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.
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. 😉
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.
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:
- green beans
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).
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.
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:
- Ultimate Vegan Pumpkin Soup
- Minestrone Soup
- Thai Coconut Soup
- Upgraded Vegetable Soup
- Split pea soup
- Vegetarian tortilla soup
- Carrot ginger soup
Vegetable Barley SoupRate this Recipe Print Recipe
- 2 tablespoon olive oil (divided)
- 2 carrots (diced)
- 3 stalks celery (diced)
- ½ cup yellow onion (minced)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- ½ cup quick-cooking pearl barley (see recipe notes)
- 8 ounces mushrooms (sliced)
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon 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.