Does barley soup freeze well?

Bumblebeez SC Zone 7October 25, 2011

I bought some barley today and would like to make a soup in individual servings for the freezer.

Here is a recipe that appeals to me from all recipes although I would leave out the carrot and add more seasonings. I know the potatoes are questionable freezer wise.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 cups beef stock

3/4 cup barley

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped

1/2 cup red wine

2 cups cubed potatoes

2 cups diced cooked beef

1 teaspoon browning sauce (optional)

1 1/2 cups chopped cabbage

salt and pepper to taste


In a large pot over medium heat, combine the oil, onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the beef stock, barley, bay leaf and thyme and simmer until barley is softened but not mushy. Add the wine, potatoes and beef.

Add the browning and seasoning sauce now if you want your soup to have more of a brown color. Simmer another 15 minutes and add the cabbage. Allow to simmer another 15 minutes, or until all vegetables are tender. Salt and pepper to taste.

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I freeze all types of soup all the time. I think it would be okay. Maybe leave out the potatoes.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 12:58PM
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I'd sub either 2 cups of mushrooms or 2 cups of cooked brown rice for the potatoes.....they get mushy in the freezer.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 1:00PM
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BB, due to being a commuter family for many years I make a lot of freeze ahead meals. Unfortunately, with barley soup I've not had good experiences. The barley continues to soak up liquid much like pasta. When thawed, I have something more akin to barley mush than soup. Adding more broth delutes the other ingredients & I've never gotten it so we're happy with the results. :(

Cubed potatoes also do not freeze well, IMO. When freezing, the potato's cell structure ruptures & creates a mushy, grainy texture. That's why mashed potatoes can be frozen easily...the cell structure has already been smashed before freezing. :)

I'll be watching this thread for suggestions so I can include this with our freezer soups since we love barley.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 1:06PM
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I have no problem at all freezing barley soup. I don't notice any change in texture.

I don't use potatoes, though.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 1:22PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Thanks everyone! I know about potatoes but that is new to me about the barley. I would hate it if it were mushy at all.
I like grains with a bit of a chew.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 1:22PM
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Perhaps you could parcook the barley and freeze it separately and add it to the soup when reheating.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 1:44PM
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I freeze beef & barley soup quite often during the winter months. I usually make the soup and serve it when it's fresh. Then serve it the next day and freeze the remainder. The barley does soak up some liquid during the cooling off & refrigeration stage, but that's not unusual. When I thaw the frozen soup, it's no thicker than it was when it had been refrigerated overnight. I don't think the texture suffers either. Each barley kernel is still intact and quite chewy.

However, I do not cook my barley in the soup broth. I cook it separately in water, drain it, and add it to the soup about 15-20 minutes before I serve it the first time around. That may be why I don't have any problems with the soup becoming too starchy and thick with the barley falling apart. But once everything is combined, I've had no problems with freezing leftover soup.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 6:58PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Thanks y'all. That is what I will do, cook the barley separate but freeze it in the soup.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 7:27PM
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I agree, I've also had no trouble freezing beef barley soup. It does absorb some of the broth/liquid, but so does beef barley soup left overnight in the refrigerator, it's a lot the same.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 9:35PM
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Some veggies in soup get a little mushy after freezing/thawing, but it doesn't effect the flavor... just a texture thing.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 12:09AM
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OK, beef/barley soup will be on the menu soon & will try cooking the barley separate...never tried that.

BB, enjoy your soup & thanks for asking the question.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 7:17AM
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I make Sherry's recipe and always freeze the leftovers. The barley does absorb a little more liquid but I've never had it turn to mush like pasta or potatoes would.

One of my favorites.....


    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 9:54PM
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Bumblebee :

Try freezing one portion ( take the potatoes out ).

Then thaw it out and give it a test.
If you like it, add nuked Potatoe pieces , after the fact.
You can also add instant potatoes to thicken.

Use the Potatoes you removed , with Eggs or something else.

Or mash them to freeze, with the Soup.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 10:12PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Linda, would you post the recipe? I'm not sure who Sherry is.
I can't recall most screen and real names!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 1:51AM
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Sure. Sherry is Sheshebop, long time member here, but she doesn't post much anymore. I made this one for my annual soup party a couple of weeks ago and there were no leftovers!

Beef Barley Soup
serves 8

1-1/2 lbs. boneless beef chuck
6 cups beef broth
2 cup sliced celery
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup sliced carrots
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 6 oz. can tomato paste-I only use 3 oz
1 cup quick-cooking barley I use regular pearled barley

Trim fat from meat, cut into 1/2" cubes, and brown in olive oil. In a Dutch oven, combine the meat, broth, celery, mushrooms, carrots, onions, salt, rosemary, pepper, and garlic. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 1-1-1/2 hour or until meat is tender. If necessary, skim fat.

Stir in tomato paste and barley. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about ten minutes or until barley is done.

You could make this in the crock pot, and then when you get home, add the barley and tomato paste and heat for 10 minutes on the stovetop until the barley is done.
This soup will also freeze well. Freeze in 1 cup portions for a fast, hot lunch. Just micro for about 5 minutes until thawed and hot


    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 8:35AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Thanks so much. I am going to leave out the mushrooms ( hate them) and greatly minimize the carrots so I will use other vegetables.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 9:16AM
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