This vegetable barley soup is a hearty soup my whole family loves! Adding grains to a simple vegetable soup makes it more substantial. You can make a batch of this bean and barley soup in about an hour but it's mostly hands-off cooking.
Need a new warm soup for cold winter evenings? This barley vegetable soup is just the solution you need!
Nothing is better than when you are tucked in at home with a good bowl of soup, it just feels so cozy! If you enjoy this vegetarian barley soup recipe, you might also love this lentil and sweet potato soup or lentil and spinach soup.
Why This Recipe Works
- Veggie barley soup is a great way to sneak more veggies into your meals.
- Tons of flexibility when making this vegetarian vegetable soup recipe.
- A budget-friendly soup to add to meals.
- A great way to clean out the produce drawer in your fridge!
Ingredients You Need
Making barley vegetable soup uses simple, wholesome ingredients that are easy to find.
- Veggies: The trifecta I always use as a base for almost all my soups is onions, celery, and carrots. As long as I have these, well and garlic, I don't feel like I need to add in vegetable stock as they’re enough to flavor the broth.
- Garlic: Use fresh garlic for the best flavor.
- Olive oil: A great option for the oil to cook the veggies but you can swap it with another oil if you prefer.
- Pearl barley: This type of barley is processed the most but still contains tons of nutrition.
- Mixed veggies: I used zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, spinach, and bell peppers. This part of the recipe is totally flexible so you can use the veggies you prefer. Others that will work include mushrooms, kale, green beans, and winter squash.
- White beans: Really any type of bean you prefer you can use here!
- Herbs: Oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary.
Check the recipe card for the full list of ingredients and quantities.
Substitutions and Variations
- No interested in barley? Sub with another grain you like. It is great with farro, buckwheat, or quinoa too.
- Veggies: This barley vegetable soup recipe is a clean-out-your-fridge kind of soup. The recipe always varies, depending on what is in the fridge and what needs to be used up.
- White beans: You can swap it out with any type of white beans, pinto beans, cranberry beans, or even lentils.
- Feel it needs more intense flavor? Feel free to use vegetable broth in place of the water in the recipe!
How to Make Vegetable Barley Soup
- Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or an enameled cast iron over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook stirring occasionally for 5-10 minutes until the veggies start to soften.
- Add the garlic next. Cook this for about 2-3 minutes. Garlic burns quickly, so no need to saute for very long.
- Add the barley to the veggies.
- Add the water (or broth) to the veggies. Bring to a boil and cook for fifteen minutes.
- Add the remaining veggies, beans, and spices. Continue to cook until all veggies are al dente, meaning they are cooked, but definitely not mushy.
- When the barley and vegetables are cooked and tender the soup is ready to serve! We love it topped with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
TOP TIP: The longer you cook the soup, the flavor compacts and intensifies.
What to Serve with Barley Soup
This beans and barley soup is perfect to serve year-round but it's especially delicious when there's a bit of chill in the air.
- Soup goes great with bread or crackers! If you love baking (like me) try out these parmesan bread bites, einkorn cornbread, or homemade sprouted wheat bread.
- If you want something heartier add a simple sandwich! Such as grilled cheese on homemade multigrain bread, hot ham sandwiches, or a green goddess sandwich.
- Top your soup! Cheese is a simple option that adds a burst of flavor. We love parmesan but you can use any flavorful cheese you enjoy. For a bit of crunch, croutons make a nice way to top soup.
How to Store
- Leftovers: Store the soup in airtight containers after it's completely cooled. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days or in the freezer for up to three months.
- Reheat: Return the soup to a pot and heat over medium heat on the stove until heated through. As it sits, the barley absorbs some of the liquid so you may need to add some vegetable broth or water to thin it out a bit.
Expert Tips and FAQs
- This is a loaded soup and one that's easy to change up. Use what you have available, especially veggies that are on the verge of going bad. They are perfect for soup.
- Extending the cooking time on the soup allows it to intensify the flavor more.
- For a meaty approach to barley soup, you might love this beef barley soup recipe.
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Vegetable Barley Soup
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cups chopped onions
- 1 ½ cups chopped celery medium dice
- 1 ½ cups chopped carrots medium dice
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 quart vegetable broth
- 6 cups water
- 1 ½ cups pearl barley
- 4-6 cups mixed veggies of choice I used green beans, yellow zucchini, and bell peppers
- 2 15 ounce can of white beans
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- ½ tablespoon basil
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon rosemary
- salt and pepper, to taste.
- Parmesan for topping
- 1 cup chopped spinach
- Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or enameled cast iron like I used, over medium heat. Add vegetables and stir occasionally for 5-10 minutes until veggies start to soften.
- Garlic is next. Cook this for about 2-3 minutes. Garlic burns quickly, so no need to saute for very long.
- Add barley and water. Bring it to a rolling boil and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add remaining veggies, beans, and spices. Continue to cook until all veggies and the barley are al dente, meaning they are cooked, but definitely not mushy.
- I like to top it with a little parmesan cheese for serving, but this is up to you.