Vegetable Barley Soup

This is the season for soups, right? I am not a fan of cold weather, so I will go anything to get my body warmed up, soup being one of the favorites. I love to do veggie soups, but I have to add grains to make them more substantial. This vegetable barley soup is a good example of a hearty soup we love.

Of you course you can sub in any other grain you like. It is great with farro, buckwheat, quinoa,etc. I also love this soup as it is a clean-out-your-fridge kind out soup. The recipe always varies, depending on what is in the fridge and what need to be used up. I just love barley in soups though, so I use it frequently.

The trifecta I always use for 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. I can just use the flavoring from them. I gave the onions a fairly small dice.

A little bigger for the celery as I like to hold itself together a little better.

Start by sauteing them for several minutes in olive oil.

Add minced garlic towards the end. It burns easily and only needs a few minutes to cook.

I had a few tomatoes needing attention, so they went in.

Squash?? Why not. They get added towards the very end though, they take hardly anytime to cook.

Adding the water, not veggie stock for this recipe.

I love to throw in beans too.

Maybe it is just me, but I love the way whole grains look. It makes me feel so connected to the Earth.

Rinse well.

Make sure and let your soup reduce. This is where the flavor compacts and intensifies.

I didn’t have a chance to make bread, so we served the soup with crackers. We are really into carbs here. There is hardly a meal goes by without some type of carbs.

This is a loaded soup. It is a soup for variables. Use what you have available, especially veggies that are on the verge of going bad. They are perfect for soup.

Here’s to cold winter evenings and warm soup. I guess that is one good thing about this time of year. When you are tucked in at home with a good bowl of soup, it just feel cozy!

Looking for another whole grain soup idea? How about this chicken and buckwheat soup? Want the perfect rolls for this Vegetable Barley Soup? How about these Herb Rolls? Y’all, they are so good!

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Vegetable barley soup

This healthy, flavorful soup is the perfect winter meal.
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword healthy vegetables, hearty soups, recipes with barley, vegetable recipes, vegetarian food, whole grain soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 10 servings
Author Amy- A Red Spatula


  • 2 cups chopped onions size of dice will be determined by whether or not you want to see the onions. If you don't want to see them, do a small dice. If you don't care, medium dice is great.
  • 11/2 cups chopped celery medium dice
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped carrots medium dice
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 cups water or veggie stock I used water, but if you feel like you will need more flavor, use veggie stock.
  • 1 1/2 cups pearl barley
  • 4-6 cups mixed veggies of choice I used zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, spinach and bell peppers.
  • 15 ounce can of white beans you could use more beans if you choose, or even another bean if you prefer. I am telling you, everything in this recipe is a variable!
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • salt and pepper, to taste.


  • Heat olive oil in 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.
    Next, add in your water and bring to a rolling boil. Add barley and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining veggies, beans and spices. Continue to cook until all veggies are al dente, meaning they are cooked, but definitely not mushy.
    I like to top mine with a little parmesan. This is up to you though, it's not necessary!

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