Beef and Barley Stew with Mushrooms

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.

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


  • 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 Sear the beef: In a large, thick-bottomed 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.


2 Sauté the onions: 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 Add the mushrooms: 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 back beef, add marjoram, stock, water, then simmer: 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 barley, celery root, carrots, continue to simmer: 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.

5 Serve with sour cream and dill: 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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  • Camille

    I have made this a few times and my husband loves it. I have a comment for Michelle. I too had anxiety about burning the meat. So, the next time I prepared the stew, I preheated Dutch oven to medium-low, instead of medium and sprayed pan with a canola oil each time I added a batch of meat to brown. Worked great. Keeping heat lower once the pan was hot did the trick. All scrapings came up nicely without being burned.

  • Michelle

    I’ve made this stew many times-it is extremely delicious and not easily messed up :). A few things I always have trouble with though:
    1. There’s no way I can chop the onions, wash the mushrooms and then chop them while browning the meat- it’s just too crazy and I’m worrying about the meat burning etc. so I’d suggest for the novice cook to chop all that beforehand.
    2. Two tbsp of butter never seems enough for my enameled Dutch oven- I always end up adding more oil to prevent burning.
    3. Simmer very gently. You can’t hurry this stew or the meat will be tough and sad. Dedicate sufficient time.
    4. Perhaps the celery root I bought was very old and tough, but it was a battle to peel and cut. I also don’t care much for the taste of celery. I usually use red or gold potatoes instead and it’s still tasty.
    5. I always have trouble scraping the pan of the browned bits… They’re really burned on and it’s hard to clean later.

    Any tips for the above would be greatly appreciated- I love this stew, but the browning meat step is kind of scary and stressful!

  • Jeff Berman

    I just made this with some baby fingerling potatoes, a rutabaga, a turnip, a parsnip and some celery to replace the celery root. Also added a little leftover red wine to replace some water. Possibly the tastiest thing I have ever made. Thank you!

  • Christine Murphy

    Perfect stew. New to barley but like the fiber it adds and it thickened the broth nicely. Sub chopped celery for celery root and celery leaves for the dill garnish. Serving sour cream is a new one to me but wow. Recipe is just plain perfect as it is….rare for me not to doctor it up. New subscriber.


  • perky cox

    We made a few modifications to the underlying basic recipe (which looks awesome as is) just to suit our family’s tastes. We have a couple of sour cream haters, so we left that out completely. We might use plain yogurt spooned at the table if someone wants a more stroganoff flavor in the bowl.

    We also added 2 cans of roasted tomatoes with the stock, used celery instead of celery root, omitted the potatoes, and added 1/2 cup of a good dark ale (Avery Celebration Ale, but Guiness Stout would be great too) during the last 45 minutes of cooking, which gave the alcohol plenty of time to burn off.

  • Travler2130

    I love barley and this was the best. I also agree that it is better the next day! This will be my new GO TO receipe for beef barley soup. Yum yum.


  • Brenda

    I would like to Thank You very much for this recipe. I made it and it was very good. The next day it tasted even better. There are other recipe here that sound very appealing, I will probably be trying those at a later date.


  • Barbara

    I made the stew 2 days ago and let the flavors mingle and ate it tonight with a salad and homemade corn bread. I also took some to a friend who is recuperating from an operation, we all enjoyed the flavor and I was asked for the recipe. It is so easy to make and needed to only buy the meat and mushrooms. I also added a can of beer in place of some of the liquids. I will make this often.


  • Hazel

    Didn’t have any sour cream on hand, so just had the stew as it is (with potatoes instead of celery root). Delicious! So hearty and comforting.

  • Dave

    I made this last week and my three kids, ten, eight & four all loved it as did my wife. We have never had celery root before and must say it was really good. I followed the recipe to the letter.

  • Renee

    This was delicious. I used rutabagas since I couldn’t find celery root, and added potatoes as well. The marjoram and little salt I used were enough seasoning. My family loved it and we look forward to leftovers tomorrow after it sits for a day.

  • Heidi

    This was absolutely delicious. The vegetables did most of the flavoring on their own without needing to worry about adding your own spices. I followed this recipe as is, with the exception of adding more barley because for some reason I thought it took 1 lb vs. 1 cup but we have some wonderfully flavored barley soup now that we’ve eaten most of the meat and vegetables out of it.

  • T. Hannibal Gay

    Very nice recipe Elise. My youngest daughter’s middle name is Elise and she’s a peach also.

    Try making this same recipe with some beef stock, or even better and richer with beef broth. Buttermilk can also be used in place of the sour cream for a similar taste and less curdling. Any stew is good and worth making. I’m glad you posted this recipe.

  • carrie

    any tips for making this in a slow cooker? i am a slow cooker novice, and it seems like this is the kind of recipe that would adapt well.

  • daveg

    I made a very similar recipe just this week, but using a bottle of dark beer and 1 tsp caraway seeds. Also thickened with flour to be more stew like. Came out wonderful!

    Once before I made it with an ale and it didn’t have enough richness to it, so I had to supplement with some worcestershire.

    I love to use parsnips in stews, but combined with my caraway once the result was a bit too aromatic for my taste. Do you like parsnips in stews, and with which herbs or seasonings would you pair it?

  • Mary

    Thanks for another winner Elise! Question: I made this last night and it looked like a clear broth, like a hearty soup. We didn’t eat it right away, but put it away in the fridge and came back to it the next day. Now it is a heavy gravy-like stew. Did I do something wrong? Or is that just what happens over time? Thanks! – Mary

    The stew thickens up over time. I think it just gets better. ~Elise

  • Sunny

    Don’t have marjoram. Any substitution I can use? Also if making this for a person who is gluten sensitive, is the farrow gluten free do you know?
    If I make this for others, can I use quick cooking barley and would I add it later since it would probably cook much quicker?

    You can use oregano as a substitute for marjoram. Farro is not gluten-free. If looking for a gluten-free substitute, I would suggest using short-grained brown rice. No idea about quick cooking barley. ~Elise

  • Mike Hromadko

    Hank likes to use goose in this recipe. Then he would surely like the way my freinds and I fix goose here in Minnesota. First we debone the goose and cut into bite size pieces. Make a worchstershire marinade and place the goose pieces in this for 6 – 8 hours, then take a piece of goose a piece of onion and a piece of green bell pepper wrap it in a piece of bacon and grill on medium hot grill 5 min. a side, and you have one excellent tasting treat.

  • Debbd

    I made this last night for our Super Bowl Supper! It was great! My husband likes things a little spiced up so on his I added a small dollop of Horseradish along with the Sour Cream. He really liked it!! The only change I would make is dredging the meat in flour before browing. In a non stick Dutch Oven the meat didn’t brown the way I’d like without it.
    Thanks for posting, we’ll definately make this one again!

  • Susan

    I made stew yesterday taking inspiration from this recipe. I used round steak (cuz that’s what I had thawed to make something else, first!) cut into 2″X 3″X 1/2″ thick strips and marinaded them in a mixture of red wine, garlic, a little olive oil, pepper and rosemary for about 4 hours. I did this because round steak is tougher and it needed the acid to break it down a little. I also dredged the drained strips in flour and browned them. I then went with the rest of your recipe but included the marinade as part of the liquid. Delicious. I loved the addition of the barley in the recipe, the texture, different from the meat, but still a bit chewy was very it absorbed flavor from the sauce and was so good. Will definately add the barley from now on. Thanks, Elise.

  • shawn heneghan

    Just reading through this recipe I can tell that it would benefit from some allspice.

    You are welcome to add whatever spices you want. I found it perfectly seasoned as is. ~Elise

  • Phil Miller

    I was going to write that I made something so very similar last week, except I used farro – and then I read the comment about substituting farro. (For whatever it is worth, “farro” in some Italian dialects means what we call barley. (Oh, and one addition I made was of a good red wine.)

  • Jessen

    Yummmmmmm =)

  • 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

  • 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