Beef & Barley Stew


Beef & Barley Stew is a simple family favorite — perfect for warming you up on a chilly day. 

I can’t even handle this right now… Cute overload!

Family weekend with my Grandma and Aunt in town was a success, but went WAY too fast.

Saturday morning we attempted to take on the Farmers’ Market, but it started drizzling the second we arrived so we piled back in the car and headed to the movie theater to catch a matinee showing of Argo.

Other than the incessant crinkling of a plastic shopping bag courtesy of the man sitting next to my Mom and I for the entire duration of the flick, we all really enjoyed it! The movie wasn’t as action-filled as I thought it was going to be, rather it was more dramatic, and incredibly suspenseful. 2 thumbs up. :)

Today we all reconvened at my parents house for brunch before my Grandma and Aunt had to head home. My niece, Evie, was dressed in her most adorable outfit for the occasion. She had this little black cardigan on top, but it was getting a tad hot with everyone at the house!

Great-Grandma and great-granddaughter bonded, then we all dined on an awesome crock-pot breakfast casserole my Mom whipped up. It had layers of hash browns, eggs, sausage, then more hash browns, and was ready in just 4 hours. I think we all had 10 helpings each!

I failed to take any pictures (fail,) but I think I’ll post it on the blog sometime soon anyway. It was so good, and easy too.

Whee! (Please check out how my little brother (who lives in Denver) managed to photo bomb the family pic from 700 miles away. Bahaha! Totally unplanned, btw.)

While the kids left a short time later to nap, and my Mom and Dad drove my Grandma and Aunt to the airport, Ben and I hung back to watch Felix Baumgartner sky dive from 24 miles in the air.

Please tell me you watched this?! That is pure craziness, right there. Ben almost barfed!

Afterwards we ran some and I got continuously paparazzi’d, as Ben discovered Instagram today and cannot be stopped… ;)

One of his latest snapshots is of me making tonight’s dinner of Beef & Barley Stew – an annual favorite in our household! Ben starts requesting this thick and hearty, yet extremely healthful, stew every time the temperatures start to drop, and I am always more than happy to fix it.

Lean stew meat is simmered low and slow in chicken broth with carrots, mushrooms, peas, and barley. It was a chilly and blustery afternoon, and this soup takes some chopping and simmering, so while the wind howled, I cooked then enjoyed a big bowl wrapped in a blanket…on the floor, as Ben is hogging the couch.

Anyway! Start the Beef & Barley soup by seasoning 1-1/2lbs lean stew meat with salt & pepper, then tossing with flour to coat. Brown the meat in a large Dutch oven or soup pot in non-stick spray until brown, about 5 minutes.

Next add 1/2 medium chopped onion (I cut mine HUGE so Ben can pick the pieces out) and cook for a couple minutes, then add 1 cup sliced carrots, and 2 minced garlic cloves. Cook for another 5 minutes until everything’s softened up a bit.

Now add in 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, then pour in 5 cups chicken broth, and 1 cup water.

Bring the stew to a boil while scraping up all the yummy bits at the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.

Next, plop a lid on top, turn the heat down to medium-low, then let the stew simmer for 45 minutes. Perfect time to do some laundry, or catch up on a book!

K! After 45 minutes, add 4 cups peeled & chopped potatoes, 8oz sliced mushrooms (sliced big so I can pick them out!)

1 cup chopped Roma tomatoes, and 1/2 cup medium barley (not quick-cooking barley.)

Barley is SO awesome to add to soups and stews, btw. It’s an extremely heart-healthy grain that plumps up while it cooks, getting really nice and chewy.

Place the lid back on the soup pot, and cook for 45 more minutes (this is definitely a weekend soup!) until the barley is cooked.

Finally, stir in 1 cup frozen peas, and you are set!

Beef & Barley Stew

Serves 6-8


Beef & Barley Stew is a simple family favorite — perfect for warming you up on a chilly day.


  • 1-1/2lbs stew meat, trimmed of excess fat then cut into bite-sized pieces
  • salt & pepper
  • nonstick spray
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced carrots (about 2 carrots)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups peeled & chopped potatoes (about 3 large baking potatoes)
  • 8oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup chopped roma tomatoes (about 3 roma tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup medium barley (not instant)
  • 1 cup frozen peas


  1. Heat a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Season stew meat with salt and pepper then toss with flour to evenly coat. Spray Dutch oven generously with nonstick spray then add stew meat and cook until browned (does not need to be cooked all the way through.)
  2. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes, then add carrots and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, or until softened. Add dried parsley flakes, dried thyme, chicken broth, and water, then turn up heat and bring to a boil, scraping bottom of pot with a wooden spoon. Place lid on top then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 45 minutes.
  3. Turn heat back to high then add potatoes, mushrooms, roma tomatoes, and barley, season with more salt and pepper, then bring to a boil. Place a lid on top then reduce heat again to medium-low and cook for 30-45 more minutes, or until potatoes are tender, and barley is cooked. Add peas then stir for 1-2 minutes until heated through.


Slightly adapted from Heart Healthy Online

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

The barley in this stew is the undeniable star, but damnit do I love me some beef & potatoes, too. I used grass-fed beef, and it was like buttah.

This soup gets better and better as it sits, and makes enough to feed an army, so freeze any leftovers or enjoy ’em all week for lunch. Enjoy!

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  1. amy 10.14.2012

    Glad you could have some nice family time! Lots of warm fuzzies between the family time and comforting soup :)

  2. Lauren 10.14.2012

    Your family is simply adorable! Glad you had such a great weekend with them.

  3. Adore soups! Yours looks divine!

  4. Geny 10.14.2012

    Great family pictures! Making this stew soon, looks perfect for this time of year!

  5. Centsational Girl 10.14.2012

    Ack! I can’t handle the cuteness! I miss when mine were that young, oh my, cuddle overload! The soup looks divine and your photog is fab! xo Kate

  6. Melissa 10.14.2012

    Your hair has gotten SO long. I bought some barley for the first time this week to make your Mom’s barley salad. Might have to try this next.

  7. Robyn 10.14.2012

    I recently discovered your blog and absolutely LOVE IT! :). I was wondering what type of camera do you use? Your photos are great!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.15.2012

      Thanks, Robyn! I use a Nikon D3000 (and my iPhone when I’m out and about.) :)

  8. Carole 10.14.2012

    How about the breakfast casserole recipe your mom made?

  9. Lisa S 10.14.2012

    Soup looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it!

    By the way, love the baby jeggings!!!!! Cuteness overload!

  10. Steven Hong 10.14.2012

    Wow! I love barley Soup! Just the thing for the upcoming winter.

  11. Trisha 10.14.2012

    Is Evie wearing dark jeggings?! She is SO stylish! Looks like a great family weekend, with a great soup finish!

  12. LeeAnne 10.14.2012

    Yum! I’ll definitely be making this. And you’ll have to share Ben’s Instagram user name. :)

  13. Is that an Ohio University shirt I spy? Very cool if it is, but if it’s just an Ohio shirt, it’s still cool. OHIO represent!

  14. AbbieD 10.15.2012

    This soup looks DELIGHTFUL! I do have one question though…is there a reason you use chicken broth as opposed to beef broth? Just curious. :)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.16.2012

      Ben and I just prefer the taste of chicken – you could totally use beef if you wanted though!

  15. Heather 10.15.2012

    This is totally off topic, but my little brother just moved to Des Moines, IA and we are driving down to visit him this weekend. I was wondering if you could recommend some fun hiking trails and restaurants in the area. We have a full 24hrs on Saturday that we will need to fill so any recommendations would be greatly appreciated :-)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.16.2012

      Ledges State Park should still have a bunch of pretty leaves, and is a super fun day of hiking. Also the downtown Farmers’ Market is still going for a few more weeks. Here are my fave restaurants in the area!

      Sushi: Miyabi 9 (my favorite restaurant in Des Moines)
      Mexican: Monterrey (The best. EVER!)
      BBQ: Smokey D’s (go to the original NW 2nd location and get the burnt ends)
      Urban Italian: Centro (their pizza is the best)
      Old school Italian deli: B&B Grocery (best sandwiches in the Midwest – get Zach’s Killer Sub)
      Thai: Cool Basil (can’t go wrong with anything on the menu)
      Good bar food (with a view of downtown, the river, and the ball park): Mullets (great pizza)

  16. Tracy 10.15.2012

    I’m making a Christmas list and I can’t remember what brand your stock pot is, can you remind me? :)

  17. Emily 10.15.2012

    Your niece is TOO precious! <3

  18. Lindsey 10.15.2012

    Your family is so beautiful! Hope you have a great week!

  19. This looks so hearty and comforting. Yummmm.

  20. denise 10.15.2012

    O.K. several things….first, I love you and your blog–and your many recipes. The fam photos were great, and makes me want to do something to get the family together again…super soon. A couple of questions-and one totally unrelated to food, so please bare with me! Why chicken stock instead of beef, what is the brand of your beautiful pot and…get ready….what kind of blanket is the one in the photo with polka dots. I am looking to buy a few, but only have found some thin, fleece looking ones. Yours looks thick, plush and exactly what I want. Can you find out from dear mom and let me know ??

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.16.2012

      I used chicken because Ben and I like the taste a bit better, my pot is a Calphalon, and I think my Mom got that blanket at Target! :)

  21. Jennie Morton 10.16.2012

    I totally understand Ben’s distain for onions, but I’ve found a trick – puree the suckers as a soup base. Take four onions, slice, and simmer in four cups of stock until tender. Then throw them into the blender/food processor and divide the liquid between four containers. I freeze them and then pop them out whenever I have a soup recipe that calls for an onion. Still get the nutritional benefits without having to pick out every slice :)

  22. Denise 10.20.2012

    I recently discovered your blog and absolutely love it! So many great recipes and love the photos! I love the wooden bowl “holders” that you used for this soup? Is that what they are and if so where did you find them?

    • Iowa Girl Eats 10.21.2012

      Thanks Denise! I was actually sent that wooden bowl from a company, but I think I’m seen something similar at Pier 1!

  23. Sadye 11.05.2012

    Just made this soup and give it two thumbs up! I’m a pretty novice cook, but everything did come together nice and smooth. And it definitely made enough to feed an army.

  24. […] is all about family and friends together and I adore this shot by Iowa Girl Eats, those grandma hands holding this sweet baby?  Picture = 1,000 […]

  25. […] Saturday: Beef & Barley Stew […]

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