This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

No meat searing required!! Homemade Slow Cooker Vegetable Beef Barley Soup is perfect winter comfort food and just 10 minutes of prep!

Vegetable Beef Barley Soup served in a black bowl

It started with an article in the charter issue of Milk Street, Christopher Kimball’s new magazine. In it, there was a recipe for a delicious looking lamb stew and the recipe claimed that there was no need to sear the meat in advance.

From the magazine: “Searing meat for stew is messy and fussy—and, it turns out, entirely unnecessary. There is a time and place for the Maillard reaction (the high-heat browning of meat), but stew isn’t it.”

I already had this slow cooker vegetable beef barley soup on our week’s menu. So I decided to test the theory.

I’ve made this soup dozens of times and had always browned the meat ahead of time. This time I didn’t and, guess what? I couldn’t tell the difference in taste or texture. The only differences were that it took 10 minutes of prep instead of 30 and I didn’t have a dirty pan or an oil splattered stovetop to clean.

Vegetable Beef Barley Soup in a slow cooker

Vegetable Beef Barley Soup is a long time favorite of mine with its rich broth, melt-in-your-mouth beef, tender barley and ample vegetables – especially mushrooms. And with this method, preparing it is almost effortless.

More Must Try Soup Recipes

Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Slow Cooker Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 6 hours
Total: 6 hours 10 minutes
Course: Main Course, Soup
Calories: 385
Servings: 8 people
No meat searing required!! Homemade Slow Cooker Vegetable Beef Barley Soup is perfect winter comfort food and just 10 minutes of prep!   


  • 2 pounds stew beef cut into 1-inch chunks
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 cups slow cooker beef bone broth or commercial beef stock or broth
  • 3 ribs celery chopped
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 pound potatoes
  • 3 carrots chopped, and peeled if you prefer
  • 1 pound mushrooms sliced
  • 1 cup pearl barley


  • Add raw stew beef to slow cooker and season generously with salt and pepper. Add stock, celery, onion and garlic. Stir and cook on high for 4 hours.
  • Dice potatoes (cutting them up just before you add them will keep them from discoloring). Add potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and pearl barley and cook on high for 2 more hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.


Calories: 385kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 88mg | Sodium: 1196mg | Potassium: 1043mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 3890IU | Vitamin C: 11.3mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 6.1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Leave a comment & rate the recipe below!

Related Recipes

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. KevinIsCooking says:

    Veg beef and barley is Dave’s favorite soup! Now I love it too, but this slow cooker version is killer. I personally love to sear the meat first as the texture and caramelization suits me, but by no means is it necessary. Beautiful photos! P.S. With all the rain we’ve been having this will do nicely. 🙂

    1. Marissa says:

      Thanks, Kevin! You’re not kidding about the rain!! I saw a photo last week taken in San Diego and I could not believe all of the water…

  2. Sonali- The Foodie Physician says:

    Beef stew is one of the ultimate comfort foods. And this one looks delicious!

    1. Marissa says:

      Thank you, Sonali! And I agree completely…xo

  3. Karen (Back Road Journal) says:

    I appreciate your relating the background story and how you found that you could eliminate the browning of the beef. Your soup looks absolutely delicious…it has been years since I’ve made it. Thanks for your post and recipe.

    1. Marissa says:

      Thank you, Karen. 🙂 It’s fun to learn new ways of cooking familiar recipes, especially when it means a streamlined version that doesn’t sacrifice taste or texture.

  4. David @ Spiced says:

    Well now that’s an interesting concept! Like you, I’ve always used the theory that meat should be browned first…and even more so when going into something like a stew. I’ll have to try out that idea next time I make something similar. And by the looks of this stew, that might just have to happen really soon. This sounds delicious, Marissa! 🙂

    1. Marissa says:

      Thanks, David! It’s funny because with some dishes, it really does make a difference. Jambalaya for example, once I tried to make it without browning the meat and it tasted totally homogenous. I’m not sure why it works here, but I’m so glad to know that it does! 🙂

  5. Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary says:

    5 stars
    Hmmm, now I want to go test the theory on ALL of my slow cooker recipes that require you brown the meat first! Because if I can skip that step and still get the same exact end result I am going to be thrilled… and probably slap myself against the forehead and say “stupid me”. lol 🙂 Thanks for sharing that tip, Marissa! And thanks for sharing this soup!!! Looks amazing! Barley doesn’t get enough love so I adore that you used it here! So much flavor going on! Cheers!

    1. Marissa says:

      Crazy, right? I’m pretty excited about how simple this will make the soups and stews I make all winter long! And I so agree about Barley – so good! xoxo