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Pressure Cooker Beef and Barley Soup |

Pressure Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • 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.
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: American