I've been using this recipe since my penny-pinching newlywed days back in the 70's. Its inexpensive, hearty, easy and delicious. If you don't eat beef, substitute ground turkey, and you will still have a satisfying meal. Like most soups, its better the next day, but don't expect it to last much longer than that.
Dice onion and celery (not too small this is a chunky chowder) and add to a dutch oven with the ground beef (or ground turkey). Cook on high heat to brown meat & sweat veggies. I use 80/20 burger so there is no need to drain, if you do drain, you will lose a lot of flavor.
Dice carrots & unpeeled potatoes, (again not too small)and add to pot when the meat is cooked through.
Add the canned tomatoes plus 2 cans of water, salt, pepper & barley. Give mixture a good stir & cover. Leave heat on high until mixture starts to boil. Then reduce heat so the chowder stays at a simmer. Cook for approximately 1 hour stirring occasionally. When the potatoes, carrots & barley are cooked, the chowder is done.
The longer the chowder cooks, the better it tastes. You can hold it on very low heat, but be careful that the chowder doesn't scorch on the bottom.