Beef & Barley Stew

“Maybe they don’t have sheep and cattle, Bran thought. He commanded the serving men to bring them mutton chops and a slice off the aurochs and fill their trenchers with beef-and-barley stew. They seemed to like that well…” -A Clash of Kings

Beef-and-Barley Stew


Thick and hearty, this is the kind of  stew that will stick to your ribs. Because this soup, and many other variations similar to it, are served in the North, I’ve only included ingredients we know they have. I’d recommend you use this recipe as a starting point and mix in your own choice of ingredients, as available and desired.

This version holds a delicate balance between barley, meat, and veg. The  barley and turnip give the stew some heft, while the carrots provide a much welcome burst of color. The beef softens as it stews, and each spoonful holds a different combination of filling. Pair with our white or black breads, and you’ll be as happy as a crannogman in a bog.

Beef and Barley Stew Recipe


  • 1 pound beef stew meat, cut into small pieces
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 4 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup diced turnip
  • 1-2 carrots, sliced small
  • ~10 whole pearl onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley
  • 6 cup water
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cup beef broth
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbs. each butter and flour for roux (optional)

Put half the butter into saute pan, and brown the beef. Set aside. Add the rest of the butter, along with the mushrooms, turnips, carrots, onions, and garlic. Saute for just a few minutes until the mushrooms are soft, making sure that the veggies get completely covered with butter.

Combine the meat, veg, and all other ingredients in a large pot. Simmer over medium heat for at least an hour, adding extra water or broth as the barley soaks it up.

The starch from the barley will thicken the soup somewhat, but if you’d like it thicker, add a roux.

Melt the butter, and add flour. Stir to combine as the mixture until the color is golden. Add a ladle of broth, stirring all the while, then pour the whole mixture into the main pot.



17 thoughts on “Beef & Barley Stew”

  1. fluffywarthog says:

    Curse you, Mead! It is waaaay too hot outside to cook/eat this, but it looks far too tasty not to.

    1. Needs Mead says:

      Man, I’m jealous of wherever you are. Out here today, you’d swear Winter was Coming…

      1. Windmaster Hiroaki says:

        When you live in my place which is summer 24/7/52 until it rains, so much so you’ll be soaked in sweat in about 30 minutes standing under the sun, you’d stop being jealous of people living in hot places…

  2. sadie says:

    This sounds tasty and simple, which in my books is the best combination there is. I too live in an area experiencing winter in June, so it may be made soon.

    One small typo on the recipe: it says ‘3 cloves garlic cloves’ in the ingredients list…

    1. Needs Mead says:

      Haha, good catch. :P Whereabouts are you freezing?

      1. sadie says:

        Nearish to Toronto, Canada. I wore winter gear to an outdoor event last Friday (admittedly at a place somewhat norther than Toronto), and was so cold that it took an hour and half of driving with the heater on full before I was warm enough to take off my toque. I guess it makes up for having summer in March…

    2. Lincoln says:

      I really hate to admit this, especially since I’m a guy, but i swear at first i thought you said boobs and I was like “What?” So i had to read it once more and I was like “OH.” So, I apologize about that.

  3. Nic says:

    As an inhabitant of the north (Alaska!), this is a dish I will have to make. ^_^

  4. Paschendale says:

    I love beef and barley stew, although I have never made this exact version. It’s hard to top, a simple dish with simple ingredients, but so satisfying on the tongue and in the stomach.

  5. camazotz17 says:

    How many servings does this make? 0.o

    1. Needs Mead says:

      Ooh, it’s been a while, but I’d say 4-6.

  6. Samurang87 says:

    So good! I changed it a bit, though, because of ingredient availability – for instance, an onion and a piece of leek (which rhymes with Reek) instead of the pearl onions, and parsley root instead of turnip. A pot of it fed me for many a meal. I ate it while reading “A Dance with Dragons”, which made the experience even better ;)

  7. Tyrion says:

    Would it affect the taste greatly if I substituted potatoes for turnips?

  8. Allet Mae Bien says:

    Will definitely make this during winter, it’s too hot here in good old Perth, but it sounds so yummy that I am tempted to brave the heat :D

  9. Sarah Ditcher says:

    This look absolutely delicious….definitely one for sunday lunchtime I think :)
    I’m in England, so who knows what the weather will be like on Sunday…could be bikini weather, could be thermal pyjamas weather :S

  10. Ken Walker (Lord Kismet of Felfrost) says:

    I made this for a LARPing event recently with several loaves of dark beer bread pre-made before going. A lot of friends who didn’t expect to have a meal handed to them were very happy.

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