Beef, Barley + Lentil Soup
January 3, 2012 Recipes
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This is, hands down, my favorite go-to soup recipe and by far my most requested!  It  SO easy, SO cheap and SO filling that it’s hard to believe that it tastes SO amazing!  The cooked barley gives the broth a thicker texture and it turns out closer to stew than soup.

I was in one of our local restaurants several days ago for dinner, and as we walked through the maze of seats to get to our table, I noticed a stocky teenage boy (who should have been playing football if he doesn’t already), chowing down on a massive, juicy steak.  He was across the table from the proverbial blond cheerleader who was munching steadily on her lettuce and lettuce salad.  Yep. Just lettuce. with some lettuce on the side.

Now let me first say: I’ve never been blond. nor a cheerleader.

second: when I went on dates, if he was paying, I got the steak.

not lettuce.

Why waste my time eating something so devoid of nutritive value (ie: iceberg lettuce) to only find myself ravenously hungry 45 minutes later (and definitely not if steak is an option!)?  The point of eating isn’t just to get FULL, but to truly FEED your body and give it the vitamins, minerals, fats and enzymes that it’s CRAVING.

And this soup does just that, which is why it has become a staple in our home! And as a bonus, there are ways to adapt this meal to be grain free and dairy free!

So take a look and add this to your menu soon!

Beef, Barley and Lentil Soup (serves 6-8 large portions)

(scroll down for soaking options, dairy and grain free options)

  • 1 lb. of grass fed organic hamburger (this is ideal, but if you can’t find a local organic source, then try to find meat without added steroids, hormones or antibiotics)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 Tb. butter

brown the hamburger and onion together in the butter, until the hamburger has crumbled and is mostly brown and the onions are transparent.

To the pot add:

  • 8-10 cups of beef stock (or chicken stock – both are good and add variations to the soup) (this will simmer down and get absorbed by the beans/grains, so you may need to adjust the amount of broth to your own taste and to cooking time.)
  • 1 c. lentils (rinsed)
  • 1/2 c. barley (regular, not quick cooking)
  • 1 c. diced potatoes
  • 1/2 c. diced carrots
  • 3-4 celery stalks, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste (and sometime I sneak in some garlic if I’m feeling like a change)
  • 1.5 c. chopped diced tomatoes (fresh is great, canned is fine)(add these in during the last 10-20 minutes of cooking.)

And that’s it!  Simmer the soup on low heat for 1-1.5 hours, or until the grains are cooked through and the veggies are tender.  Just before serving, add in the tomatoes (juice and all) and mix, sneaking a few bites to make sure you have enough salt and pepper.  (You can double-dip if it’s your own family. no worries.)  This is also one of those meals that is even better the next day, and is perfect for a quick lunch!

other options:

  • To soak the beans and grains in this soup (thus reducing the phytic acid and easing digestion) the night before you are planning to make this soup, add the lentils and barley (or beans/grains of your choice) to the pot and cover with water, covering the ingredients by about an inch, to allow for room to absorb.  This step also helps the grains and beans to cook faster, so it’s a win-win!
  • to make this dairy free, omit the butter at the beginning and substitute olive oil.
  • for a grain free option, you can omit the barley and use other beans of your choice.   The overall texture of the soup will change slightly –   If you opt for all beans, the soup won’t thicken as much, but the flavor is still fantastic!


  • substitute some weird grains that you’ve never tried before – this soup has such wonderfully rich, yet smooth flavors that it allows for a lot of experimentation!  I’ve tried quinoa, kamut, various rices and amaranth with wonderful results!


what’s on at your house tonight?


This post was linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways at frugally Sustainable, Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Simple Living Wednesday at Our Simple Farm, Recipe and Project Swap at Its a Keeper, Simple Lives Thursdays at GNOWFGLINS,

"9" Comments
  1. Hey Kels and Rusty! I am loving your blog! Hoping to start my own soon for my writing and just random stuff. If you can email me back! Jasmine, Santa’s little helper 😉

  2. Yum! Keep recipes like this coming! 🙂

  3. Yum! Thanks for sharing! There’s nothing like a good, hearty soup in the winter. I’m assuming this would freeze well, too. Have you ever tried?

  4. it freezes wonderfully! – and it makes such a large batch that you can almost get 2 meals from it! enjoy!

  5. Made this for dinner tonight served with a french baguette and wow… definitely going to make this one again… Thanks for posting!

  6. This looks so tasty! I love barley in soup, its such a hearty grain. I’m hosting a weekly blog carnival specifically for soups, stocks and chowders, every Sunday! I would love it if you would come over and post this recipe. Here’s a link with more information:

    I hope to see you there!

  7. Debbie, Thanks for stopping by, and yes, I will definitely pop on over to your blog on Sunday! great idea and thanks for visiting us! – kelsi

  8. I am a busy mom of 11 in Texas and so I limit my viewing choices from the blog hops to 5. For the last 4 weeks your posts have been 1 of my 5 – out of tons of posts and totally at random, but it seems that you always post something of interest. I have a similar recipe to this but I have sprouted lentils and barley on my menu for next week and I’ll be trying your recipe for a change of pace. Just wanted you to know I enjoy your posts. Blessings – Connie

  9. Connie, Thanks for commenting and checking out our blog! We’e SO glad you’re enjoying it and that you find yourself coming back! Blessings on you and your entire brood and enjoy the soup – its one of my favorites! -kelsi

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