If you’re looking for a hearty and flavorful soup that’s easy to make, look no further than our Instant Pot Beef & Barley Soup With Pesto. This delicious recipe combines tender beef, nutritious barley, and a variety of savory herbs and vegetables to create a comforting and filling meal. But what really sets this soup apart is the addition of pesto, which adds a bright and zesty burst of flavor to each bowl.
Looking for a soup recipe that will have you slurping up every last drop? Try this Instant Pot beef and barley soup with a twist!
So, what makes this barley soup so special? For starters, we’re using a tomato base that’s packed with flavor and loaded with all the good stuff your body needs. We’re also throwing in a generous amount of fresh spinach, which adds a touch of green and a whole lot of nutrition.
Then comes the barely – this hearty grain adds a nutty flavor and a satisfying chew to every spoonful.
And the beef? Well, that’s the real star of the show. Tender and juicy, it’s the perfect complement to the other ingredients in this soup.
But the real magic happens when we add a drizzle of pesto on top. The bright and zesty flavors of the pesto take this soup to a whole new level of deliciousness, and we guarantee you’ll be going back for seconds (and maybe even thirds).
So fire up your Instant Pot and get ready to enjoy a beef and barley soup that’s not just comforting, but downright fun to eat.
Barley – we used pearled barley in this recipe, which is the type that cooks a little faster. You can use hulled barley too (see the differences below), in which case you will need to increase the cooking time to 5 minutes.
Vegetable base – onion, celery, carrots, and garlic – the flavor and aromatic base for any good soup.
Beef – you will need beef chuck roast, cut into bite-sized pieces, or any other stewing cut of beef. The cooking time will be sufficient for meat and barley to pressure cook simultaneously.
For the broth – wine for depth, beef stock for the key flavor, soy sauce for extra umami, and tomato paste for sweetness and acidity. There are also herbs and seasonings, plus a bit of extra water!
To finish – flour and broth of the soup are used to make a little slurry that helps to thicken the soup. Baby spinach is stirred into the soup once it’s cooked for extra nutrients and lovely green color addition.
Pesto – the fresher the pesto, the tastier it will be so you can either make your own or get a store-bought version. If you can find fresh pesto from the refrigerated section of your supermarket, that would be the best kind for this dish.
What Is Barley?
Barley is a nutrient-dense whole grain that is high in fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron, and other minerals. It has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture, similar to brown rice, and is used in a variety of dishes such as soups, stews, salads, and pilafs.
Pearled Barley vs Hulled Barley
Pearled barley and hulled barley are two types of barley that differ in how they are processed, again, a little similar to white rice vs brown rice.
- Pearled barley is hulled barley that has been polished to remove the bran layer, leaving just the inner kernel. This type of barley is quicker to cook, as it has a softer texture and now shell. However, this also means that pearled barley is less nutritious than hulled barley, as it has lost some of its fiber and other nutrients.
- Hulled barley is the whole grain form of barley, which means that only the tough outer hull has been removed. The bran and germ are still intact, which makes it a more nutritious option than pearled barley. However, the hulled barley takes longer to cook and has a chewier texture than pearled barley.
In this Instant Pot soup recipe, we used pearled barley but you can easily use hulled and increase the cooking time by 5 minutes.
You will find the full recipe with ingredients and nutritional breakdown in the recipe card below.
There are three stages to making this barley beef soup in the pressure cooker. The first stage is to saute the beef and the vegetables. The second stage is to pressure cook the soup. The third stage is to thicken the finished soup with flour slurry and add the spinach to wilt in the hot liquid. Pesto is drizzled when served.
Let’s break it down with step-by-step photos and video. You can use a 6-quart or 8-quart Instant Pot.
Step 1. Pat the beef dry with a paper towel; sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
Step 2. Turn the Instant Pot to Saute on More mode and heat the olive oil. Add the beef pieces in batches and cook for 1-2 minutes each side. Remove to a bowl.
Step 3. Add extra oil and butter to the Instant Pot and change the Saute setting to Normal mode. Add onions, carrot, and celery and saute for 3-4 minutes.
Step 4. Pour in the wine to deglaze the pot and use a spatula to scrape the bottom.
Step 5. Add the barley, garlic, tomato paste, thyme, paprika, chili flakes, beef, and soy sauce. Pour in the beef stock and water. Stir everything through and Cancel the Saute.
Step 6. Secure and lock the lid. Set to Manual/Pressure Cook and for 25 minutes on HIGH pressure. Once the cooking time is up, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure.
Step 7. Open the pot, add the baby spinach and stir the contents of the soup. The spinach will wilt into the hot soup.
Step 8. Scoop out 3-4 tablespoons of the broth into a bowl and whisk in the flour. Return the slurry mixture to the soup for the liquid to thicken slightly.
Step 9. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve in bowls drizzled with pesto and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese (1 tablespoon of each per serving).
You can use pearled or hulled barley in this recipe. For hulled barley, increase the cooking time by 5 minutes.
Fresh pesto is best tasting and is ideal for this dish, however, the pantry-stored version will still work well. If you don’t have ready pesto, you can make a very simple alternative by blending some fresh basil with garlic, olive oil, lemon, and salt, and add pine nuts and Parmesan if you have those on hand. Here is a simple pesto recipe. https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/fresh_basil_pesto/
This Instant Pot beef and barley soup is dairy-free except for butter, which can be omitted and replaced with extra olive oil. However, if you do eat dairy, a dollop of sour cream or some grated Parmesan is a great addition when serving the soup.
This recipe works really well with brown rice too. Timings and water ratio can all stay the same!
What To Serve With Beef & Barley Soup
Beef and barley soup is a hearty and filling dish that pairs well with a variety of sides. Here are a few options:
- Bread: Serve the soup with some crusty bread or rolls to soak up the broth.
- Salad: A crisp green salad, such as a Caesar or mixed greens salad, can add some freshness and balance to the richness of the soup.
- Roasted Vegetables: If you feel like adding more vegetables, options like roasted carrots, parsnips, and Brussels sprouts, can provide a complementary sweetness to the savory beef broth.
- Grilled Cheese Sandwich: A classic grilled cheese sandwich can be a satisfying and indulgent accompaniment to the soup.
- Crackers: Simple saltines or other crackers can provide a crunchy texture and balance out the soup’s richness.
- Cornbread: A slice of warm cornbread can add some sweetness and texture to the meal.
Overall, the key is to choose a side that complements the rich, savory flavors of the soup while also providing some variety in texture and flavor.
Storing The Stew
Here are some tips on storing Instant Pot beef and barley soup:
- Refrigerator Storage: If you plan to eat the soup within a few days, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Make sure the soup has cooled down to room temperature before placing it in the fridge to prevent bacteria growth. The soup will stay fresh for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
- Freezer Storage: If you want to store the soup for a longer period, freezing is the best option. Allow the soup to cool down to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container or a resealable freezer bag. Label the container or bag with the date and contents, and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Reheating: When ready to eat, thaw the frozen soup in the refrigerator overnight or in the microwave if in a hurry. Reheat the soup in a pot on the stove over low heat, stirring occasionally until it is heated through. Make sure the soup reaches a temperature of at least 165°F (74°C) to ensure it is safe to consume.
MORE BARLEY INSTANT POT RECIPES
Rate This Recipe
Instant Pot Beef & Barley Soup With Pesto
- 1 lb beef chuck roast boneless, cut into bite-size pieces (500g)
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 onion chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 carrot large, diced (about 1.5 cups)
- 2 celery ribs, diced (about 1.5 cups)
- ½ cup wine red or white
- 1 cup barley uncooked
- 3 garlic cloves, diced or minced
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp Italian seasonings or Italian herb mix
- 1 tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp chili flakes
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 3 cups beef stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 2 cups spinach leaves
- salt & pepper to taste
- ¼ cup basil pesto store bought or fresh
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese grated
- optional: basil leaves & extra chili flakes
- Pat the beef dry with a paper towel; sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
- Turn the Instant Pot to Saute on More mode and heat the olive oil. Add the beef pieces in batches and cook until browned, about 1-2 minutes each side. Remove to a bowl.
- Add an additional tablespoon of olive oil and butter to the Instant Pot and change the Saute setting to Normal heat mode. Add onions, carrot and celery and saute for 3-4 minutes to soften.
- Pour in the wine to deglaze the pot and use a spatula to scrape the bottom.
- Add the barley, garlic, tomato paste, thyme, paprika, chili flakes, and soy sauce. Pour in the beef stock and water. Stir everything through and Cancel the Saute.
- Secure and lock the lid. Set to Manual/Pressure Cook and for 25 minutes on HIGH pressure.
- Once the cooking time is up, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure.
- Open the pot, add the baby spinach and stir the contents of the soup. The spinach will wilt into the hot soup.
- Scoop out 3-4 tablespoons of the broth to a bowl and whisk in the flour. Return the slurry mixture to the soup for the liquid to thicken slightly.
- Taste for salt and pepper. Serve in bowls drizzled with pesto and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese (1 tablespoon of each per serving).
MORE INSTANT POT SOUP RECIPES
- Instant Pot Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- Instant Pot Stuffed Pepper Soup
- Instant Pot Split Pea & Chorizo Soup
- Instant Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup
COMMENT OR RATE THIS RECIPE
Got questions or feedback? Leave a comment. Made the recipe? Please leave a rating as it helps other readers to discover this dish. Your name and email are required to avoid spam comments; they are never used for any purpose or shared with third parties.