Place a large saucepot over medium heat and add the olive oil and onions. Saute the onions for 2-3 minutes. Then stir in the carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook for another 3-5 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the beef into small 1/2-inch chunks. Push the veggies to the side of the pot and add the meat. Brown for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Then add in the broth, tomatoes, barley, herbs, crushed red pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir well.
Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat if needed and simmer until the barley is cooked and the beef is tender, stirring occasionally. About 30 minutes.
Taste. Then season with salt and pepper as needed.