Beef, Butternut Squash, and Barley Soup

I love my Instant Pot. I also have to admit that stovetop pressure cookers scare the crap out of me though. My mom used to cook soup in a stovetop pressure cooker when I was a kid because it would quickly make the most deliciously tender meat, but the sound would always freak me out if she got busy with something else. When I learned about the Instant Pot, I totally had to get one because I could more accurately replicate my favorite Filipino soups from my childhood without scaring myself. (BTW this is not a Filipino soup recipe, but I might post sinigang na baboy or chicken tinola in the future)

I use my Instant Pot for a lot of things, including stuff other than soup. But it’s totally soup season right now and here we go with a soup recipe inspired by a simple detox soup. This version is more embellished but pretty adaptable. Sometimes I add baby kale at the very end to get some extra greens in. Sometimes I leave the barley out. But it’s always delicious.

If I have the time, I spread things out throughout the day so I have the chance to remove the excess fat. I love chuck, but it can be pretty fatty in this sort of application. Alternatively, since we’re using a pressure cooker here, you could use a tougher or leaner cut (read: less expensive!) and it should still come out tender and delicious. In our house, we try to not have too much beef so I usually just wait for a sale on chuck to do this one. You could also scale this down and get a pack of stew meat. I like meat in my soup to be smaller than the usual stew cut though, so if I go that way, I cut the meat cubes in half or thirds before adding them to the pot.

If you’re the sandwich eating type, it does pair really nicely with a grilled cheese…


Beef, Butternut Squash, and Barley Soup
Written for an Instant Pot. Serves 6-8 people in meal sized portions.

3-4 pound chuck roast, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 of a butternut squash, cut into bite sized pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 cup pearl barley
6 cups beef stock
salt and pepper, to taste

Quick Version: Add chuck, butternut squash, and onion to an Instant Pot. Season with salt and pepper and toss to make sure everything is evenly seasoned. Add barley and stock. Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Allow to naturally depressurize for at least 10 minutes. Check barley for doneness. Skim fat off surface if desired.

Long Version: If you’re making this over a couple days (or at least through one day), pressure cook the chuck and onions with the stock as directed above (high pressure, 15 minutes). Allow to cool and refrigerate. Remove some (or all) of the fat layer from the top once chilled. Return insert to your Instant Pot and add butternut squash and pearl barley. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Allow to naturally depressurize for 10 minutes. Check barley for doneness.

Non-Instant Pot Version: If you don’t have an Instant Pot or a pressure cooker, you can adapt this recipe for a slow cooker or long stove top simmer. I haven’t done it myself, but my guess would be to break it into two active cooking sessions. Session one would be beef, onions, and half of the stock together. Once the meat is tender and cooked, and excess fat removed, then I would add the remaining stock and pearl barley with the butternut squash. If you’re trying it this way, let me know how it worked for you and what your timing was!

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