Pressure cooker, Sunday dinner, Time Lapse Video
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Pressure Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

Pressure Cooker Beef and Barley Soup |

Pressure Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

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Even with this winter’s mild weather, I find myself craving soup. I keep running out of broth, no matter how much I make. So, here’s a batch of soup, starting with making the broth from beef bones. When I make a batch of broth, I always try to make as much as will fit in my pressure cooker. I can always find a use for extra broth in my cooking.

That said, this recipe takes time. Broth means a big pot of water, and water has a lot of thermal mass. A big pot of water is slow to heat up to pressure and slow to cool down. This recipe is meant to me made on a lazy Sunday afternoon – it is very hands-off – or across a couple of evenings, with the broth on the first night and the soup on the second.

I know a lot of people are looking for quick weeknight dinners, and this is not a 30 minute dump and stir recipe. Please, stay with me. This is old school soup-making, brought to modern times through the magic of the pressure cooker. Is it worth all this work? Try a bowl of this soup on a cold winter’s night, and I think you’ll say “Absolutely, it was worth it!”

Video: Pressure Cooker Beef and Barley Soup – Time Lapse (2:14)

Pressure Cooker Beef and Barley Soup – Time Lapse []


  • 6 quart or larger pressure cooker (I love my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker)
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Pressure Cooker Beef and Barley Soup |

Pressure Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 3 quarts of soup 1x


Pressure Cooker Beef and Barley Soup recipe. Soup made from scratch, starting with a beef bone broth. Perfect for warming up on a cold winter night.



Browned Beef Broth

  • 2 pounds beef bones
  • 1 1/2 pound meaty beef shanks (or oxtail, or short ribs – you want cheap and on the bone)
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and halved
  • 1 head garlic, top 1/3rd trimmed off
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 2 stalks celery, trimmed
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Water to cover (8 to 12 cups)

Beef and Barley Soup

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup pearl barley
  • 2 cups of shredded beef (beef from oxtails in beef broth)
  • 2 quarts of Browned Beef Broth (freeze the rest for use later)
  • 14– to 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Make the Beef Broth: Heat the oven to 425°F. In a large roasting pan, rub the tomato paste over the beef bones and beef shanks. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery to the pan. Put the pan in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the beef and aromatics and roast for another 15 to 30 minutes, until the beef and aromatics are browned. Scrape everything from the roasting pan into the pressure cooker pot. Add the thyme and peppercorns to the pot and cover the bones with water – 8 to 12 cups of water, or whatever reaches your pot’s max fill line. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker and pressure cook on high for 75 minutes in an electric PC, 1 hour in a stovetop PC. Let the pressure come down naturally, about 30 more minutes. (The water holds a lot of heat, so it takes a while for the pressure to drop. If you get impatient, you can quick release the heat after 15 minutes.) Scoop the solids out of the pot with a slotted spoon, setting aside the meat from the beef shanks to shred, and then pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer. Skim the fat from the top of the broth as best you can. (This is easy if you refrigerate the broth overnight; the fat rises to the top and solidifies, so you can scrape it off in big chunks). Use 2 quarts of the broth and the shredded meat in this recipe, and freeze the rest of the broth in 2 cup containers.
  2. Saute the aromatics: Wipe out the pressure cooker pot, then put it back over medium heat (sauté mode) and melt the butter. When the butter stops foaming, add the onion, celery, carrot, thyme, and salt. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Cook the soup: Stir the shredded beef and the barley into the cooked aromatics. Pour in the 2 quarts of beef broth we saved, stir in the tomatoes, and lock the lid on the pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high pressure (manual mode) for 18 minutes in an electric PC, 15 minutes in a stovetop, and then quick release the pressure. (Or, if you have the time, pressure cook for 15 minutes in an electric PC, 12 minutes in a stovetop PC, and let the pressure come down naturally, about 20 more minutes.)
  4. Season and serve: There is very little salt in this homemade broth, so you will need to add salt to season the soup. Add salt until the taste picks up – it goes from flat and boring to sweet and delicious. (I add at least 2 teaspoons of kosher salt to get the broth where I want it.) Stir in fresh ground black pepper and serve.


  • Use a 6 quart or larger pressure cooker. (I love my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker.)
  • Here’s the full version of my beef broth recipe: Pressure Cooker Browned Beef Stock
  • “Step 1 – Make the Broth” can be done ahead of time. The broth and shredded meat can be refrigerated for a few days, or frozen for a few months.
  • Can you substitute store-bough broth? Well, you *can*, but homemade broth makes for a much better soup.
  • Leftover soup freezes beautifully. I store it in 2 cup freezer containers. I can grab one, thaw it in the microwave, and have a bowl of homemade soup for lunch in five minutes.
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: American
Pressure Cooker Beef and Barley Soup |

Pressure Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts

Pressure Cooker Lentil and Bacon Soup
Pressure Cooker Thai Panang Beef Curry
Pressure Cooker Lamb Stew with Guinness and Barley
My other Pressure Cooker Recipes
My other Pressure Cooker Time Lapse Videos


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Filed under: Pressure cooker, Sunday dinner, Time Lapse Video


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Susan says

    I made this soup last night using a range top pressure cooker. Fresh beef stock, short ribs and aromatics made for a delicious combination. You’re right about the salt bringing out the sweetness of the stock. I don’t love using beef concentrate as it most always tastes muddy and synthetic to me. Added more carrots and celery to the soup’s finish to give me just what I enjoy in a spoonful. Thanks!

  2. David Seremet says

    The stock was fantastic ! Rich and flavorful. I did cook it on high for two hours, though. The barley soup is still cooking. Since I used short ribs for the stock I added browned chuck cubes to the soup.

  3. Susan in Last Vegas says

    My second time making this. (Yum!) This time i used some of the beef fat skimmed from the broth to saute the aromatics. I also started with a package of fresh sliced mushrooms. I decreased the amount of beef broth (which was REALLY concentrated.) And I used some of my (home canned) roasted tomato puree. It ended up being unbelievably flavorful and very thick. Just the thing for our blustery first really cold night of the year! Thank you!

  4. Rachael says

    I’ve never cooked with barley. Does it absorb the liquid the more it sits; like rice and noodles?

  5. Barbara says

    Well Mr. Dad Can Cook: You knocked it out of the park with this one. So delicious, So pretty. So-So tasty. The only non-issue is that I wish I had a fat separator at the time. The was bountiful grease. But-following your lead I put the Instant Pot steel insert in a large bowl of ice water. Within 10 minutes the fat had congealed enough for me to skim it off leaving only the deliciousness of the broth. My adult son who abhors ‘soup’ ate a great portion of it. Keep the Instant Pot recipes coming. It is basically all I am using at the time because of its versatility.

  6. Aaron Friedman says

    I made this recipe a while back and my wife complained about the beef being overcooked. Do you ever get that complaint? I loved the broth though.

    • For less cooked beef, discard the meat from the broth, and add a pound of chuck roast cut into 1/2 inch cubes with the barley.

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