Asian-Style Beef Barley Soup

Asian-style Beef Barley Soup recipe by

You may not be able to hide from catching a cold or flu this season, but you can start strengthening your immune system right now to help fight off the virus faster if you do fall sick.

Just incorporate more tea & spices into your diet. 

Drink a few cups of green tea per day, or your favorite herbal tea – try a fresh ginger tea, or a winter lemonade.

And add a lot of warming spices into your homemade soups – like star anise pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves, black cardamom pods, and dried red chilies – to give the broth more nutrients, more of a bite, and more of a distinctly Asian flavor.

warming spices for soup like cinnamon sticks, star anise, black peppercorns

Inspired by the famous Vietnamese Pho soup broth, with its heavy use of spice – especially cinnamon, star anise, clove, and fresh ginger – I prepared an Asian-style Beef Barley Soup.

Asian-style Beef Barley Soup by

You may not associate cinnamon with soup, but its refreshing, sweetness enhances the rich flavor of the beef.  I recommend first trying a tamer cinnamon like Indonesian cinnamon for this Asian-style Beef Barley Soup, and the next time, experimenting with Vietnamese cinnamon to add a sweeter, spicier element to the base. 

Whatever mix of spices you decide on for your beef barley soup, just stick to one rule on these cold January days – add in a little extra of each spice to stay warm, and to stay healthy.

Beef Barley Soup by

buy quality asian spices from season with spice shop

Beef Barley Soup by Season with Spice 
Makes one large pot of soup (serves 6-8)

Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

Beef Vegetable broth: 
2 lbs of beef short ribs – bone in (or oxtail)
15 cups of water (add more as it boils out)
1 carrot – sliced thinly
1 celery stalk – chopped
1/2 small yellow onion – chopped
1 Season with Spice's Vietnamese cinnamon stick 
2 Season with Spice's star anise pods
3 whole cloves
1 dried red chili pepper (optional)
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp of fennel seeds
1-2" slice of fresh ginger (optional)
1 black cardamom pod (optional)
Salt to taste

Beef Soup: 
1/2 -1 lb of beef chuck – cubed (or beef round sirloin tip)
12 cups of water
6 carrots – peeled and chopped
5 stalks celery - chopped
1 large yellow onion - chopped
5 cloves garlic – minced
Salt to taste

1. In a large soup pot, add in all ingredients for the beef vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook for 2-3 hours on low fire. As it cooks, add in water to keep the original level.
2. Once the beef vegetable broth is cooking, start preparing the beef soup ingredients. In a frying pan, add in a tablespoon of vegetable oil, and heat on medium-high fire. When hot, add in beef cubes, chopped onion, and minced garlic, and cook until meat is browned. Transfer to a large soup pot, along with the remaining ingredients. Bring to a low boil and cook uncovered for 2-3 hours on low fire. (Allow water to boil down without replacing it).
3. After 2-3 hours of cooking the broth, remove the beef short ribs and strip off the meat. Add the meat into the pot of beef soup and the bones and fat back to the pot of broth (and add in two more cups of water into the broth). Continue cooking both pots for 1-2 more hours.
4. An hour before you are ready to eat, cook barley in separate pot (per instructions on box).
5. When ready to serve, start by straining the broth into a large bowl, and discarding the ingredients*. Take out soup bowls and add a serving of barley into each. Then add broth in, just to the level of the barley. Finally, scoop out a generous portion of the beef and veggies and add on top of the barley. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

*Alternatively, you can strain out just enough broth needed for dinner, and then add in more water to the pot and continue cooking to create more broth for leftovers (I recommend this extra step especially if using oxtail instead of beef short ribs).

- I generally use a pressure cooker for both the beef broth and the beef soup (in Steps 1 & 2), to speed the process up.
- Instead of beef short ribs, I often use oxtail, which creates a much richer, thicker broth. And oxtail provides many healthy minerals, marrow, and collagen that help to strengthen joints and bones.