Barley Soup with Vegetables

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I love soup for so many reasons! Not only is it easy to make and super filling, but it reheats and freezes well too. This Barley Vegetable Soup recipe is also super healthy and loaded with wholesome ingredients. It can be a one-pot recipe for the stovetop or even made in a slow cooker.

large stockpot filled with barley soup with vegetables and ladle

My sister–a former veggie-hater–came up with this delicious old-fashioned vegetable barley soup. She has obviously recovered from her veggie-hating days and is now a healthy, plant-based eater that is off all of her medications.

white bowl on green leaf plate full of barley soup

What is barley?

Barley is a widely used whole grain that has a nutty flavor and slightly chewy consistency and can be used in recipes like soups, stews, salads, and more.

It’s packed with fiber and other nutrients and has many heart-healthy benefits like lowering cholesterol and improving digestion.

Most grocery stores carry barley in their dry goods area close to the dry beans and rice section. Some stores may have it in different forms such as hulled barley, pearl, grits, and even flour and flakes.

Barley gluten-free substitution options

Be aware that barley is not gluten-free, but other gluten-free grains such as brown rice, millet, or buckwheat groats can be substituted for it in this soup.

overhead shot of 2 bowls of barley veggie soup with sourdough bread

How to make homemade barley soup from scratch

The recipe card at the bottom of the page has the full list of ingredients with measurements and instructions.

What I really love about this recipe is that it can be made completely from start to finish in one pot or even a slow cooker.

Which vegetables to use

This vegan soup is so versatile that any vegetables you have on hand will make great additions. The vegetables used can be fresh or frozen. Either way, this soup is delicious! These are some of our favorites.

  • Broccoli and cauliflower
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Spinach or cabbage
  • Zucchini and squash
diced onions, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, and celery on cutting board with knife

Begin by washing and dicing up your vegetables of choice into bite-size chunks. You’ll also want to rinse off the barley under warm water.

I am often asked which knives I use personally, and I have to say that it is Victorinox. They are the same company that makes Swiss Army Knives and the quality is excellent.

stock pot filled with onions, cauliflower, potatoes, and vegetable broth

In a large stockpot, add the veggie broth (or water), uncooked barley, onions, cauliflower, and potatoes. Allow these to come to a boil and cook for approximately 10 minutes.

blue and white stockpot full of barley vegetable soup

Next, add all other ingredients (except the spinach). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for approximately 30 minutes.  I wait until this point to add the carrots and celery (and broccoli if using) because these are the veggies that I like to keep a little firmer texture. It’s simply a preference thing, so you could add all the veggies in the first step if desired.

I like to use Tony’s Creole Seasoning in this soup. It adds such a great spicy flavor.  Be forewarned that it has a slight punch. If you do not like your soup a little spicy, begin with 2 Tbsp, or less. Taste and add to your preference.

Slow cooker method & settings

If using a crockpot, I simply add all of the ingredients (except the spinach) to my pot–vegetables and seasoning–and stir them up well.

There are a couple of choices for settings. For slower cooking, set to LOW for 5-6 hours. If you would like to speed up the cooking time, set it to HIGH for approximately 3 hours.

big pot full of soup with barley, vegetables, and spinach

Once the cooking time is up–whether you’re using the stovetop or slower cooker methods--add the spinach leaves and allow them to wilt, approximately 3-5 minutes. These should not be added until the end because they really don’t need to cook, only wilt.

Remove from heat and enjoy! I love to serve this soup with crusty sourdough bread or my cornbread recipe.

white bowl of barley vegetable soup and spoon with crusty bread

Instant Pot instructions

Set to Manual high pressure for 15 minutes. Once it has finished cooking allow for a slow release for 10 minutes then carefully turn the Vent to release pressure.

*Originally published December 2015.

Tips for making barley vegetable soup

  • The recipe calls for using either vegetable broth or water. Using vegetable broth really adds a lot more flavor in my opinion. Another option is to mix it up and use 3 cups veggie broth plus 3 cups water.
  • For the potatoes, I usually leave the peelings on mine, but they can be peeled before adding to the soup if preferred.
  • If you’re in a hurry, all of the vegetables can be added at the same time.
  • Covering the pot during cooking can reduce the cooking time by 5-10 minutes.
  • Be aware that barley is not gluten-free, but other gluten-free grains such as brown rice, millet, or buckwheat groats can be substituted for it in this soup.
  • Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Freezes well.

Other great vegan soup recipes

For those of you new to the whole food plant-based lifestyle, we’ve created a FREE 7-Day Plant-Based Menu Planner to help you get started!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.

Drenda-Michell Brennan

About the Chef

Drenda-Michell Brennan lived in Japan in the 1990s and learned many traditional Asian cooking methods. She is the mother of 3 Japanese-American grown children and grandmother (HuneyGram) to 8 grandchildren. She also happens to be the sister of Terri Edwards, of EatPlant-Based. Read more about her story in this article, From Veggie Hater to Plant-Based.

If you try this recipe, please let us know how you like it by rating it and leaving a comment. We love to hear from you!

large stockpot filled with barley soup with vegetables and ladle
4.75 from 16 votes

Barley Vegetable Soup

I love soup for so many reasons! Not only is it easy to make and super filling, but it reheats and freezes well too. This barley vegetable soup recipe is also super healthy and loaded with wholesome ingredients. It can be a one-pot recipe for the stovetop or even made in a slow cooker.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients 

  • 6 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1/2 cup uncooked barley
  • 2 cups potatoes diced
  • 1 cup broccoli or cauliflower or both, in bite size
  • 1 cup onion diced
  • 2 stalks celery approx 1/2 cup, diced
  • 1 cup carrots diced
  • 2 15 oz cans fire roasted tomatoes, or roast your own fresh tomatoes
  • 8 oz tomato juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2-3 tablespoons Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • large handful fresh spinach leaves

Instructions

  • What I really love about this recipe is that it can be made completely from start to finish in one pot or even a slow cooker. Begin by washing and dicing up your vegetables of choice into bite-size chunks. You'll also want to rinse off the barley under warm water.
  • In a large stockpot, add the veggie broth (or water), uncooked barley, onions, cauliflower, and potatoes. Allow these to come to a boil and cook for approximately 10 minutes.
  • Next, add all other ingredients(except the spinach). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for approximately 30 minutes.  I wait until this point to add the carrots and celery (and broccoli if using) because these are the veggies that I like to keep a little firmer texture. It's simply a preference thing, so you could add all the veggies in the first step if desired.
  • I like to use in this soup. It adds such a great spicy flavor.  Be forewarned that it has a slight punch. If you do not like your soup a little spicy, begin with 2 Tbsp, or less. Taste and add to your preference.
  • Once the cooking time is up--whether you're using the stovetop or slower cooker methods--add the spinach leaves and allow them to wilt, for approximately 3-5 minutes. These should not be added until the end because they really don't need to cook, only wilt.
  • Remove from heat and enjoy! I love to serve this soup with crusty sourdough bread or my cornbread recipe.

Crockpot Instructions & Settings

  • If using a crockpot, I simply add all of the ingredients (except the spinach) to my pot--vegetables and seasoning--and stir them up well.
  • There are a couple of choices for settings. For slower cooking, set it to LOW for 5-6 hours. If you want to speed up the cooking time, set it to HIGH for approximately 3 hours.

Instant Pot Instructions

  • Set to Manual high pressure for 15 minutes. Once it has finished cooking allow for a slow release for 10 minutes then carefully turn the Vent to release pressure.

Video

Notes

Tips & Suggestions:
  • The recipe calls for using either vegetable broth or water. Using vegetable broth really adds a lot more flavor in my opinion. Another option is to mix it up and use 3 cups veggie broth plus 3 cups water.
  • For the potatoes, I usually leave the peelings on mine, but they can be peeled before adding to the soup if preferred.
  • If you're in a hurry, all of the vegetables can be added at the same time.
  • Covering the pot during cooking can reduce the cooking time by 5-10 minutes.
  • Be aware that barley is not gluten-free, but other gluten-free grains such as brown rice, millet, or buckwheat groats can be substituted for it in this soup.
  • Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Freezes well.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 230kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 4g | Fiber: 10g

Disclaimer

To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

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16 Comments

  1. The soup looks great. Is there anything else I can use for the spices other than Tony’s creole seasoning?

    1. Anita, Tony’s creole can be left out completely. If you want to add a little more flavor, any combination of some of these will help–paprika, dried oregano, ground black pepper, dried basil, salt, cayenne pepper, granulated onion, dried thyme, and granulated garlic.

  2. Question, you state that it serves 6. IS that 1 cup, 1 1/2 cup or 2 cups portion?
    Thank you, I enjoy your recipes.

  3. Made this for lunch and had a cup for an evening snack. So good. The first time I have tried the Creole seasoning.

    1. Barbara, yes you can use hulled barley for this recipe. The cook time will just need to be increased. In step #3, instead of cooking for 30 minutes, I would suggest increasing that to 45 minutes.

  4. Terri you do a great job photographing your recipes. I love vegetable barley soup so when your email came I knew I was going to be in visual-sensory heaven.

    The work you do is so beyond my ability to organize that I cannot begin to imagine your daily routines.

    We are having a beautiful fall here in the eastern Midwest, a perfect time to make a batch of this soup to have on hand. Oh and, heck yeah, crusty sourdough bread is a must!

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