Pure comfort food in bowl - that's what this Slow Cooker Beef, Barley and Mushroom soup is! Rich unami flavors from the mushrooms and the barley all in a creamy, warm soup.
Beef, Barley and Mushroom Soup
When I think of comfort foods, it's almost always soup. All you need in one bowl. No need to make this side dish or that side dish. So, technically the comfort begins in the making of the soup, easy one pan cooking.
While chicken noodle soup is the classic when you think of comfort food, don't forget the beef, barley and mushroom soup.
It's soup for your soul, it really is. Carrots, leeks and mushrooms cook up soft and tender. Browned ground beef and mushrooms add that earthiness. Barely cooks up tender, yet with a little chew. Creamy broth with no cream involved!
Ingredients to make Beef Barley and Mushroom Soup.
- Leeks - you can use onions if you can't find leeks, but leeks cook up so creamy in this soup.
- Mushrooms - simple button mushrooms or cremini.
- Barley - try to find hull-less barley. The hulls naturally fall off during harvesting, leaving more of the bran and germ intact. If you can only find pearled barley, that will work, but you might need to add a little more water or broth after the soup sits, because the pearled barley tends to soak up more liquid as it sits.
- Olive oil.
- Balsamic Vinegar.
- Ground Beef - you can also use beef chuck cut into bite sized pieces. You'll brown it the same way you do the ground beef.
- Dried Mushrooms - porcini seems to be the easiest to find.
How to Make Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup
Begin by soaking the dried mushrooms in 2 cups of boiling water. You want to cover them and let them sit for about 10-15 minutes to soften.
While the mushrooms are soaking, heat a skillet over medium high heat and begin browning the ground beef. Use a wooden spoon to break up the clumps. Brown until all traces of pink are gone and the beef has some darker brown areas.
Prepare the vegetables: Trim the leeks to use just the bulb and the light green part of the stalks. Cut them in half lengthwise and swish around in water to remove any grit. Lay them cut side down on the cutting board and thinly slice (they will be little half moon sizes.) Thinly slice the mushrooms and cut the carrots into 1/4 to 1/2 inch dice.
When the ground beef is browned to your liking, stir in the balsamic vinegar, cooking for about 30 seconds. Use your wooden spoon to scrape up all the browned bits. Scrape out the beef and bits into the slow cooker.
If the skillet is too dry, add a little olive oil and add the vegetables to the skillet. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.
Add the dried mushrooms and their liquid to the slow cooker, making sure not to add any of the grit that might have settled to the bottom of the bowl. Then add the barley.
Add 6 cups of water and the barley. Stir and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Right before serving stir in the fresh dill.
The Best Beef Barley Soup Recipe!
I've tried many different beef and barley soup recipes and this by far is my favorite. It is rich and creamy with no cream or dairy involved at all. I think the dried mushrooms and their liquid really add so much depth of flavor. The vegetables are tender and the barley is that perfect combination of tender with a little chew!
Looking for More Slow Cooker Beef Recipes:
If you love pho, and who doesn't, you're going to love making beef pho in the slow cooker! The slow cooker does all the work in making that delicious broth!
Beef stew gets a warming fall spin with sweet potatoes, butternut squash and spices like paprika and chili powder.
For even more follow my Slow Cooker and Crock Pot Recipes Board on Pinterest.
Slow Cooker Beef Barley and Mushroom Soup
- 1/4 cup dried mushrooms
- 1 pound ground beef
- salt and black pepper
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 cups leeks chopped, white and light green parts (about 2-3 leeks)
- 1 cup carrots finely diced
- 1/2 pound mushrooms cremini or button, sliced
- 3/4 cup barley hull-less if you can find it, rinsed
- 1/4 cup dill fresh, chopped
- Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour two cups of boiling water over them. Cover and let sit for 10-15 minutes to soften.
- Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Break up the clumps with a wooden spoon. It should take about 8-10 minutes to brown. After it's browned stir in the balsamic vinegar and use your wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits. Scrape the beef and bits into the slow cooker.
- If the skillet is too dry add some of the oil. Saute the leeks, carrots and mushrooms with a sprinkling of salt. Cook until they soften, about 5 minutes then scoop them into the slow cooker.
- Add the dried mushrooms and their liquid (being careful not to pour in any grit that might have accumulated on the bottom of the bowl.
- Add the barely and 6 cups of water to the slow cooker. Stir and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
- Stir in the chopped dill before serving.
This was originally published in 2011 and has been updated for 2019.