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Classic Beef and Barley Stew

Hands-on time 12 mins
Total time 2 hrs, 38 mins

Serves 8 (serving size: about 1 cup)

A hearty combination of tender stew meat and well-cooked barley, this recipe is old-school comfort defined. It is perfect for cold winter nights and a satisfying one-pot dinner that will quickly become a go-to family dish. The grains get so soft that kids often think they are pasta. Not feeding a crowd? Make a batch and freeze half for another meal. To freeze, cool the soup to room temperature, and pour into a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. To thaw, microwave at LOW for 4 minutes or until pliable. Pour soup into a saucepan, and heat over medium heat 20 minutes or until bubbly and thoroughly heated.


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 2 pounds beef stew meat
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups unsalted beef stock (such as Swanson)
  • 2/3 cup uncooked hulled barley
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups sliced carrot
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Nutrition Information

  • calories 276
  • fat 9.1 g
  • satfat 2.5 g
  • monofat 4.9 g
  • polyfat 1.6 g
  • protein 29 g
  • carbohydrate 21 g
  • fiber 5 g
  • sugars 4 g
  • Est. Added Sugars 0 g
  • cholesterol 73 mg
  • iron 3 mg
  • sodium 439 mg
  • calcium 49 mg

How to Make It

  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add half of beef; cook 10 minutes, turning to brown well on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining beef; remove from pan.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion, celery, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup water, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in beef, stock, barley, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring mixture to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Add carrot; simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour or until beef is tender. Discard thyme and bay leaves; stir in salt and pepper.

Cook's Notes

Executive Editor at Cooking Light, Ann Pittman, explores whole grain's all-around awesomeness in her new book, Everyday Whole Grains: 175 Recipes from Amaranth to Wild Rice. This complete guide to healthy, hearty, and incredibly versatile whole grains includes something for everyone and offers innovative new techniques to ensure the most flavorful results. From simple, delicious sides to satisfying mains and sublime desserts, this James Beard Award-winning author educates, inspires and does not disappoint. Discover a whole new way of looking at whole grains, how they are prepared, and how they can be incorporated into a healthy diet at every meal.

Also appeared in: Oxmoor House, March, 2016, Everyday Whole Grains: 175 Recipes from Amaranth to Wild Rice;