All-Time Favorite Vegetable Barley Soup

I’ve been making this Vegetable Barley Soup for years and it never disappoints.  It’s hearty, healthy and delicious, and is the perfect cornerstone for a vegetarian meal coupled with my shredded kale salad a big Italian salad with garbanzo beans.

Barley is an underused whole grain.  We should use it more often because it is soft and filling, loaded with fiber and selenium which protects us against degenerative diseases, and contains a good amount of protein per serving.

One thing I love about making this soup is you can add in any vegetables or herbs that you may have in your house to avoid waste.  That is one of the best parts about cooking!  Don’t be afraid to take liberties with recipes and change things up a bit to create your own versions!  For example, this soup calls for shiitake mushrooms, carrots, onions, spinach and parsley.  I added broccoli, yellow pepper and fresh basil since they were sitting in the fridge waiting to be used!

A note on shiitake mushrooms:  Asian mushrooms are the healthiest of all the mushrooms. I love the deep earthy flavor they add to this soup. Shiitakes contain lentinan, an active compound that is an immune-booster and a cancer-fighter.  Make friends with lentinan.  Although I absolutely love mushrooms, I usually have to omit them from the soup because my husband Phil hates mushrooms. Thinking maybe I should have checked on that before I married him 28 years ago. 😉

Vegetable Barley Soup

A hearty soup that can be the cornerstone of a vegetarian meal.

Course Soup
Cuisine Vegetarian and Vegan
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1/2 pound shitake mushrooms stems removed, mushrooms diced
  • 1 14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 quart organic low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup dried barley
  • 5 ounces baby spinach chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian flat leaf parsley chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil chopped


  1. Cook onion, garlic and carrot with ½ t. salt, thyme and coriander in the heated olive oil in large stock pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is pale golden, about 10 minutes.  

  2. Stir in tomatoes with their juice, stock, barley and ½ t. salt and pepper. Cover and simmer briskly, until barley is tender, about 50 minutes. (If using quick cooking barley, cook for about 15 minutes).  

  3. Add diced mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are soft, about 7 minutes. 

  4. Stir in spinach, parsley and basil and cook 3 minutes. Season with extra salt and pepper if needed.

Recipe Notes

You can always add a little extra broth or water to this soup if it thickens more than you like as you cook it or even the next day.  I like to eat it thick.  If you add water, you may need a touch more salt and pepper as well.  

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