culinary review

Pinto Bean and Barley Stew

Last Modified: 11/05/08
First Published: 11/01/07
Views: 28836
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Views: 28836
This is a great dish to make if you cooked beans earlier. Then save the water that the beans cooked in and use that as a broth for this soup. It adds depth, color and taste. If you don't have that on hand, then just add regular chicken or vegetable broth or water and a bullion cube.bean_barley_stew

We used pinto beans, but any beans would work, or even lentils.
This recipe would also be perfect to make in the slow cooker (although then start with soaked, dry beans). Then just add all the ingredients together and set on low for 8-10 hours, that would give the beans as well as the barley time to cook.

This is also a nice dish to make in advance as it's even better the next day. Another option is to make a large batch and freeze some. Then you can heat up a warm bowl of this comforting stew on one of those days when no one feels like cooking.
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General Info
Servings: 4
Total Cost: $4.71
Cost Per Serving: $1.18
Total Calories: 1,672
Calories/Serving: 418
Vegetable Oil 1 Tablespoon 14.00 Grams $0.03 120
Butter, Unsalted 2 Tablespoons 28.00 Grams $0.13 200
Onion, Yellow Diced (1 onion) 1 Cup 160.00 Grams $0.35 67
Carrots (1 carrot, diced) 1/2 Cup 64.00 Grams $0.07 26
Barley, Pearl 1 Cup 200.00 Grams $0.22 704
Chicken Broth 5 Cups 1,215.00 Grams $0.54 60
Pinto Beans, Cooked 2 Cups 480.00 Grams $1.18 412
Salsa 3/4 Cups 194.25 Grams $1.29 55
Bay Leaf (1 leaf) * 5.00 Grams $0.04 17
Thyme, Dried 1 Teaspoon 1.40 Grams $0.37 4
Cumin, Ground 1/2 Teaspoon 1.05 Grams $0.07 4
Chili Powder 1/2 Teaspoon 1.25 Grams $0.08 4
Celery Salt 1 Teaspoon 4.00 Grams $0.34 0
Water 2 Cups 454.00 Grams $0.00 0

This bean and barley stew/soup is rich, comforting, budget-friendly, very healthy and really easy to make. The barley add such a nice earthiness and the beans provide taste, texture and protein. It's a vegetarian dish, or even completely vegan if you omit the butter, nonetheless it's quite hearty and satisfying. We added some salsa at the end to flavor this stew and it was perfect with the beans and the barley. 

4-6 servingsbean_broth


  • oil & butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup barley
  • 7 cups broth (either bean broth, chicken broth or vegetable broth)
  • 2 cups of cooked beans (we used pinto beans)
  • ¾ cup salsa

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
barley_stew bean_stew


Sautee the onion and the carrot in some oil and butter. After about 10 minutes, add the garlic and the dried barley, saute for a few more minutes, add the bay leaf, and the spices. Add the broth (either the bean broth or chicken broth or a combination thereof) and bring up to a simmer. If you were using dry, soaked beans instead of cooked ones, you could add them at this point as well.

Now cook for about an hour or until the barley is cooked (or if using dry beans, cook until the beans are soft). When the barley is soft add the cooked beans and the salsa. Taste and possibly add some more spices. Let cook for a few more minutes to bring everything together.

This stew is perfect to serve with a dollop of sour cream and some nice bread on the side.