Ground Beef Barley Soup – Kalyn’s Kitchen

This comforting Ground Beef Barley Soup is a delicious stovetop dairy-free soup with ground beef that whole family will enjoy. This recipe as written has 9.9 net carbs per serving, but see tips in this post to make a version that’s gluten-free and lower in carbs!

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Ground Beef Barley Soup shown in brown soup bowl

I know a lot of people love Instant Pot Soups and Slow Cooker Soups, and of course I like them too. But for me there’s also something so comforting about soup simmering away on the stove making your house smell good!

And I especially love making soup with whatever I find in the freezer or fridge, and years ago I made this Ground Beef Barley Soup that 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 if you haven’t tried barley in soup, I bet you’ll be surprised how tasty it is in this recipe! And if you check the nutritional information you might also be surprised that this soup tasty soup with just a little barley has only has 9.9 net carbs per serving.

Of course, a soup with barley won’t work for Keto or Gluten-Free diets, so if you need that you might prefer my Instant Pot Low-Carb Ground Beef and Cauliflower Soup that was adapted from this recipe. Or see tips below to adapt this stovetop soup recipe into a version that’s lower in carbs!

What ingredients do you need?

Want a lower-carb version of Ground Beef Barley Soup?

Instant Pot Low-Carb Ground Beef and Cauliflower Soup is a Keto soup recipe that was adapted from this recipe. Or to make this stovetop soup lower in carbs use fewer carrots and more celery and switch out the barley for 1-2 cups of frozen cauliflower rice.

Want to make this soup gluten-free?

Using cauliflower rice instead of barley will also make the soup gluten-free. You could also use regular rice if you don’t care about the carbs.

Ground Beef Barley Soup collage of recipe steps

How to Make Ground Beef Barley Soup:

(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)

  1. Start by browning the ground beef (called beef mince if you’re in Europe) in a small amount of olive oil.
  2. I like ground beef in soup, but I don’t like a lot of beef fat so sometimes I rinse the cooked ground beef with VERY HOT water before I use it in the soup. your choice on that.
  3. Another option for removing excess fat from soup with ground beef is using a Stock Skimmer (affiliate link) like this one to scoop the fat off when the soup is cooking.
  4. 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.
  5. Add the beef broth (or  and vegetable stock (or canned broth), dried parsley, and dried thyme and simmer the soup for 30 minutes.
  6. After the soup has simmered for 30 minutes, add the carrots and celery and simmer for 30 minutes more.
  7. Even though I rinsed the ground beef, there’s now a little bit of fat on the top of the soup that I’ll skim off with the stock skimmer.
  8. 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.)
  9. 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.
  10. Serve Ground Beef and Barley Soup piping hot and enjoy!

Ground Beef Barley Soup in bowl with spoon

More Comforting Stovetop Soups:

Weekend Food Prep:

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


  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 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 canned beef broth (see notes)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar (more or less to taste)
  • 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.


If you don’t have homemade beef stock, use 3 cans beef broth and a little water to make 6 cups.

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.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 270Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6.4gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 1541mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 26g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

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Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This tasty Ground Beef Barley Soup only has 9.9 net carbs per serving. If you wanted to make a lower-carb (and gluten-free) version of this recipe, you could use more celery and fewer carrots and switch out the barley for frozen cauliflower rice. Or check out Instant Pot Low-Carb Ground Beef and Cauliflower Soup for a similar soup that’s Keto. The recipe as written would be phase 2 or 3 for the original South Beach Diet, due to the carrots and barley.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Soup Recipes to find more tasty soups! Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This recipe was first posted in 2011. The recipe was last updated with more information and a gluten-free and Keto option in 2022.

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