Skinny Beef, Vegetable and Barley Soup (Crock Pot or Stove Top)


If you love a thick, flavorful, hearty soup, this one’s for you!!! And serving a main course soup for dinner is so healthy and satisfying. Any leftovers freeze great. I’ve included directions for cooking this easy, one dish meal either on the stove top or crock pot. Each serving (1½ cups) has only 172 calories 2 grams of fat and 3 Weight Watchers SmartPoints. Serve with side salad and you are all set for dinner!

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour on stove top
Cook Time: 7-8 hours on low in crock pot


1 pound package lean ground beef (96%), see shopping tips

2 (32-oz) containers Swanson’s reduced-sodium beef broth or your favorite broth

1 (14.5 oz) can Swanson’s reduced-sodium beef broth

1 (14.5 oz) can tomatoes, diced

¾ cup dried pearl barley, see shopping tips

1½ cups carrots, sliced

1½ cups celery, sliced

1½ cups onions, chopped

1½ cups zucchini, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon dried sage

Fresh ground pepper, to taste

3 cups fresh spinach leaves

Instructions for Stove Top:

1. In a large nonstick pot or pan, brown ground beef. Pour into a colander in sink and drain fat. Add beef back to pot. Pour in all the beef broth, tomatoes and barley. Bring to a boil, turn down to simmer, cover pot and cook for 15 minutes.

2. Add the carrots, celery, onions, zucchini and garlic to the broth. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, thyme, sage and fresh ground pepper. Cook uncovered 50 minutes

3. Stir in spinach leaves and cook 2 minutes more. Remove the bay leaf.

4. This soup freezes great.

Makes 12 cups total: 8 main course servings (1½ cups each)

Instructions for Crock Pot:

Note: You’ll need a large (6 quart) crock-pot. If you don’t have one this large, you can use a smaller crock=pot and cut the recipe in half.

1. In a large nonstick pot or pan, brown ground beef. Pour into a colander in sink and drain fat.

2. Place beef and all ingredients in the crock pot, except spinach. Mix together well.

3. Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or on HIGH heat for 3½ hours until veggies and barley are soft. Stir in spinach, cover and cook on high for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf.

Healthy Benefits
Pearled barley is high in cholesterol-lowering fiber and very low in fat. A single serving offers 11% of the RDA of iron and has a fair amount of folate and niacin.

Shopping Tips
Trader Joe’s extra lean ground beef is a terrific, healthy choice. It has 130 calories and 4 grams of fat for 4 ounces. If you can’t find beef this lean, look for the leanest kind you can find. The fat will cut down more since you drain the fat in a colander after browning.

You can find dried pearl barley in the supermarket aisle with the dried beans.

Looking to buy a crock-pot? Here’s one of my favorites: 
Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S 6-Quart Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker, Digital Timer, Stainless Steel

Weight Watchers SmartPoints 3
Weight Watchers POINTS PLUS

SKINNY FACTS: for 1½ cups serving
172 calories, 2g fat, 1g sat. fat, 25mg chol, 17g protein, 21g carbs, 4g fiber, 704mg sodium, 4g sugar
FACTS: for SmartPoints
142 calories, 1g sat. fat, 2g sugar, 16g protein