Homemade hamburger barley soup is an easy stovetop recipe made with beef broth, ground beef, vegetables and barley.  Serve this healthy, low carb, and low cholesterol comfort food to your family for dinner tonight!

Prep Time: 45 minutes
person holding a bowl of hamburger barley soup
Soups & Stews

Homemade Hamburger Barley Soup

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This post was originally published on November 16, 2017.

Homemade hamburger barley soup is so tasty and comforting you’ll want to make this for supper tonight.  I first tasted this soup over twenty years ago at a friend’s house in my hometown.  Over the years, I’ve tweaked this recipe to make it more healthy without compromising the taste.

person holding a spoonful of hamburger barley soup

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How many calories are in hamburger barley soup?

1 1/4 cups of soup has 350 calories.  Hamburger barley soup is also high in iron and vitamins A and C.  For the complete nutrition facts, scroll down to the bottom of the recipe card.

Can I put uncooked barley in soup?

Yes, you can.  If you are using pearl barley, make sure it’s added at least 30 minutes before the soup is done so it will be properly cooked.  If you are using hull barley, you can soak it in water for 2 hours before adding to the soup.  The cook time for hull barley is 45 minutes.

For our recipe, we use pearl barley and add it in early so it gets the full two hours of cooking time.  Barley is done when it has tripled in volume and is soft and chewy.

person holding a bowl of hamburger barley soup

Which barley is best?

You can use either pearl barley or hull barley for hamburger barley soup.  We prefer using pearl barley because it takes less time to cook.

  • Pearl barley is more commonly used in soups.  It takes less time to cook because the outer husk and bran layers are removed.
  • Hull barely should be soaked for a minimum of two hours or overnight.  It takes longer to cook than pearl barley.

How should I store pearl barley?

Store the pearl barley in an airtight container and place it in a cool, dark pantry or cupboard.  It should keep for at least one year.

spoonful of hamburger barley soup in a bowl

How can you tell if pearl barley is bad?

First, look at it.  Is it moldy?  Has the appearance changed?  Are there bugs in it?  After you have run those tests, smell it.  Does it seem to have an odor?  If you can answer yes, to any of these questions, discard it.

What can I use instead of pearl barley?

  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Green lentils

bowl of hamburger barley soup with a wooden spoon

Is hamburger barley soup gluten free?

Our hamburger soup has pearl barley in it, which contains gluten.  If you would like it to be gluten free, replace the barley with quinoa.  Make sure your beef stock is gluten free by reading the labels.  Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce is gluten free.  To be safe, always check your ingredient labels to ensure they are gluten free.

How do you thicken hamburger soup?

  • Add more pearl barley.
  • Let the soup simmer with the lid off.

What is the best beef for soup?

This recipe calls for ground beef, but it can easily be substituted for another beef that is already cooked.  Some choices would be:

  • Shredded London broil
  • Cubed chuck
  • Flank steak
  • Roast beef

closeup of a bowl of hamburger barley soup

How long does hamburger barley soup last?

If you have it stored in an airtight container in the fridge, it should last up to 7 days.

Does barley soup freeze well?

Yes, hamburger barley soup can be frozen.  Allow the soup to cool completely before putting in an airtight container or zip-top freezer bag.  It can be stored for up to 3 months in the freezer.

bowl of hamburger barley soup with vegetables

Can I make hamburger barley soup in the crock pot?

You most certainly can. 

  • Start by browning the hamburger and draining the fat on the stovetop.
  • Sauté the vegetables in the same pot on the stovetop.
  • Transfer the cooked hamburger and vegetables to a crock pot, then add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir well and cover.
  • Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours, or on low for 8 hours.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.  Remove the bay leaves before serving.

How to Make Hamburger Barley Soup

Gather all the ingredients.  Chop up the onions, carrots, and celery, then mince the garlic.  Measure the liquids and the spices.

ingredients for hamburger barley soup

Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, then add the ground beef.  Cook the ground beef until no pink remains.  Use a wooden turner to break up the ground beef into small pieces for better texture.

Once the meat is cooked, drain the hamburger and place it in a large bowl.  Pour the hamburger fat from the pot into a bowl.

browning the hamburger meat in a pot

Add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the same pot and turn the heat to medium high.  Add the onion, celery, and carrot, and sauté them for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant.

stirring cooked veggies in a pot

Return the cooked hamburger back to the pot, then add the diced tomatoes and the tomato paste.  Stir until well mixed.

adding hamburger, tomato paste, and tomatoes to pot

Pour in the beef stock.  I used the salted kind.

pouring beef broth into a pot

Stir with a large wooden spoon.

stirring hamburger barley soup with a wooden spoon

Pour in the water next.

pouring water into hamburger barley soup

Add the dry pearl barley.

adding barley to hamburger barley soup

Add the spices: salt, parsley, thyme, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt, paprika, bay leaves, and the Worcestershire sauce.  Stir until well combined.

Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours.  During the last 30 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  Leave the pot uncovered the last 15 minutes.

adding seasonings to hamburger barley soup

Before serving, remove the two bay leaves.

removing the bay leaves from a pot of hamburger barley soup

Serve while still hot.  This soup is thick and hearty, but feel free to add a bit of beef stock if you prefer a thinner soup.

person holding a ladle full of hamburger barley soup

Garnish this soup with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves.  It really gives the soup an interesting finishing touch.  Serve this hearty soup with a crunchy side salad like our Brussels sprouts salad with maple balsamic dressing and a thick slice of homemade white mountain bread slathered in butter.

Pro Tips for Making Hamburger Barley Soup

  • Drain off excess fat from the hamburger meat to lower the fat content.
  • Let the soup simmer as long as you can to let the flavors meld.
  • Taste the soup during the last 30 minutes and adjust the seasonings as desired.
  • Add extra beef stock at the end of the cooking time if you want the soup to be thinner.
  • Freeze leftover soup in zip-top freezer bags or airtight containers.
  • Don’t want meat?  Try using mushrooms instead.
  • Want more vegetables?  Try potatoes, cabbage, kale, spinach or golden beets.
  • Don’t want barley?  Try green lentils, pasta, quinoa, brown rice or buckwheat.

Our Go-To Kitchen Tools for Hamburger Barley Soup

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The pleasure of a 5-star review for this hamburger barley soup would be greatly appreciated.

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person holding a bowl of hamburger barley soup

Homemade Hamburger Barley Soup


  • Author: Brooke
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 10 cups 1x

Description

Homemade hamburger barley soup is an easy stovetop recipe made with beef broth, ground beef, vegetables and barley.  Serve this healthy, low carb, and low cholesterol comfort food to your family for dinner tonight!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (30 ml)
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground beef, 80% lean meat (566g)
  • 1 cup onion, chopped (178g)
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped (268g)
  • 1 cup celery, chopped (158g)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 6 ounces tomato paste (170g)
  • 28 ounces petite diced tomatoes (793g)
  • 4 cups beef stock (946 ml)
  • 2 cups water (473 ml)
  • 1/2 cup dried barley (103g)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme

Instructions

Stovetop Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven set over medium high heat.  Add the hamburger and cook until all the pink is gone, roughly 5 minutes.  Make sure to break up the meat into smaller pieces as it cooks.  Drain off any excess fat, and place the cooked hamburger in a bowl.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and turn the heat to medium high.  Saute the onions, carrots, and celery until soft, roughly 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the cooked hamburger and the rest of the ingredients into the pot.  Stir well and cover.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for two hours with the lid on.  During the last 30 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings if desired.  Leave the lid off for the last 15 minutes.  Remember to remove the two bay leaves before serving.
  4. Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves and serve hot.  Note that the soup may thicken when cooled.

Crock Pot Instructions

  1. Start by browning the hamburger and draining the fat on the stovetop.
  2. Sauté the vegetables in the same pot on the stovetop.
  3. Transfer the cooked hamburger and vegetables to a crock pot, then add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir well and cover.
  4. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours, or on low for 8 hours.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.  Remove the bay leaves before serving.  Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves for a finishing touch.

Notes

  • The pleasure of a 5-star review for this hamburger barley soup would be greatly appreciated.
  • 👩🏻‍🍳 Want to see our latest recipes?  Subscribe to our email newsletter to get our latest recipes, fun food facts, food puns, and behind the scenes news about our blog.
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: easy, homemade, ground beef

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4 thoughts on “Homemade Hamburger Barley Soup

  1. This soup is very soft and full of is one of my favorites, mostly due to the pearl barley. I would highly recommend this soup!

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