Vegetable Barley Soup

Pull out that stockpot and simmer up our vegetable barley soup. This recipe is a 1-pot meal loaded with fresh flavors to make a belly happy.

nutrient-dense vegetable barley soup

This vegetable barley soup is about to blow your mind. It’s gotten a major upgrade from the stuff I grew up eating out of a can. Also, it’s filled with heart-healthy ingredients that’ll fill your belly and your soul with goodness and comfort. Whether it’s cold or hot in your neck of the woods, pull out that stockpot and simmer up a pot of barley soup.

Vegetable Barley Soup

Is Barley Soup healthy for you?

It absolutely can be healthy… if you use nutrient-dense ingredients. My barley soup recipe is definitely healthy— it’s loaded with plant-based nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. In addition, soups like this vegetable barley soup are high in fiber and liquid, meaning that a hearty bowl will help you stay fuller for longer + not spike your blood sugar.

Honestly, my favorite thing about soup is the easy leftovers. I like to make huge batches of soup, freeze some of it and keep the rest in the fridge for a quick lunch. So when I’m craving Taco Bell (usually when I’m stressed and starving) I can pull this outta the fridge and have lunch ready in 10 minutes. That’ll usually curb the burrito craving for the day. 😉

Close up of pearl barley before it cooks

Do you have to cook pearl barley before adding to soup?

Pearl barley doesn’t need to be pre-cooked before adding to the soup. But you could definitely cook it in advance. One thing I like to do is make a giant batch of barley and divide it between freezer-safe containers and store until I’m ready to use it in a recipe. Pearl barley is the most common type (and easiest to find), which is why I’m using it in vegetable barley soup. I try to keep things as easy as possible when food shopping and cooking.

How long does it take to cook barley?

Pearl barley does take a while to cook – upwards of 30-40 minutes sometimes. You can cut down on the cooking time by using quick cooking barley. Trader Joe’s is one store I know that sells 10-minute barley. In this recipe, we’re using the quick cooking barley. Yet you can totally use the other one if you have the time.

Ingredients needed to make a Vegetable Barley Soup

What are the best vegetables to put in soup?

The best vegetables to put in any veggie soup recipe are the ones you like! I’ll go even further to say that I tend to throw whatever leftover veggies I have in my fridge into soup – roasted veggies, greens, a little of this or that. In addition to broth and barley, here’s a few vegetables you can toss in for a major flavor win:

  • carrots
  • green beans
  • peas
  • kale
  • chard
  • onion
  • celery
  • mushrooms
  • peppers
  • tomatoes
  • potatoes
  • herbs

For this vegetable barley soup recipe, I’ve chosen an array of veggies that you’d find in a classic barley soup. Yet I also added in chopped kale (because we’re all about the leafy greens around here).

Fresh kale leaves chopped into a pot of soup

In case you weren’t sure, feel free to substitute, add, or decrease the veggies to suit your personal preference. Above all, use what you can easily source and trust that this recipe is very forgiving! If kale isn’t your thing, try swiss chard or spinach.

Whole food vegetable barley soup

I like adding mushrooms along with the vegetables too. They add fantastic savory flavor and texture.

More plant-based soups to try

Also, if you’re super excited about this vegetable barley soup, I have a feeling you’re going to like more of our recipes too. Check out more examples below:

Vegetable Barley Soup

Mmmm...vegetable barley soup! You don't have to wait for the weather to turn cold to simmer up a pot of this tasty vegetarian classic. It's full of flavor, veggies, and love to fill your belly!
4.67 from 6 votes
Pin Recipe Rate Recipe Print Recipe
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Entree / Soup
Cuisine: Plant-Based / Vegan
Servings: 6
Calories: 185kcal
Author: Jen Hansard


  • stove


  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking pearl barley, see recipe notes
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herb seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, 28oz, undrained
  • sea salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup peas, frozen
  • 2 cups fresh kale, chopped


  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot set over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the carrots, celery, and onion and saute for 5-10 minutes, or until onions start to soften.
  • Add the garlic and pearl barley. Cook, stirring constantly, to lightly toast the barley, for another 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the sliced mushrooms and continue sauteing. The mushrooms will start to release their liquid.
  • Add the broth or water, dried herbs, and bay leaf, and stir well. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 20-25 minutes.
  • Add the undrained diced tomatoes to the pot. Season well with salt and pepper. Raise heat again and continue cooking for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until barley and vegetables are tender. Add the peas and continue simmering a few more minutes.
  • Just before serving, remove the bay leaf, stir in chopped leafy greens and allow them to wilt in the residual heat. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.


  • Regular (i.e. not quick-cooking) barley can be used. Add an extra 20 minutes of initial simmering time.
  • To make gluten-free, swap the barley with quinoa.


Calories: 185kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 1304mg | Potassium: 607mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 6655IU | Vitamin C: 47mg | Calcium: 87mg | Iron: 2mg
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#1 Green Smoothie Of all Time— no joke!
About Jen Hansard

Mom of 2, ran across the Grand Canyon and lover of smoothies, coffee & tacos. I transformed my family's health with a realistic plant-based diet. I also found myself again along the way.

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Ratings & Comments

  1. Jackie says:

    What a great recipe! This is a great recipe to make for my lunch for the week. I have it simmering on the stove right now. I tweaked it a bit by adding a can of white beans, some fresh green beans and spinach instead of kale.

    • SGS Rawkstar Jen says:

      I love the tweaks you made Jackie! You can never add too much goodness to a recipe like this— it’s so versatile. Enjoy your lunch this week!

  2. Marie says:

    Such a perfect way for us to use up ingredients we already have on hand so they don’t go to waste. And anything I can make double of and stash away in the freezer is a winner!

    • SGS Rawkstar Jess says:

      I couldn’t agree more, Marie! This is the perfect soup to do just that.

  3. Amanda says:

    This is a soup that feeds the soul!

  4. Sarah Gray says:

    btw I made this — it was great! Thanks!

  5. Connie Power says:

    I made this over the weekend as it was quite cool here in the Midwest. I had never thought about adding kale to my soup. Oh, my goodness, it held up so nicely and was such a great addition! I delivered some to a local college student to help ramp up her nutrition. My daughter said “I don’t even miss the meat, this is SO hearty!” I also used different color carrots which added additional color, flavor, and texture. This is a winner. Thanks for sharing!

    • SGS Rawkstar Jess says:

      I love the addition of different color carrots, I’m going to try that next time I make this!

  6. Teresa says:

    This looks like what I have been looking for. I might substitute beef stock for the veggie as I’m craving beef barley.

    • SGS Rawkstar Jess says:

      That’s one of the great things about these recipes, Teresa! You can tweak them according to what you have on hand + what you are craving!

  7. Erin says:

    Thanks for adding that gluten-free tip at the bottom! Can’t wait to try this soup when it cools down a little.

  8. Jessica says:

    One of my favorite parts about the fall is having soup simmering on the stovetop and filling the kitchen with delicious fall scents. Can’t wait to make this soup!

  9. Sarah Mitchell says:

    This looks amazing… until I saw the mushrooms. I’d def take those out and prob add in more celery and carrots. 🙂

    • SGS Rawkstar Jess says:

      Sarah, def feel free to substitute, add, or decrease the veggies to suit your personal preference. Trust that this recipe is very forgiving! 😀

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