Ina Garten Beef Barley Soup Recipe

Ina Garten’s beef barley soup is a warm, comforting dish that feels like home and is perfect on a cold day!

The savoury flavours from the bone broth are absorbed into the vegetables and barley and the oxtail provides its own distinctive meaty flavour throughout the entire dish.

Ina’s version of beef and barley soup is a chunky broth soup, as opposed to a thick and hearty soup.

Because it is more brothy (not a real word but I think you know what I mean), it can be served on its own as a starter and wont ruin your appetite. The vegetables, barley and oxtail deliver the full flavor of the bone broth but wont typically feel like a full meal (unless your bowl is huge).

If you want to make it more of a meal you could reduce the amount of broth and increase the other ingredients to make it chunkier, but you will lose the essence of the dish. I have some suggestions on what you can serve with this dish below.

If you are after a chunkier, thick hearty beef soup, you could opt for one of Ina Garten’s beef stew recipes or try Ina’s take on a classic French dish, beef bourguignon.

Types Of Beef You Can Use To Make Ina’s Beef Barley Soup

Ina Garten’s recipe calls for beef oxtails! It might be difficult to get oxtail, or you might need to pre-order from your butcher. Any good butcher should be able to get them and prepare them for you, ready for cooking.

If you cant get oxtail, you could use any cut that will go tender and fall apart with slow cooking. Here are some other beef cuts to make Ina’s beef barley soup:

  • Beef Brisket
  • Beef Stew Meat
  • Beef Neck
  • Beef Shoulder

I love the flavor you get making The Barefoot Contessa’s barley beef soup the original way with oxtail. Oxtails give you a distinctive taste which is difficult to replicate with other cuts. Rest assured, you can still achieve great results with other meat options.

Ina Garten’s Barley And Beef Soup Recipe Tips 

There are some key things you need to know about making this brothy hearty meaty soup.

Here are some crucial things to keep in mind:

  • Brown the meat. This step involves heating oil in your pan and frying the oxtail on all sides until browned. This helps remove excess fat as well as release flavor to your dish. The vegetables are cooked later in the fat that the beef has released when it is browned. Do not miss this step.
  • Cook the meat low and slow! Do not rush this, the oxtail will need to simmer for a minimum of an hour and a half, otherwise they can be quite tough. The bigger pieces will generally be more tender and ready to fall off the bone, compared to the smaller pieces. This might be because the larger pieces have higher levels of fats and connective tissues which break down during the cooking process.
  • Cook the barley separately. A big mistake many people make is to throw everything in a pot and simmer it all together. Barley needs 30-40 minutes or so to be cooked, whilst beef can take up to an hour if not longer. The barley is cooked separately, and then added to the pot of softened stewed meat toward the end of the cooking process.

Serving The Soup: Ideas & Recommendations

Although the soup is perfectly fine to be eaten on its own, I love having other tasty accompaniments.

Here are some options I think work really well with this soup:

  1. Buttered Bread
  2. Mashed Potatoes
  3. Cornbread
  4. Cheesy Polenta
  5. Buttered Peas & Corn
  6. Chickpea Salad

I have a post dedicated to beef stew side dishes if you want to explore more options.

Barley And Beef Soup Commonly Asked Questions:

1. Should I Soak Barley In Water Before Cooking?

There is no need to soak barley before cooking it. I have tested both ways before, soaking then cooking, and cooking directly without soaking. The result is the same. I didn’t notice any difference.

2. How Long Does Leftover Barley And Beef Soup Last For?

If stored correctly, and refrigerated as soon as it’s cooled, leftovers can last in the fridge for up to 5 days!

3. How Do I Reheat Beef And Barley Soup?

The best way to reheat leftover soup is to heat it on the hob on low heat. Stir it whilst it’s heating. It should take between 7-10 minutes. With beef and barley soup especially, you will need to stir it, because the cooled soup ‘gels’ thanks to the collagen from the meat, so you want to ensure it’s warmed through evenly.

More Ina Garten Recipes You May Like To Try

  1. 12 Amazing Ina Garten Soup Recipes
  2. Ina Garten Roasted Sausages And Peppers Recipe
  3. 5 Best Ina Garten Meatball Recipes
  4. 7 Best Ina Garten Lentil Soup Recipes

Ina Garten Beef Barley Soup Recipe

Recipe by Barbara HuntCourse: MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time







Indulge in Ina Garten’s beef barley soup – a timeless favorite that’s hearty and delicious. A must-try comfort food recipe!


  • 2 pounds of beef oxtails

  • 10 cups of bone broth (Can use beef stock but if buying it, ensure you buy the highest quality possible. Homemade is ideal though)

  • 1 cup of uncooked pearled barley

  • 2 medium-sized leeks chopped

  • 3 large carrots, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 cup of chopped yellow onion

  • 1 cup of celery, diced into 1/2-inch pieces (around 2 stalks)

  • 2 large garlic cloves minced

  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves

  • 2-3 bay leaves

  • 1 tablespoon high-quality olive oil


  • In a large pot or Dutch oven heat the olive oil. Add the oxtails, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 10 minutes until the oxtails are evenly browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove the oxtails and set them aside. Do not discard the fat in the pan!
  • To the fat remaining in the pot, add the leeks, carrots, onion, celery, and minced garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until the vegetables begin to brown. Bundle the thyme sprigs together using kitchen twine and add them to the pot along with the bay leaves.
  • Return the oxtails to the pot and pour in the bone broth, along with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Once the pot is brought to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pot, and allow it to simmer for at least 1 hour. After an hour, discard the thyme bundle and bay leaves, and skim off any excess fat.
  • Meanwhile, bring 4 cups of water to a boil and add the barley. Let it simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Taste the barley after 30 minutes, if soft with a slight bite to it, drain and set aside.
  • Once the oxtails and broth have simmered for an hour, incorporate the barley and continue to cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the barley reaches the desired tenderness. Depending on the saltiness of the broth, you may need to add an extra teaspoon of salt and some pepper to taste. Serve the soup hot, with the oxtails.


  • For a mess-free eating of the oxtails, remove the meat from the bones and add the meat to the soup, discarding the bones.
Barbara Hunt


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