Simply Homemade: Hamburger Barley Soup

This recipe came to our family via my mom. I would love to post the original recipe and show you the feed-an-army sized measurements but, for the sake of saving you all from doing math and cutting it down, I went ahead and gave you the reasonably sized version! The size of the original recipe gave it automatics credit in my book. I mean, if you’re going to share a recipe that calls for 4 quarts of tomatoes and 4 pounds of hamburger then it’d better taste good, right? In the case of this particular recipe, that’s the truth! I’m not sure when I would ever have the need to make a batch as large as the original recipe calls for but I wouldn’t hesitate in doing so knowing how great the taste is!

Please don’t let the list of ingredients scare you away from making this soup. There are quite a few shortcuts you can use when prepping it and it’s really mostly a matter of adding the ingredients to the pot and letting it simmer away so it can do it’s thing and build flavors. Besides cooking the hamburger and chopping the veggies, it does not involved a lot of hands on time. You could even save time with the veggies by purchasing a frozen package of veggies that are already the combo you want/need. Hello smart grocery shopping, goodbye extra time in the kitchen!

There are all sorts of variations you could do with this and some tips I’d like to share with it as well. For example, if you are wanting this to have a little extra nutritional value, go ahead and toss in some chopped green beans or peas or even some beans. Try it with ground turkey instead of hamburger if you’re a turkey fan. If you don’t have barley or prefer something a little heartier you can use cubed potatoes instead. Serve it on its own or with crackers or (my personal favorite) a delicious loaf of crusty bread that’s been warmed in the oven!

Have extra time to let it cook but no patience for sautéing veggies? No problem! Add the veggies in from the get-go, add a couple hours of simmer time, and there’s no need to sauté. Need this meal quick? Go ahead and sauté the veggies to start the softening and you can have this ready in around a half hour! Don’t wanna mess with that sautéing nonsense? Or, if you are my hubby and not entirely sure on what that word means… Put the veggies in a microwave safe bowl with a couple tablespoons of the broth, cover, and microwave for about 3 minutes. I use that trick alllllll the time to shave off a little of the hands-on cooking time. Works great with most recipes and you can either use a little of the cooking liquid from the recipe or a small pat of butter works fabulously too. You can cook this on low for a long time or on high for a shorter time. Just be sure to add the barley (or potatoes if you prefer) in the last 10-15 minutes of cooking time before you are ready to serve so they are the right consistency.

Whether you choose to multiply this recipe a couple times for a big batch or use this serving size below, I hope you give this soup a shot! It is truly all that is good in the soup world – simple & delicious & comforting! Enjoy!

Hamburger Barley Soup

  • Servings: Approximately 6-8
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Simple soup with a great base that can be made quickly or simmered for hours of you prefer!


-1 pound hamburger meat, browned and drained

-1 quart (4 cups) stewed tomatoes (including liquid)

-1 quart water

-1 can tomato soup

-1/4 cup ketchup

-1 teaspoon seasoning salt

-1/2 tablespoon dried basil

-1 teaspoon salt

-1/2 teaspoon pepper

-1 bay leaf

-1 beef bouillon cube

-1 cup onion, chopped

-1 cup carrots, chopped

-1 cup celery, chopped

-1/2 cup barley


1) In large pot, put all ingredients except last four (set aside barley, onions, carrots celery unless you are wanting to make this low and slow and cook for a couple hours in which case you can add in the veggies and set aside just the barley to add later). Set burner on medium heat and cook stirring occasionally.

2) Sauté onions, carrots, and celery with 1 tablespoon butter in small saucepan or use trick mentioned in post above and microwave with a bit of the stewed tomato liquid instead. Add veggies to large pot once mostly softened. If cooking low and slow you can skip this step!

3) Cook contents of large pot for approximately 15 minutes longer (can go longer if you have time but not necessary) stirring occasionally.

4) Add barley into pot, stir, and cook about 10-15 minutes until barley is softened then serve!

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