a spoon scooping beef and barley soup

Beef And Barley Soup With Tomatoes And Corn

This post contains affiliate links. This means that I receive a small commission for items bought through some of the links in this post, at no cost to you. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting Gracious Cooking.

Beef and barley soup is a classic Scottish recipe dating back to the 18th century. Traditionally, chunks of chuck roast are simmered for hours with vegetables and barley, resulting in a hearty, warming meal. We’re bringing beef and barley soup into the 21st century by swapping the chuck for ground beef and adding crushed tomatoes and corn for more body and freshness.

Pin me!

This recipe is designed as a one pot meal to feed the whole family on a weeknight. Using ground beef helps you get dinner on the table without needing to cook for hours. This beef and barley soup is so cozy- perfect for curling up in front of a fireplace on a chilly evening. I just know you’re going to love it!

PS- Did I mention that there are two secret ingredients?

soup dripping from a ladle over a bowl


closeup of beef and barley soup on a spoon with a carrot


The only ingredient that is a little bit unusual for many cooks is pearl barley. The husk and bran has been removed from pearl barley, so it is softer and cooks quicker than hulled barley. Pearl barley can be found in any well-stocked grocery store.

There are also two super secret ingredients in this beef and barley soup – soy sauce and Dijon mustard. Both of these ingredients add lots of rich umami to the party, as well as salt and tanginess. Don’t skip them. Feel free to used reduced sodium soy sauce if you’d like.

You will need:

  • olive oil
  • onion
  • carrots
  • celery
  • garlic
  • ground beef – no need to braise a piece of chuck roast for hours.
  • tomato paste
  • Dijon mustard
  • soy sauce
  • water
  • beef flavor Better Than Bouillon – you can also use 6 cups of beef stock and omit the water and Better Than Bouillon, however I prefer the taste of Better Than Bouillon to boxed stock. Hot take. If you have homemade, please use it.
  • pearl barley
  • 15 oz can of crushed tomatoes – tomatoes really make this soup special. They add body and delicious flavor, rounding out the whole dish.
  • salt
  • pepper
  • a little bit of granulated sugar – this helps balance the acid in the soup.
closeup of soup on a spoon

How To Make Beef And Barley Soup With Tomatoes And Corn

  1. Dice and slice all of the veggies. Thaw ground beef if necessary.
  2. Cook onion, carrots, and celery over medium heat until just starting to soften. Don’t forget to add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Add garlic and ground beef and cook them up.
  4. Add the tomato paste, and stir. Add the soy sauce and Dijon. Stir.
  5. Add the water, Better Than Bouillon, barley, crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, and sugar. Simmer for 45 minutes.
  6. Add the frozen corn the last few minutes of cooking. Adjust seasonings if needed, and chow down!

This really is a very easy recipe. The full instructions are in the recipe card below.

a spoon scooping beef and barley soup

How To Store

Beef And Barley Soup With Tomatoes And Corn can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze this soup. Pour the cooled soup into a gallon sized freezer bag, lay it flat while pushing the air out, and seal. Lay the bag flat in the freezer for easier storage and re-heating. To reheat, either finagle the frozen soup into a pot, or thaw it overnight in the fridge and warm in on the stove or in the microwave.

beef and barley soup with tomatoes and corn on a spoon

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use fresh corn instead of frozen?

Yes. Cut the corn off the cob, and add it about 5-10 minutes before the end of cooking. This allows the corn to cook through.

Can I use hulled barley instead of pearled?

I don’t recommend it. By the time the hulled barley cooks, the vegetables will turn to mush. Hulled barley takes quite a bit longer to cook than pearled barley. If you really want to use hulled barley, I would cook it separately and add it to the rest of the soup after it’s finished.

You Might Also Like…

Follow Gracious Cooking On Instagram!

If you don’t already, please heat on over to the ‘gram and follow @gracious.cooking. I post previews of recipes that I’m testing, product recommendations, and silly life stuff. Come along!

Happy Cooking!


square closeup of a spoon getting soup

Beef And Barley Soup With Tomatoes And Corn

Gracious Cooking
This fresh take on classic beef and barley soup adds lots of vegetables for a hearty, healthy meal. The addition of crushed tomatoes to the soup adds body, and the two secret ingredients (soy sauce and Dijon mustard) bring loads of umami flavor to the party. Using ground beef instead of chuck roast speeds up prep and cook time considerably.
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Scottish
Servings 8 servings


  • 1 large soup pot I prefer a 6 quart enameled Dutch oven.


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil or other cooking oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 3 large whole carrots sliced – about 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups
  • 1 celery rib diced
  • 1 pound ground beef I prefer 85/15 lean
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce I use regular Kikkoman soy sauce.
  • 6 cups water or homemade or boxed beef stock
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons Beef flavor Better Than Bouillon paste omit if using homemade or boxed beef stock
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley if you want lots of barley increase to 2/3 cup.
  • 1 15 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels


  • Begin by dicing and/or slicing the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic.
  • Preheat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add two Tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and cook until just beginning to soften, about five minutes. Add a pinch of salt and a few cracks of pepper to begin layering flavor.
  • Add the garlic and ground beef. Sauté until the ground beef is cooked through. Add another pinch of salt and a little more pepper.
  • Add the tomato paste, stir, and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add Dijon mustard and soy sauce. Stir and enjoy the delicious aroma.
  • Add the water and beef Better Than Bouillon.
  • Rinse the pearl barley in a mesh sieve to remove any debris from processing.
  • Add the rinsed pearl barley and crushed tomatoes. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the salt, pepper, and sugar. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  • Simmer the soup for 45 minutes. This allows the barley to cook through. The barley should not be crunchy or very firm in the center, but it will have some chew to it when it is cooked. Add the corn kernels the last two or so minutes of cooking so they can heat through.
  • Taste for seasoning one more time, adjust the salt, pepper, and sugar if necessary, then serve and enjoy!


Store covered in the fridge for up to five days, or  freeze flattened in a gallon freezer bag for up to 3 months. 
Keyword Comfort Food, Corn, Ground Beef, homemade, Main Course, Pearl Barley, Soup, Tomatoes, vegetables

1 thought on “Beef And Barley Soup With Tomatoes And Corn”

  1. Pingback: Beef And Barley Soup With Tomatoes And Corn | My Meals are on Wheels

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating