Beef and Barley Stew with Mushrooms

Although the days are getting longer, the sun just beginning to ride a little higher in the sky, the nights are still bone-chilling. Honestly, I never look forward to winter. But when I’m smack in the middle of it, I do appreciate its comforts—warm clothes, thick blankets, an excuse to use the fireplace, and a big pot of stew.

And I mean a big pot.

Heck, if you are going to go through all that trouble, you may as well make enough for plenty of meals during the week. This is one such stew, a hearty cousin of beef barley soup, but bulked up with carrots, celery root, and lots of mushrooms.

Beef Barley Stew

It’s a riff off a stew that Hank likes to make with goose, inspired by Russian stews he’s encountered over the years. The stew is served topped with sour cream, which when mixed in, gives a wonderfully creamy consistency to the stew with just a touch of tang.

Beef and Barley Stew with Mushrooms Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8-10

If you can't find celery root, you can substitute turnips, rutabagas or potatoes. Just be sure to adjust your cooking times—potatoes cook faster than celery root. Save time in the prep work by prepping the onions and mushrooms while the beef is browning.



  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2-3 pounds beef chuck, cut into chunks
  • Salt
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 1 pound button or cremini mushrooms, quartered if small or 1/4-inch sliced
  • 1 quart beef or chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 cup roughly chopped carrot
  • 3 cups celery root, peeled and chopped into 3/4-inch to 1-inch chunks
  • Black pepper
  • About 1/2 cup sour cream (around 1 Tbsp sour cream per serving)
  • Dill for garnish


1 In a Dutch oven or other large, lidded pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add enough pieces of the beef to sear in the pot without crowding. You will need to brown the meat in several batches. Salt the beef as it cooks, and set aside browned pieces in a bowl.

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2 When all the beef has browned, add the onions. As the onions release some of their water, use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle a little salt over the onions as they cook. Lower the heat to medium and cook the onions until they begin to brown, 5-6 minutes.

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3 When the onions have lightly browned, mix in the mushrooms and increase the heat to high. Cook the mushrooms until they release their water, about 2-3 minutes.

3 Add the beef back to the pot and sprinkle with marjoram. Add 1 cup of the stock and use the wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the rest of the stock and water and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot, lower the heat to low and simmer very gently for 1 hour.

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4 Add the barley, celery root and carrots, stir well and recover the pot. Simmer gently until the barley and celery root are tender, between 40 minutes and an hour.

Ladle servings into bowls, then top with a dollop of sour cream and a few sprigs of dill. Grind a little black pepper over right before you serve. To eat, stir in the sour cream.

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Beef, Leek and Barley Soup - from Smitten Kitchen

Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup - from Andrea's Recipes

Goose and Barley Stew - from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

Beef Barley Stew

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Showing 4 of 29 Comments

  • Greg Walker

    My dear mother-in-law makes a variant on her family’s mojakka that is very similar to this. She loves the barley, so it ends up being pretty thick with it.

  • Maryfe

    Looks like it’s my kind of soup! I can’t wait to try it. thanks for sharing this recipe.

  • Elizabeth

    Looks delicious! I’ll definitely be making this tomorrow to eat all week long. Do you use fresh marjoram or dried? And does the barley stay in tact? Could I sub another grain like farro or rice, or is the barley more of a thickening agent?

    Dried marjoram, thank you, I’ve made the clarification in the recipe. I think farro would be an excellent substitute for the barley. It has a similar thickness and mouthfeel. It’s also delicious. ~Elise

  • Oui, Chef

    I love the steroid treatment you gave this soup, it’s rich, chunky and wonderful. I might even toss in some diced fennel with the onions when I make it. – S

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