Grandma's Beef Barley Soup


- Linda Lyzenga

“Soup’s on!” It’s a call I love putting out to friends.  Sometimes a spur of the moment invitation allows for a cozy gathering on a mid-winter day. If the timing isn’t right, I’ll freeze the savory blend and we’ll take a rain check . One can’t go wrong. Sooner or later dear ones will gather and we’ll share the warmth of friendship over steaming bowls of soup. It’s so much fun when good folks step into my kitchen and say, “It sure smells good in here!” I couldn’t agree more.

The recipe I share below is an updated version of my grandmother’s beef barely soup – updated so far as how it is made – in a crock pot. Grandma always had this soup on hand. She would can it in quart jars and bring it to shut- ins or anyone who needed some encouragement. Dear memories of her kitchen wash over me each time I make this soup. It’s a time honored tradition. I hope you’ll enjoy making this your own. It’s a frequently shared recipe amongst family members and friends.

Having stood the test of time, there’s no need to make any substitutions or changes. Crunchy organic carrots coarsely grated brighten the broth. Chopped tomatoes (I like mine petite diced) lend a nice contrast to the dark, beefy juice. Homey barley – chewy, with that distinctive nutty flavor, puffed up just as nice as you please complements the texture of the main ingredient. No one will ask, “Where’s the beef?” in this substantial preparation. Using range free local beef assures that there will be no compromise in quality and natural goodness.  Seasoned with pungent onion, fresh ground pepper, sea salt and fresh parsley which balances the flavors, you’ll have a soup that you’ll want to share with others. 

The delicious aroma and flavor is the same as grandma’s – besting a familiar marketing claim ofumm, umm good. 

The loving intent is the same – nourishment for the body and the soul – an invitation for hospitality and community simmers along with all the wholesome ingredients which are listed below:

2 lb. beef shoulder roast - I use range free, local beef 

2 quarts water

2- 14.5 oz cans of organic tomatoes with juice

3/4 cup uncooked barley

~ 1/8 cup fresh parsley - chopped

1 chopped onion

2 cups grated organic carrots

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Cook the meat in a crock pot - set to low for 6-8 hours with the water, salt, pepper and onions.

Remove the bone - cut off the meat. Shred the meat and cut in small pieces.

Return meat to soup.

Add tomatoes, carrots, barley and parsley. Simmer for 1 additional hour.


Linda is passionate about wholeness and healing and finds her sweet spot in the role of Spiritual Director.

Married with two adult daughters, who have flown the coup – far from Western Michigan where they grew up, she’s home alone with her husband of 37 years. Linda enjoys baking, knitting, reading, writing, hiking and camping. At any given time while pursuing some of the above activities you'll find her camera close at hand.