoes. One of the recipes even chose to use V-8 juice instead of canned tomatoes.
Can you use a cut of beef instead of ground beef in this soup?
Yep, for sure. I use ground beef, but sirloin beef, chuck roast or stew meat are all great options for this soup. Cut them into cubes, approximately 2 inches on all sides, or you can have them cut for you at the meat shop. You can also buy stew meat that’s already cubed for you.
What can I use as a substitute for diced tomatoes?
A can of crushed tomatoes is a good sub, but if you’re looking for an alternative that would make the soup less chunky and help you cook it quickly, then tomato paste is also a nice option. However, you’ll have to add a little more broth and thin the paste a bit to adjust the taste and thickness of the base.
Do I need to sauté the meat?
Browning the beef before cooking the soup is recommended, but not required. The same goes for the veggies. You can do it by adding all ingredients together into the pot all at the same time and the soup will still cook beautifully. But, sauteeing the beef and vegetables adds a depth of flavor to your soup, which will surely delight the taste buds of everyone at your dinner table.
Can I freeze this soup and reheat it?
Yes. You can freeze it for 4 to 6 months in a freezer-safe container. When it’s time to consume it, let it thaw completely before reheating.Print