French Market Vegetable Beef Soup

By Sally Cameron on January 27, 2010

beef & pork, pressure cooker, soups, stews & chilies, the daniel plan,


French Market Vegetable Beef Soup |

French market vegetable beef soup is a meal in itself. It’s got everything from the market in it – chunks of beef, carrots, onions, celery, tomatoes, pearled barley, corn, green beans, red wine, potatoes, Herbs de Provence and paprika all in a rich beef broth. Be sure to add the parsley at the end. It adds a nice fresh garden flavor and color.

French Market Vegetable Beef Soup

Southern California usually has a climate much like the South of France, but last week we were pounded by torrential rainstorms. My thoughts turned to more pleasant weather and a trip to Provence. Fields of fragrant purple lavender humming with bees growing next to fields of golden barley. It was almost surreal, like something from a dream.

From that enchanting memory, I created French market vegetable beef soup, a hearty meal in a bowl for cold wintery days.

Classic French Herb Blend: Herbs De Provence

A few summers ago we were lucky to be in beautiful Provence for a photography workshop. One of the highlights was shooting the lavender fields. Rolling hills, oceans of lavender as far as you could see. It was amazing. Traveling through Provence we saw little clay jars and cotton bags of a dried herb blend called Herbs de Provence. They were in every village we visited.

Created from a blend of herbs that typically bloom in the hillsides of Southern France in summer months, Herbs de Provence includes thyme, rosemary, lavender, fennel, sage, marjoram and savory. You don’t have to travel to Provence to find it. It’s available here as well.

If you’ve never used Herbs de Provence, it’s great for roast chicken and pork, stews, roasted red potatoes, vegetables and many other recipes. It’s always in my herb and spice arsenal, and it’s what I use in this soup.

But back to reality. Needing a warm, comforting soup for my clients and family to ward off the chilly, wet weather, I created French Market Vegetable Beef soup. It combines two elements of that lovely Provence afternoon – a lavender herb blend and barley.

Pressure Cooker Method

Don’t let the list of ingredients deter you from trying this hearty soup.  Once your prep work is done it goes together quickly as it’s made in a pressure cooker. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, it’s a terrific tool to add to your kitchen collection.  I use Fagor pressure cookers. When the lid is secured and you’ve brought it to high pressure it only takes eight minutes to complete.

This soup freezes well. You can make a single batch in an 6 or 8 quart pressure cooker or a double batch with a 10 quart model. Either way, freeze part of your batch for that next rainy day.

Standard Method

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, cook soup in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven and simmer over low heat, covered, until the beef and vegetables are tender and the flavors are blended. It will just take longer than the pressure cooker version.

French Market Vegetable Beef Soup |

Ingredient Notes – Bone Broth

Broth note – I used to use the organic Better Than Bullion concentrate to boost flavor. As I have worked towards eliminating unhealthy ingredients and reading every label, I decided to make a change to this recipe. Unfortunately while these types of products boost flavor, they are terribly high in sodium and contain unhealthy ingredients like sugar and caramel coloring. If you have bullion in your kitchen, toss it.

What I do now is buy frozen bone broth. For extra rich broth and big beefy flavor, reduce 8 cups to 4 cups before starting the recipe. Find good bone broth options in the frozen grocery aisle. Skip the cans and boxes which often have high sodium and unhealthy ingredients. Read labels carefully to make the best choice. You want a brand with no sodium if possible.

Barley note – This recipe calls for pearled barley. Pearled barley grains have had the outer layer polished off or pearled.  Pearled barley lends a nice chew to this soup. In my mind I see those fields of golden barley growing next to fields of lavender in Provence.

But if you eat gluten-free, as we now do, skip the pearled barley as barley contains gluten. You could substitute a little cooked brown rice, but the soup is fine without it for a grain-free soup.

Beef note – Buy about 3/4 quarters of a pound of grass-fed top sirloin. I’m not much of a meat eater so I pick the meat out and give it to my husband, but I love the vegetables and rich broth. If you are big meat eaters, use a full pound.

Frozen vegetables note – Adding frozen vegetables pumps up the vegetable content, texture and healthy profile of the soup. Use an organic blend which includes corn, carrots, green beans, peas. And the nice thing is frozen vegetables are readily available.

Helpful Links – Shopping Tip

When I read labels and find ingredients I’m unsure of, I check a little app on my smartphone from the Center for Science in the Public Interest called Chemical Cuisine. It’s a helpful tool to understanding food additives and whether they are safe or not.

French Market Vegetable Beef Soup |
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Print Recipe

French Market Vegetable Beef Soup

A hearty meal in a bowl with tender beef, lots of vegetables, herbs and rich broth. This recipe is done in a pressure cooker but can be made without one. See notes for standard cooking method. If you follow a gluten-free diet, skip the barley.


  • 3/4 – 1 pound top sirloin cut into small cubes about 3/4″
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil divided use
  • 1 medium onion diced small
  • 3 large garlic cloves minced or pressed
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine optional
  • 4 cups rich beef broth non or no sodium brand or homemade, see note in post
  • 2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence see note below to sub
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1-14 ounce can petite diced tomatoes juice and all
  • 2 medium carrots peeled, diced small
  • 2 celery stalks peeled, diced small
  • 2 medium red potatoes skin on, diced medium
  • 1/4 cup pearled barley skip for gluten-free diet
  • 6-8 ounces mixed frozen organic vegetables green beans, corn, peas and carrots
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese as desired for topping optional


  1. Set a pressure cooker over medium to medium-high heat and brown meat in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the tomato paste and stir with the meat to coat and caramelize a bit. Set meat aside.
  2. Add second tablespoon of olive oil and sauté onions until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add wine to deglaze pan and reduce wine by half. Add all remaining ingredients, water through potatoes and the browned meat as well.
  3. Lock lid in place and bring up to high pressure; begin timing for eight minutes.
  4. Bring pressure down with the quick release method, moving the pot to a sink and running cool water over it. You will hear the pressure release in about 20 seconds.  Remove bay leaf and stir in frozen vegetables and parsley.
  5. Garnish with cheese and enjoy.

Recipe Notes

Standard cooking method:i f you do not have a pressure cooker, brown the meat in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven and follow the rest of the directions. Instead of cooking at high pressure, simmer over low heat with a lid on until the beef and vegetables are tender and the flavors are incorporated.Herbs de Provence substitution: You can substitute other dried herbs blends, such as Italian blend or just use dried thyme, oregano and a little rosemary. Use what you have, but try the Herbs de Provence sometime. it's delicious.

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Leave a Comment
Shurla McManus | February 12, 2010 at 4:58 am

Perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day,it looks scrumptious.

Eileen Sherman | February 14, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Fabulous Blog site and the photos are incredible. I love the photo of the Vegetable, Beef and Barley soup ingredients. That is a soup I will definitely make for my own clients and also have my home chef students make as well. Do you spend time making beef stock from scratch, or do you find that the Better than Bouillon is just as flavorful? Thanks for this blog. It is fantastic. I could use some education and practice taking creatively correct food photos!!!

    Chef Sally | February 14, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Eileen! Thanks for the nice comments. It is a fantastic soup. The BTB gives a very rich, deep flavor. If you can get the new low sodium version that’s good too (less salt). I don’t usually make homemade stock/broth for this. If you prefer to use stock/broth versus BTB I’d double the amount of liquid – 4 1/2 cups to 9 cups – then reduce it to half to intensify the flavors. I do that when I make beef short ribs in the pressure cooker and it works great for big flavor. The best brand I have found it called “Stock Options”. It comes frozen and is just like homemade. Please comment back and let everyone know how it came out!

J. Johns | September 10, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Hi Chef Sally…

I became interested in preparing more Gallic dishes ever since finding out about my own French blood. I tried out your French Market Vegetable Beef Soup Provencal. It is a real blue ribbon recipe! I enjoyed this tremendously, and I even made some for my friend for her birthday. She asked me if I’d taken gourmet classes! Thank you very much for this wonderful soup.

Rose | November 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Hi the Vegetable beef barley soup sounds yummy, I’m looking forward to trying it. However, we do not eat red meet, is there something else you would recommend. I will try the BTB beef stock, or can I use the Vegetable instead

    Sally | November 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Hi Rose. I would try leaving out the beef and using either chicken stock or vegetable stock versus water. Homemade would be best. Without the beef you could probably skip pressure cooking and just simmer until all of the vegetables are tender. The BTB does give the beef version deeper, richer flavor. Looking at the label of BTB, the organic bases (I looked at the chicken) look pretty good in terms of food additives if you want to go with water and use the BTB. Watch the sodium levels. If you want to skip the BTB and still aim for a rich flavor, you could use reduced broth which would have a more intense flavor, or go with regular broth for a lighter soup. This is something I have wanted to play with myself. Please report back what you did. I’ll have to play with my recipe to and make notes. Thanks!

      Rose | January 19, 2013 at 7:11 pm

      Hi Sally
      So I followed your recipe without meat. Bumping up the barley, diced tomatoes, carrots and celery. I used Veggie Stock and a small tsp of the BTB. It taste great. Thank You. I love your recipes and web site.

        Sally | January 20, 2013 at 12:29 pm

        Thanks for reporting back Rose! I’ve wanted to do exactly that and bet it was good. I make it with beef because my family likes it that way. A I am not a beef eater, I have wanted to do a no-beef version.

Tonya Holcomb | October 16, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Sally, Would you please let me know if I need to make any modifications that I would to make to cook this in a slow cooker (crock pot)? Your newbie cook, Tonya

    Sally | October 16, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Hi Tonya. Well that’s a good question. I have never tried it in a slow cooker. I would set the slow cooker to high to brown the meat cubes with the tomato paste, then turn it down, add the onions and allow them to get tender, add the garlic and allow it to cook for a few minutes on low so it is not raw. Then add everything else and turn the cooker to medium or low. Not sure, as it may depend on our model. Then cover and slow cook until the vegetables are tender and the meat is just pink inside. On the wine, as it will not have high heat to cook off the alcohol you may want to skip it or be sure that the cooker is hot enough for the wine to boil down a bit. When you add the veggies at the end, I would add them thawed then allow soup to cook a bit longer so they heat up and the flavors incorporate. If you do this, please report back. Next time I make it I will do a slow cooker version and post additional directions, or even a new modified recipe. Thanks for your question!

      Tonya Holcomb | October 16, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      Sally, since I do not have a pressure cooker, I was thinking about browning the meat and the steps all the way down to the wine in a cast iron skillet. Then, place the meat & remaining ingredients in the slow cooker to allow everything to incorporate. Thank for your feedback!

        Sally | December 11, 2013 at 11:16 am

        That should work fine Tanya!

Lizz | December 11, 2013 at 4:13 am

I have made a real effort to make dinner 4 nights a week for my family of 5. We have been so busy, as many families are that we fell into relying on takeout or worse, cereal for dinner. I get up early and make breakfast, lunch and dinner before 8 am to allow my time running as a Mommy and working with my husband at our family business. This soup cooked while I got ready for the day, I shut it off when I left and turned it on medium when I returned home. It was delicious, and surely hit a spot that no take out can deliver. It also makes a bunch so I can have lunch for days and that makes my hubby very happy. Served with sourdough and a healthy helping of love this recipe is in heavy rotation in this house. Thanks for posting it.

    Sally | December 11, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Thanks for letting us know Lizz! Great story. I am so glad this recipe serves your family well. Good for you on working so hard to be a blessing to your family and feed them well. This soup freezes well too. How long were you gone during the day? The only concern I would have is how long the soups sits out on the stove, for food safety reasons. If it is more than a couple of hours and you want it done when you get home, you might put it in a slow cooker.

Sally Brown | January 4, 2014 at 4:07 pm

I made this recipe today for dinner. It was excellent! I have been looking for a great veggie soup recipe and thanks to you, I found it! The broth was most excellent! Many many thanks. I grew up eating veggie soup and now with your recipe, my son will too. THANK YOU! Going to check out the rest of your recipes!

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