Rich Beef Barley Soup

Total Time:
2 hr 35 min
15 min
2 hr 20 min

6 servings

  • 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
Watch how to make this recipe.

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.

View All

Cooking Tips
More Recipes and Ideas
4.7 62
Wonderful recipes.  Used beef stew meat instead.  Added a can of tomato soup and a lb of sliced mushrooms.  Amazing and so easy.<div><br /></div><div><br /></div> item not reviewed by moderator and published
good item not reviewed by moderator and published
(this may be redundant post)   Added small can tomato paste, (2) cups cremini mushrooms sliced, (1) cup red wine.  Rounded out flavor to an already successful recipe. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I don't even have words for how much I love this recipe. (I'm currently eating a bowl of second-day leftovers and loving my life.) It tastes so amazing, especially the second or third day, and it is SO EASY to make - perfect. Everyone either asks for the recipe or asks when I'm making more. Only change I've made - first time I prepared to make it, I could not find oxtails (and had never cooked with them before besides). Another reviewer recommended short ribs as a substitute.... I have never looked back. I trim off the major fat and use boneless - by the second day the beef melts in your mouth, it's incredible. There is truly not a more perfect meal for a cold winter's day. So thanks to you, Ina, for making me look like a hero in the kitchen! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Naturally this is very good. However, I really believe 1small change is essential !! HULLED barley or SCOTCH,or pot barley are all far more preferred over pearl barley.The reason is : pearl barley is the least nutritous,offers NO whole grain benifit at all b/c the pearling process strips the grain. You can find quality barleys hullud ( alo called hulless barley)in some grocery stores, but natural stores are a much better bet. If your going to spend the bucks for ox tails...then it makes sense to get the most nutritional bang for your buck too. Just google pearl barley vs hulled barley to ck out this info. As for the recipe, I usally sub onion in place of leaks..I use homemade or semi home made stock. If money is short, I use lean stew meat plus some bones. I often brown the stew meat., and deglaze the pan w/ wine or stock. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This recipe is AWESOME! I cut it by half and still had plenty to freeze. My first time using oxtails, they enriched my homemade beef stock beautifully yet still kept the soup light. Once the soup was done I shredded the meat from the tails and mixed it back in the pot. I am beyond pleased with this recipe item not reviewed by moderator and published
Hubs and I love this soup. I like to make and freeze a lot of soup and stock in summer while on break from my teaching job and my garden is producing. This recipe looked like it would freeze well. We buy our beef in bulk locally and had the tail from that. My Buying partner wanted nothing to dowith the tail. I had a bowl even before the fat was removed and it was excellent I discard the oxtail without bothering without trying to remove any meat. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Wow, I've been making beef barley soup for 20 years, but following this recipe I think this is the best batch I've ever made. The only thing I did differently was I added a slice of beef shank, cut up and browned after the oxtails, because I know how hard it is to get the meat off the oxtails. It smelled so good I had a big bowl for lunch, before I put it in the fridge overnight to defat. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Delicious and easy to make. Didn't have oxtails so used a good stew meat. Awesome flavor! Thanks again, Ina! item not reviewed by moderator and published
5 stars for easy prep...but I needed to doctor this up with a few things--a few healthy dashes of Worcestershire and Maggi sauce, 12 oz of tomato sauce I had leftover, and kitchen bouquet. I made the barley a day ahead to save time today. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This review has been deleted item not reviewed by moderator and deleted
I love this soup! I made this last year as well. I used the ribs left over from my Christmas rib roast - even though they were already cooked. Just browned them as suggested. A great way to use up what would have been thrown out. A hearty, tasty soup. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I doubled the recipe and since the butcher only had 2 lbs of oxtails, I added 2 lbs of beef short ribs. I also used LOW SODIUM beef broth--12 cans--so I could control the saltiness myself. My goodness this was sooooooo good! I allowed the soup to simmer for 2 hours to get the oxtails nice and tender. I then removed the ribs and oxtails after 2 hours, let them cool and shredded the meat from bones. After I did that, I skimmed the fat from the top of the soup, tossed the shredded meat back in and added the cooked barley. FANTASTIC. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Amazing! Added a dash of dried red peppers with vegetables and about a cup of red wine just before adding broth. Delicious. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Excellent just as written! It's a chilly day here and so decided I would make this for dinner. Didn't want to leave the house so I used leftovers from Ina's beef bourguignon and other leftover odds and ends in the fridge. Took the last 2 slices of bacon and browned them in a dutch oven. Removed them and then sauteed the last few carrots and celery stalks diced in the bacon drippings. Added some leftover mushrooms and onions from last night's steak dinner (sauteed in sherry and butter) and deglazed the pot with beef broth. Another reviewer suggested adding balsamic which I thought was a good idea. Didn't have any balsamic so I added about 2T of Heinz balsamic ketchup (great stuff). Added the barley and simmered until tender. Sprinkled with bacon pieces and OMG! Served with refrigerator flaky biscuits and a nice green salad. Really warmed everyone's tummy and soul! I love Ina - and I love reading the other reviews because they offer so many great suggestions! Good job team foodie! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Amazing and even more amazing was the left over gravy from Ina's home pot roast that I added to the soup. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Fabulous!! Our first adventure making homemade soup for my husband and I and this soup is a stellar success. We browned stew meat as some reviewers suggested and like the additional meat. This will be among our favorite recipes. Crusty french bread with butter makes a perfect meal. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Excellent soup / stew! Haven't made it with ox tails before and it was outstanding. Easy, relatively quick and hearty. Did add some braised chucks of beef in addition to the oxtails as they needed to cook longer and were best too add depth to the flavor. Will definitely make this again. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Excellent, as usual! Does she have a bad recipe? Just use short ribs, you will not be disappointed. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I don't even eat beef but this soup was excellent. I could only find stew meat &amp; neck bones, but the meat was very flavorful. Added crimini mushrooms for extra flavor. This is definitely perfect for a cold winter day with some crusty bread and a glass of red wine. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I thought this was a great recipe. The flavor is fantastic. I did get the oxtail. Used half of that package as it was expensive and froze the rest, and also bought a package of stew meat and froze half that. I cut the meat for the soup in smaller peices. Because of the stew meat I let that simmer in the broth for 2.5 hours before adding the barley, so it ended up being almost 3 hours of cooking. And because I felt the ox meat was very tough, my dog got the smaller pieces. This soup yielded 5 pint and 1 qt freezer containers. Next time I'll use a llittle less barley, maybe 2/3-3/4 cup instead. item not reviewed by moderator and published bought oxtails for $5.00 lbs and you thought that was expensive? I passed on the ox tails at Winn Dixie @ 8.99 per lbs. Made this last eve and used a blade pot roast. Amazing taste. Just make sure you trim the fat off your roast and brown really well. Cooked in a french oven @300 for 90 min. I added the barley the last 20 min. Rich deep flavor and not greasy at all. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I followed this recipe almost to the hilt; substituted ox tail with short ribs and added sliced cremini mushrooms to make the soup even meatier! The richness of this soup rendered from the fat off the short ribs is what makes it so hearty and delicious! Ina never fails to deliver &amp;#60;3 item not reviewed by moderator and published
Used stew beef instead of oxtails as they are much cheaper than the tails and easier to find (chuck for the fat and flavor and browned the meat first. Skimmed the fat off the next day and then made it with the barley directly in the broth and I also sautéed my veggies in a little oil with some minced garlic and then added those to the broth with the beef and the barley and simmered for about 45 minutes (used less than a cup of barley as that really soaks up too much of the luscious broth and served with a nice crusty loaf of French bread. Yummy! Also, you can use a pasta instead of barley. I make some acini de pepe on the side and add last minute to the hot broth so it doesn't get the broth starchy and also so that the pasta does not get mushy. Leaving the pasta on the side is always best for soups I find, even chicken noodle. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I am completely baffled as to why people thought this was fatty. What a shame that a reviewer even threw her soup out after adding and cooking the delicious and yes expensive oxtails. I used short ribs, still pricey but not as bad. I ALWAYS make soup the day before it is served, put it in the fridge and then literally take the fat off with my hands and toss it. This soup is FANTASTIC. YOU GO INA!! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I loved this recipe! I used lean beef tips instead of oxtail, added 1 cup frozen peas and 3 small potatoes diced. It was excellent. First time I've ever made Barley soup and I'm 56, lol lol. It is so good for a cold weekend. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I made a few changes, but it was delicious! I like lean food, so I used 1 oxtail for flavor, and 2 lbs lean, trimmed, cut up sirloin. I'll skip the oxtail next time, because the meat was so dry and tough compared to the sirloin, even tho I cooked it longer than called for by about three times. I prefer a stew to soup -- our main course, so I only used 6 cups of broth, and I dredged the meat in flour and browned it before cooking. Later, I browned the veggies, too. I also omitted the extra salt and used low-sodium broth. It was salty enough for us. I used the slow cooker, and cooked the meat for an hour, and then the rest for two on high. My cooker gets quite hot, more so than most. I added much more broth for eating the leftovers -- it thickens on sitting, of course. It was wonderful I highly recommend it! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Amazing. This was so good I ate it for breakfast the next day. So savory and delicious. I took the oxtail a out before serving and tasted so beefy I didn't need them. Will make this again for sure. item not reviewed by moderator and published
When it's thick the next day; you know you've got a great batch of soup. I've made this ever since I was an adult it came from my mother's recipe. The only things I do different is I use a quart of my homemade stewed tomatoes and instead of barley (which I don't like I make noodles. It's my comfort food for sure!! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I made this last week. My husband said it was the best soup he has ever had. I only used onion, rather than leeks..I used the oxtails, which had fantastic flavor. Next day, had to add some water/broth since it was very thick. Still delicious. Am making a double batch Monday morning. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This is a wonderful recipe. For those concerned about excess fat, I always roast bones in the oven on a rack so that the fat drips off below. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This soup is phenomenal. I have never made barley soup before and followed the recipe. Love the oxtails because the meat easily falls off the bone. Thank you Ina item not reviewed by moderator and published
VERY GOOD used stew beef and added hot pepper flakes and turnips so good item not reviewed by moderator and published
This is a wonderful soup for a cold evening. I followed it to a T but had to use stew beef instead of oxtails. Paired with a crusty bread it made the perfect meal. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Loved this recipe (as did my entire family. The girls were hesitant with the oxtails and I will try short ribs next time. But the flavor was fantastic, rich, full and perfect blend of flavors. Easy to make. I did make this a day prior, let it cool over night in the fridge - took it out the next morning, skimmed off the fat and then let it simmer again all day. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I have always loved soup! Beef Barley with almost any vegetables is delicious. I offer a few suggestions, any kind of meat that is good slow-cooked will work. I am a bit confused by those who have said the beef shanks were too fatty, I have never had that problem, hey, maybe CA-beef is just leaner. Anyway, several of you have mentioned that the soup is better the next day, and it really is. Make the stock the day before, refrigerate and remove the congealed fat, now you have f/f stock and the meat ready to go! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I followed the recipe exactly but my soup was so fatty that I had to throw it out; it was inedible. Too bad. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Just wonderful on a cold snowy evening with the fireplace lit, a chuck of Italian bread and a big soup spoon. I do use the short ribs instead, There has never been a recipe that I have made by Ina that I did not drool over, even down to baked brussel sprouts. Such a genius in the kitchen, now easy is that? Thanks Ina for your talent. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Family keeps giving me empty containers so I can give them this scrumptious soup.....and of course, I am glad to make it for them. Oh yes, I love it myself. Ina, you are super and I get the credit! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Awesome! I used boneless short ribs and it came out great. We ate leftovers the next day and it was even better. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I have made this numerous times and do not use the oxtails. I purchase boneless short rib meat. It has great flavor and a lot less fat. I brown the meat after cutting it into two inch pieces. Remove the meat to a plate and proceed to sauteing your vegetables. Then add the meat back to the pan and simmer for two hours. Great. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Delicious! I made this with stewing beef though. It was so amazing! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I made this soup the other day and my husband loves it. I also added extra meat (mine was beef for fondue I think. Everyone is not so fond of picking the meat from the oxtails. Will definitely make this again. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I was looking for a beef barley soup recipe that I remember from childhood. Of course then it was probably from a can! When I found Ina's recipe I knew I had the right one, and I was so right. Easy to make and absolutely delicious! I made two changes; I chopped and browned some stewing meat to add to the pot, I wanted a little meat in the soup, and I also thought I would skip cooking the barley in water and added it directly to the broth as I had added extra broth. Next time I will follow Ina's recipe as the barley did soak up alot of the broth, making it a fairly thick soup. No matter, it is still a soup and so very, very tasty. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Simply amazing. In fact, it may be the best soup I've ever made - and I'm known for my great soups. When I first read the recipe, I couldn't figure out what made it different - most of the ingredients go into any of my good soups. On top of that, we couldn't get oxtails and instead used just over a pound of soup bones (all the store had. BUT. The barley made it magnificent, and the soup bones worked just fine (we took the meat off them after they'd cooked and it was jaw-dropping excellent. You can't go wrong with this recipe. (BTW - we didn't think it was fatty - probably because we didn't use oxtails. item not reviewed by moderator and published
What rich flavor! I followed Ina's recipe to the letter and the tantalizing aroma drove everyone in the house crazy while waiting for the soup to finish cooking. I was a little surprised by the cost of the oxtails. I tried adding some of the tail meat back to the soup, but the battle with the fat and bone provided disappointing results. Next time, in order to save a little money and add meat into the soup, I will render a single oxtail (about a half pound and add stew meat to the mix. item not reviewed by moderator and published
easy &amp; delicious item not reviewed by moderator and published
Delicious! So easy to make and even better the next day, and the next, and the next!! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I too didn't use the oxtails, just a pound of ground beef, and I also subbed the leeks with another large onion, and added a half pound of sliced mushrooms. It was a wonderful soup, it had great flavor and took a lot less time because of my substitution of beef product. Very good, I would recommend it to anyone! item not reviewed by moderator and published
EXCDLLENT soup! Oxtail was $10 a pound so I used soup bones. Leftovers the next night and sent some home to my daughter whose family loved it. Will definately make again. I learned how to make a really GOOD stock for freezing too!! I did Pillsbury French bread which I coated with olive oil, rolled in parmesan, rosemary and oregano and baked to go along with it!! item not reviewed by moderator and published
This is the best Beef Veg./Barley Soup that I have ever made. The ox tails actually had a similar taste to prime rib. If you don't see the ox tails out at the grocery store, ask your butcher, and they may be able to get some for you. My only suggestion, if you decide to make this recipe, make it a day before and refrigerate so that the next day you can scrape off the fat. Since I did not have beef broth on hand, I used 2 32oz. containers of beef stock, and 2 cups water instead of the 10 cans of beef broth. The only salt I used was a sprinkling of salt and pepper on the actual meat before browning. I think stock does not have as much sodium as the broth. Give this a try! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I saw this show and ran out and got the best oxtails I could get in my local supermarket. I did this a bit different,and it came out delicious. It was half way between a soup,and a stew. I did not have celery so I deleted that ingredient,and used a mushroom barley soup mix because I did not want a big bag of pearl barley. worked out great. I had not time to cook it for man hour in a half,so I threw it in my crock pot,when I came home from the city I put it on warm till I ate it. With a good thick piece of bread and butter it made the meal out of this world. I will make this one day soon. I have left overs for another meal. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I am not a fan of beef soup. I've been using a recipe my husband liked, but I didn't. But we all loved this recipe!!! We have an entire beef steer in our freezer, so I use our own meat. I used 1 package (1 lb. of stew meat &amp; 2 packages of soup bones w/meat. The meat cooked out very tender, cubed it &amp; returned it to the pot. Still used 10c. College Inn beef broth. It was very rich &amp; the barley added great texture. When I use salt I also use common sense &amp; taste as I go along before adding what the recipe calls for.It was real beef soup, no funky extra flavors. Thanks Ina, another keeper. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I can't find anything oxtails around my home so I bought a pot roast. I Quarted it and stuck it in the crockpot before I left for school with 8 cups of stock. it cooked for ten hours then I followed the recipe to the letter. Once it was done I save two of the quarters and put them in the frigde for later. Then Just sredded the other two quarters. It turned out to be one of the best things I have cooked this year. It was awesome and I have dinner tonight!!! : item not reviewed by moderator and published
I'm so sad to write this review. It is the first time ever that one of Ina's recipes wasn't a success ..for me and my husband. We found it lacking in the "rich" "favor" that promised us a Unami experience. It wasn't as fatty as I thought it might be so I skimmed the impurities off the top at the beginning of the boiling cooking time with the broth. Maybe that helped a bit. The other problem I had with the recipe was the amount of salt in it. For some it might not be a problem but if you look at it, it has 3 tsp of salt. Kosher salt has 480 mg of sodium per 1/4 tsp while sea salt has 500 mg per 1/4 tsp. Salt is delicious but do the math...this has double the daily amount one should have per day. Yes, it serves 6 but you're still having lotsbof salt. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Excellent Recipe. It is very oil. You must skim the top of the soup several times.(I used paper towel and laid it on top of the soup. Once this is done, what you have left is a very rich, hearty soup. I think it takes more than the 2 1/2 hours to make the oxtail tender, so I left the soup at a medium heat for 2 hours, and then added the precooked barley and simmered for another hour. Made a beautiful soup for a cold winter day! Thanks Ina! This was my first try with oxtails! My family throughly enjoyed it! item not reviewed by moderator and published
WOW! Read the previous reviews, glad I did. Couldn't find oxtails so I used 4 beef shanks bone-in and since I like extra meat I also bought 1/2 lb stew meat as a supplement. I used half stock (Swansons, both and broth low sodium. I added sliced cremini mushrooms with the vegetables and sauteed it. I added 1 Tbsp. worchestire when I added the meat,1 tsp dry thyme instead, stock and broth. Oh, the aroma! Glade needs to bottle this!. After the soup was done, I separated the meat from the bone. The stock and mushrooms gave it a little earthy taste. The balsamic vinegar I recommend using a dash of it in your bowl before you seat down to devour it. Using the balsamic would get lost if you add it while it's cooking. Note: don't cut your vegetable to small otherwise it would get lost in the soup. The next day the soup had the fat floating on top so I scooped it out. When reheating it, it tasted so much better. I would definitely make this again. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Abort, abort! I followed the recipe to the letter. My whole family turned their noses up to this soup. Too oily from the oxtails and a strong game flavor. Broth was watery and I'm sad. This is the first Ina Garten recipe that didn't turn out well. Sorry Ina, I'm still a believer. item not reviewed by moderator and published
very good my hubby liked it a lot and said it didn't even need any locatole(type of cheese, spelled wrong. That is a huge compliment since he won't even taste it without cheese. This time he did and he loved it. I followed the directions as I always do the first time and the oxtails really made it good. Wasn't sure I'd like them haven't even tasted the meat yet but it made the soup good. I think next time I won't use so much evvo it made it a little oily. I also cut the vegetables too small so if you read all the reviews DON'T DO IT ;- item not reviewed by moderator and published
Delicious!!! Instead of oxtails (store didnt have them I cut up a chuck roast and browned that. End result was so good, everyone went back for more. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Delicious! We followed the directions precisely; however, I just felt as though the finished product needed small bites of the beef in it. So, we pulled the oxtail pieces out after one hour of cooking and let them cool. Then we picked apart the meat from the bone and fat and returned it to the soup in bite-sized pieces. It was very savory and beefy when finished, but I felt as though the soup needed some "brightening" up. So, I added only one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to the pot, and that was precisely the element that had been missing. As the previous reviewer mentioned, cremini mushrooms would be an excellent addition to the vegetable saute. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Wonderful beef flavor and great texture with the barley. Also used reduced sodium beef broth and glad I did. Added 8 oz sauteed cremini mushrooms, otherwise followed the recipe as stated. Will make this again. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I wasn't sure about the oxtail, I really thought it was a beef part to throw away. Not at those prices! It was $5.00 per pound and the recipe calls for two pounds. What great flavor. Followed Ina's directions exactly, even though the barley cooking directions were a bit different than those on the package. The soup was excellent! Very comforting. I used low sodium beef broth and I did need to adjust the seasonings at the end. This was the first time I have cooked with barley and it will be a new staple in my pantry. Thanks, Ina! item not reviewed by moderator and published
OOOPS I forgot to mention this is even better when I add chopped portebella mushrooms and about a cup or so of red wine. A clarette or cabernet sauvignon seems to work best for me.ce I even added a few hot peppers( pablano and aneheim), b/ c my guests like spicy foods. That twist went over ery well also.For stock I like to use Emeril' beef stock, which I keep a good supply of in my freezer.....Huge booste up in depth of flavor item not reviewed by moderator and published
Thankyou for posting about the differences in barley! I never knew that. I will now purchase a more nutritious barley because of your information. Thankyou!! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I recently read that at least 1 article believes BOH kinds contain full fiber b/c the entire grain is high in fiber....???? Still, I err on the side of caution, when I can. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Why would you rate this recipe with only 2 stars when you haven't even made it yet? You're trashing the recipe rating! Cook and follow the recipe as it is, then rate it! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I agree.. ratings like this should be removed as they are not accurate. Cooks want to know how THIS recipe is, not a person's thoughts on it or doctored up version item not reviewed by moderator and published
If you cook something for 3x as long as it's supposed to, of course it's going to be tough. item not reviewed by moderator and published
It was in liquid in the slow cooker. item not reviewed by moderator and published
That's why instructions say to skim fat. Or better yet, put in fridge until fat solidifies which makes it super easy to remove. item not reviewed by moderator and published

Not what you're looking for? Try:

Sunny's Beef and Barley Stew with Crusty Pepper Bread

Recipe courtesy of Sunny Anderson