Ina's Beef Barley Soup

My mother made barley soup for as long as I can remember and when she was no longer able to do much cooking, it was my turn to keep my parents supplied with their favorite soup. I confess, I got mighty sick of barley soup as I made it for them for many years. My sister makes a great barley soup too (she's the world's best soup maker, as you've read here many times) and while I thought I'd never, ever! make barley soup again, after reading Ina's recipe, I gave in and decided to give it one more try. So glad I did. It's an amazing recipe, better than mother's, full of flavor and freezes a dream.

Please notice the bread on the side; I wrote about them last post HERE. Yes, it really is yeast bread from scratch, but baked in the little ramekins.


Ina's Beef Barley Soup
2010, Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That?

1 tablespoon good olive oil
2 pounds beef oxtails
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
2 cups (1/2-inch) diced carrots (4 carrots)
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup (1/2-inch) diced celery (2 stalks)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
3 bay leaves
10 cups canned beef broth
1 cup pearled barley

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Add the oxtails, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until browned all over. Remove the oxtails with a slotted spoon and reserve.

Add the leeks, carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the fat in the pot and cook over medium 
heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the vegetables start to brown. Tie the thyme sprigs together with kitchen string and add to the pot along with the bay leaves. 

Return the oxtails to the pot and add the broth, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of 
pepper. Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. 

Discard the thyme bundle and the bay leaves, and skim off the fat.

Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add the barley. Simmer uncovered for 30 
minutes, drain, and set aside.

When the soup is ready, add the barley and cook the soup for another 15 or 20 minutes, until 
the barley is tender. Depending on the saltiness of the stock, the soup might need another teaspoon of salt and some pepper. Serve hot, with or without the oxtails. (I removed the oxtails and cut off the meat, returning it to the soup.)


  1. Barbara this soup look so good!

  2. A healthy and comforting soup! I bet it tastes really good.



  3. Looks good for the cool weather we're having. Very pretty bowl too.

  4. One of my favorite school lunches (back when ketchup wasn't considered a vegetable) was beef barley soup. I haven't thought about it for years but now I'm longing for a bowl. Thanks for the memory.


  5. Love this soup..I add a pinch of sugar now.. an elderly lady ..a neighbor in Florida..did and it stck with me..Funny how some people have long and lasting influences on you no matter how small the detail or gesture.

  6. That looks so good. I am always looking for soups I can freeze. It's the perfect mid week busy dinner!

  7. Barley is so darn good for you. I think the recipe sounds splendid too but I'd have to make a smaller batch (my freezer is on lockdown until I empty more of it!). I will give it a try for sure as it is a perfect winter dish.

  8. I love beef soup with barley in it; I also love barley in turkey soup! This looks like a great recipe.

  9. I am on a soup binge and have it for lunch most days, sometimes for supper too. I may have to try this.

  10. I am a soup person and barley is so good for you. This looks very soothing and tasty.
    Have a great weekend!

  11. This looks perfect for the chilly weather we're having right now!

  12. The soup and bead look delicious! I love barley in soup, and a hot, hearty soup is just what I need today.

  13. What a hearty soup, I bet it would be winter perfect :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  14. looks so good and you were a wonderful daughter

  15. Hi Barbara, I bet the oxtails add great flavor to your broth, love this soup.

  16. Such a perfect soup for this very cold weather. xo Catherine

  17. If the recipe is Ina's, it's bound to be great. Looks delicious, and I'm always on the hunt for new soup recipes!

  18. Beef barley soup is one of my favorites! I don't have it nearly often enough, though I imagine if I had to make it a lot, I would get tired of it.

  19. Love how you breathed new life into this classic soup via Ina! Sounds great.

  20. Perfect soup there - robust and hearty.

  21. This is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. It doesn't get any better than a bowl of this one a cold evening! I love those little bread loaves too, what a cute idea.

  22. this makes me think of my mom, who would put barley in every soup she made, whether it was a natural fit or not. she loves that stuff!

  23. delicious soup! i love it!

    PS. I'm organizing a chocolate contest on my bilingual blog. Maybe you'd like to join us? :)

  24. It is certainly soup time. Here is very cold and the wind just blows my mind! I made a soup too, so if you lived next door, we would have exchanged soups haha! Looks warm and delicious!

  25. Ahhh the perfect soup for our chilly, rainy weather this week! Thanks for sharing, Barbara, and I will also check out the fabulous bread recipe. Love the idea of baking it in ramekins!



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