Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Jan 16, 2013 10:11 AM

Beef barley soup that tastes like... Progresso?

I admit it. I eat canned soup. [Hangs head in shame.]

I really, really enjoy Progresso's Beef Barley soup (, but like most canned soups, it has a TON of sodium in it. Unfortunately, Progresso doesn't make a reduced-sodium version of this soup, so I'm stuck with stressing out my kidneys every time I eat it.

Ideally, I'd like to just make my own and be able to eat as much soup as I want, especially when it's freezing cold/raining out. However, the sheer number of recipes I've found is overwhelming, and I'm not sure how to narrow them down.

The one thing that I particularly like about this soup is that the broth is fairly thick and has a black-peppery kick to it.

Any suggestions? Thanks!


P.S. For reference, here's the ingredient list for my evil, sodium-laden Progresso soup:
Beef Broth, Carrots, Cooked Beef, Green Beans, Tomatoes, Barley. Contains less than 2% of: Corn, Celery, Modified Food Starch, Water, Sugar, Salt, Soy Protein (hydrolyzed), Wheat Flour Bleached, Potassium Chloride, Yeast Extract, Toasted Onion Powder, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Natural Flavor, Spice, Soybean Oil, Dried Parsley, Citric Acid, Sodium Phosphate, Beef Fat, Beef Extract, Calcium Chloride, Paprika.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You will never be able to duplicate the flavor without all that salt. I say if you love it cut back on the salt in other places and enjoy your guilty pleasure!

    All that said I love Ina's recipe and its often in my winter rotation. I can't imagine it has that much less sodium though. I buy homemade beef stock from a catering company instead of canned but still I am sure it loaded with salt. You could probably used low sodium broth to help cut back

    1. Beef broth is time-consuming and expensive to make from scratch because beef imparts less flavor per pound of bones/meat to stock than chicken does. I suggest you try starting with Superior Touch Better than Bouillon's reduced sodium version of their beef base. You'll have to do the math to compare the amount of sodium per serving with Progresso's. Then you can just cook your barley and vegetables in the reconstituted beef broth, and either add cubes of raw beef toward the end, or ask for a roast beef end at the deli counter, and dice that up, adding it to the finished soup. The barley will thicken the broth somewhat. This will happen once the soup is cooled, chilled, then reheated. If it's not thick enough then, you can always reheat the entire batch and add a slurry of broth and flour, summering until thickened. Making your own it a good idea. Not only less salt, but you can add more vegetables, or vary the ones you use.

      If you are determined to use homemade stock but don't want to make beef stock, you might like chicken barley soup if you try it. Or, mix BTB base into diluted homemade chicken stock. There are a number of soup recipes, including versions of French onion soup, that combine chicken and beef broths. The finished soups taste meaty rather than chickeny.

      1 Reply
      1. re: greygarious

        Yeah, I have no quams about using pre-made stock. I'd like to see how much less sodium is in off-the-shelf broth to determine if there's really a difference.

        foodieX2- Thanks for Ina's recipe, I'll check it out!

      2. I used this recipe last week.
        I used broth instead of water though, mainly because I just realized it called for water, not broth. Whoops. Maybe use 1/2 broth, 1/2 water, or low sodium broth

        1. I can't count how many times I've recommended this, online and printed out for folks, an easy beef-barley with reasonably good nutritional values from U of Alaska/Fairbanks:

          I make my beef-barley (and lamb-barley, and goat-barley) in the crockpot (will do fine also in stovetop stewpot in your usual timeframe). I do use Better than Bouillon beef low-sodium sometimes to enhance if needed.

          1. I don't have a good recipe but just wanted to say I'm with you on loving this soup. I like almost all their soups. I usually eat a can of soup for lunch every day. ;)

            Have no fear, you are not alone ;)