Sunday Soup: Slow Cooker Beef with Beans & Barley

Ahh, I love a good alliteration food. As we all know, fall = SOUP WEATHER! Although I’m certainly not going to commit to making soup every Sunday (mayyyybe if you consider various pastas “soup”), I do love making large, easily re-heatable dishes to kick off the week – that way, I have leftovers for lunch for at least part of the work week. Bonus points if they’re delicious AND healthy.

This week, I riffed on Katie Lee’s recipe for bean & barley stew – except I swapped chicken stock for beef stock, and added in some chunks of beef (slow-cooked beef = YUM). Oh, and I couldn’t find this elusive “bean mix” she keeps referring to, so I just bought a bag each of kidney, navy, and pinto beans and used about 1/3 of each bag. I rounded out the meal with a quick garlic baguette, and the result was super tasty and VERY filling (I just ate leftovers for lunch, and I may or may not be ready to crawl under my desk and take a nap).

This recipe was stupid easy to make, RIDICULOUSLY easy on the wallet (especially if you omit the beef as in the original recipe), and made the house smell like heaven all day long – a winner in my book!



1 lb assorted dry beans (I used kidney, navy, and pinto)

8 cups beef stock + 2 cups water

8 oz dried pearl barley

1 lb stew beef, cut into 1 inch pieces (any beef you’d use to roast will work here)

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 bay leaf

1 sprig fresh thyme

2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

3 cloves garlic; minced

1 bag fresh baby spinach (or 8 oz – my bag was 6 oz, and I feel like it was fine)


Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet until hot. Season beef with salt & pepper and add to pan in one layer; let sit for 2 minutes without moving. Stir; continue to cook for another minute or two until brown (not cooked through). Dump dry beans (no need to soak), broth, water, garlic, carrots, celery, onion, browned beef, thyme, and bay leaf into slow cooker; cook on low setting for 7 hours. When one hour is left, add barley, salt (if you add the salt in the first step, it may take your beans longer to soften, so I play it safe and wait to season until this point) and pepper and continue to cook an additional hour (8 hours total). Just before serving, add baby spinach and stir to wilt. Season with more salt and pepper to taste if needed, and fish bay leaf out. Serve with crusty bread or garlic baguette (recipe below), and/or a grating of parmesan  (this is what I did, and it was fantastic).

Garlic Baguette Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 450F. Grate 3 cloves of garlic into a small bowl using a microplane or zester (if you don’t have one, you can mash it into a paste with the side of a large knife). Drizzle in 1 TBSP of olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Cut a baguette in half length-wise; brush garlic mixture over cut sides of bread and bake until golden brown (about 10 minutes, but keep an eye on it). Dunk, dip, & crunch.


4 thoughts on “Sunday Soup: Slow Cooker Beef with Beans & Barley

    • jessigenco says:

      Thanks, Donald! Mine filled a VERY full 7 qt slow cooker – I’d say it would easily feed a family of 4 large servings with leftovers. If you need to feed a crowd, you can also add more liquid to stretch it (it absorbs a lot, and I’ve needed to add extra liquid to leftovers) – you may start to run out of room in the slow cooker, though 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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