This vegan barley soup recipe is not only easy to make, but it’s also delicious and full of flavor. Who doesn’t like a hot bowl of soup on a cold night?
Why you’ll love this recipe
- It’s made in one pot.
- Made with simple ingredients
- Has rich flavor
- It has an easy cooking process
- It’s healthy and filling
- Full of vegetables
What is Barley?
Barley is a cereal grain that is most commonly used in cooking to make dishes such as soups, stews, and porridge. It’s also used to feed animals and make beer, among other things.
Barley is also used as an ingredient in some types of breads, cereals, and pastas.
There are two main types of barley used in cooking: pearl barley and hulled barley.
Pearl barley is the most common type of barley used in cooking. It is a polished, or “pearled,” grain that has had the husk removed. It has a smooth texture and cooks relatively quickly, making it a great choice for soups and stews.
Hulled barley, also known as whole grain barley, has a higher nutritional value than pearl barley because it still has its outer hull intact. This type of barley takes a lot longer to cook than pearl barley, but it has a chewy texture that makes it a great addition to salads or side dishes. It also works well as an ingredient in some types of breads and cereals.
Ingredients and substitutions
Check out the recipe card at the bottom of this port for the full ingredients list and instructions.
- Olive oil- you can use any oil you have on hand that has a neutral flavor, like vegetable oil, canola oil, etc. It won’t change the flavor in this. You can also leave out the oil and use vegetable broth or plain water to saute the vegetables. The fat in the oil does help with the flavor, but if you’re watching your oil intake, it won’t mess up the recipe.
- Portabella mushrooms- I like portabellas or baby Bella mushrooms for this because they have a robust flavor, but you can also use shitake mushrooms if you’d rather. Any mushroom you love the taste of will work here.
- Cremini mushrooms- these are more of a mild mushroom flavor which is why I wanted a mix of the two different types of mushrooms. You can also use white mushrooms, but the Cremini adds a little bit of a meaty texture to the dish.
- Carrots- this helps make it a veggie barley soup. They add beautiful color as well as flavor. If you hate carrots, you can leave them out, but I recommend keeping them.
- Celery- adds a fresh flavor and color to the soup. Celery doesn’t taste strong when cooked, but it adds a delicious savoriness to the soup.
- Fresh garlic is a must in the recipe. I wouldn’t use garlic powder unless you absolutely have to. There is something about that fresh garlic flavor in soups that make all the difference.
- Onion- is a staple in soups, and this soup is no different. I love using fresh onions. If you are out, you can use dehydrated onions in a pinch, but it’s not the same as using the real deal. You can use a yellow onion, white onion, or sweet onion.
- Dried oregano- this is actually the only spice in this recipe outside of salt and pepper to taste. This may seem like a small amount, but oregano is a robust herb that adds a lot of flavors.
- Pearled barley- we discussed the different types of barley above, but pearled barley is the only one you want to use for this vegetable barley soup recipe. Do not use the quick cooking one, and the hulled barley would take way too long to cook.
- Vegetable broth or vegan chicken broth– I would use my recipe for vegan chicken broth; yes, it’s a couple more steps, but it is SO full of flavor and super delicious! If you don’t, you can use any vegetable broth you like the flavor of.
Taste and Texture
Barley has a slightly nutty flavor and chewy texture. It makes for a great add-on for soups. The soup has the same type of feel as a vegan chicken noodle soup but with barley instead of pasta.
How to make vegan barley soup
Start with a large soup pot, add 1-2 TB of oil, and heat up on high heat.
Add the celery, carrots, onion, and both types of mushrooms. Cook on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring as needed.
Add minced garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano, and stir for about 30 seconds.
Now add the vegetable stock or vegan chicken broth and 1 cup of the pearled uncooked barley and stir to mix everything well.
Let this come to a boil on high heat, then drop it down to medium-low and let simmer, cooking for 45-60 minutes until the barley is cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Expert Tips and Tricks
- There are different types of barley, and they cook differently depending on the variety, so make sure to use uncooked pearl barley.
- You can change out the type of mushrooms, but you can’t leave them out completely. That’s what helps make this soup filling and a more flavourful broth.
- You want a flavorful broth since you depend on that for a lot of the flavor. This vegan chicken broth makes for a really flavorful soup.
- If you’re using my vegan chicken broth recipe, I would use the full recipe of the broth and the rest of the cups in water.
How to Serve
This is best served as bowls of soup with some crusty bread or even some garlic bread. You can also serve this easy recipe with soup crackers and a salad.
How to store and freeze pearl barley soup
If you need to store leftovers, here’s how; it’s best to let it come to room temperature and then place it in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days.
You can heat it in the microwave or back on the stovetop when you want to eat it again.
You can freeze this soup in a large batch or a single serving. Let the soup cool, and then place it in a freezer-safe container in the freezer for 3-6 months.
Let this defrost in the fridge before reheating on the stovetop on medium heat until warmed thoroughly.
Variations and Ad-ons
If you want to bulk up the soup, you can add white beans, more fresh vegetables, small pasta, or whatever you like to add.
A vegan vegetable and barley soup has a lot of nutritional benefits.
It is a great source of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals like vitamins A and C, folate, and potassium.
Barley is a whole grain that is packed with fiber, manganese, selenium, and B vitamins.
The fiber in the soup helps to keep you feeling full for longer and can help reduce cholesterol levels. Additionally, the soup is high in antioxidants, which help to protect against disease and fight inflammation. All in all, this hearty vegetable barley soup is a great choice for a healthy and nutritious meal!
Is there a gluten-free option?
Sadly, this vegan mushroom barley soup cannot be made gluten-free unless you don’t use barley, and then it wouldn’t be barley soup. I have plenty of other delicious vegan soups that are gluten-free.
Can I make this in the Instant Pot?
I have yet to make it in the Instant pot, but you definitely could. I would cut the water back to 8 cups. Use the saute function to cook the vegetables and oil, then add the remaining ingredients and cook on manual for about 20 minutes, then carefully quickly release.
If it’s still not cooked, I would put the lid back on or cook it for longer.
Is barley soup good for you?
I’m not a nutritionist, but yes, it’s full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Do you have to cook barley before putting it into soup?
No, not for this recipe; you want the barley to soak up some of that broth.
Recipes you may like
- 1-2 TB oil
- 1/2 pound portabella mushrooms
- 1 pound cremini mushrooms
- 1 1/2 cups carrots,chopped
- 1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 cup pearled barley
- 8-10 cups vegetable broth or vegan chicken broth
- salt and pepper to taste
- Start with a large pot and add your 1-2 TB of oil and heat up on high heat.
- Add the celery, carrots, onion and both types of mushrooms. Cook on medium high-heat for about 5 minutes stirring as needed.
- Add the minced garlic, some salt and pepper, and oregano, stir for about 30 seconds.
- Now add the vegetable or vegan chicken broth and 1 cup of the pearled uncooked barley stir to mix everything well.
- Let this come to a boil on high-heat then drop it down to medium-low and let simmer cooking for 45-60 minutes, until the barley is cooked. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
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