This vegetarian mushroom barley soup is the perfect cold-weather stew. It's filled with hearty flavors and healthy veggies and requires just 15 minutes of active time!
Mushroom barley soup is just the recipe you need on those extra chilly winter days. It's hearty as can be, thanks to ingredients like mushrooms, potatoes, and carrots.
- Dietary-features: vegetarian, vegan, nut-free, soy-free optional
- Hearty and healthy: filled with veggies and whole grains
- Easy to make using classic stew ingredients and pantry staples
- Filled with rich flavors from red wine and mushrooms
This barley soup is simple to make. After prepping and sauteing the vegetables, it's one of those "throw it in the pot and forget it" recipes. The longer it simmers, the tastier the soup becomes!
Don't fear: It may look like a lot of ingredients, but I bet you already have most of them on hand.
- Russet potatoes create a hearty base. I leave the peel on for extra depth and nutrition but you can peel the potatoes if you prefer. Yukon gold potatoes also work.
- Diced tomatoes combine with vegetable broth and tomato paste to create the soup base. Choose a reduced-sodium vegetable broth for more control over salt level.
- Mushrooms: Baby bella (also known as crimin) mushrooms are my go-to. White mushrooms also work.
- Pearl barley is a slightly chewy whole grain that contributes fiber, vitamins, and minerals as well as a nutty flavor.
- Onion, carrots, and garlic create the savory base of the mushroom soup.
- Wine adds depth of flavor to the broth. Choose a dry red wine like Merlot or Pinot Noir. You don't have to use an expensive or fancy wine, but don't use the wine that's been open for a few days and just needs to be used up.
- Protein: Add a can or two of chickpeas or white beans for extra plant-based protein. You can also saute your favorite brand of veggie sausage for extra flavor and protein.
- The potatoes and barley soak up a lot of liquid, so if you're eating this soup for leftovers you may need to add an extra splash of vegetable broth before reheating.
- Alcohol from the wine will simmer out and you'll be left with just the wine flavor. If you prefer to skip the wine, just add an equal amount of vegetable broth. I use wine often in vegetarian soups (like this tortellini soup) because it adds depth that meat usually adds.
- Choose a low sodium vegetable broth so that you have more control over salt content in the soup.
Hull barley, also known simply as barley, is the complete version of barley. Pearl barley is hulled, meaning that the outermost layer is removed. This means that pearl barley is quicker to cook, but it has some of its nutrients taken away. For this recipe, we will use pearl barley. If you accidentally grab regular barley, don't worry. The barley will just take a little longer to cook.
Keep leftovers refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days. Reheat individual servings in the microwave in 2 minutes, or reheat the entire soup on the stove over medium heat.
Yes, barley soup freezes well. Let cool to room temperature before transferring to freezer-safe containers. You can freeze the entire batch or freeze it in individual servings for a quick grab-and-go soup. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Top with crackers and Parmesan. I love serving soup with homemade yeast rolls or drop biscuits. For a filling meal, serve this barley soup with grilled cheese or veggie Reuben. It also goes well with a side kale salad.
No, barley does not need to be soaked or cooked before adding it to the soup. The soup contains enough liquid to fully cook the barley.
Looking for more soup recipes?
Did you try this recipe? You can leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ in the recipe card or a review down in the comments section. I always appreciate your feedback! You can also follow along on my YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest or sign up for my newsletter!
Vegetarian Mushroom Barley Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 16 ounces baby bella mushrooms roughly chopped, see note #1
- 1 cup diced yellow onion ~1 medium onion
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4-5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 large carrots peeled and sliced into coins
- 1 pound russet potatoes peeled and cut into 1" pieces
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme
- 1 14-15 ounce can diced tomatoes
- ¾ cup dry red wine see note #2
- ⅔ cup dry pearl barley
- 4 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth see note #3
- for topping: freshly ground black pepper Parmesan, and fresh chopped parsley
- In a large stockpot or dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot add chopped mushrooms and diced onions. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon salt. Saute until softened and juices are released, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add minced garlic and tomato paste, sauteing a minute more, until garlic is golden brown and aromatic.
- Stir in carrot coins, potatoes, parsley, dry thyme, diced tomatoes (including juices), red wine, dry pearl barley, and vegetable broth.
- Stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer over low heat. Cover partially (there should be a small sliver uncovered) and simmer until potatoes are tender and barley is cooked through, about 40-50 minutes.
- Serve topped with freshly ground black pepper, fresh parmesan (or vegan parmesan) and parsley.
- Mushrooms: White mushrooms can also be used.
- Wine: Choose a dry red wine like Merlot or Pinot Noir. You don't have to use an expensive or fancy wine, but don't use the wine that's been open for a few days and just needs to be used up.
- Reduced sodium vegetable broth: Choose a vegetable broth labeled with "low sodium" or "reduced sodium". This will allow you to better control the amount of salt in the soup.
- Leftovers: Keep leftovers refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days. Reheat individual servings in the microwave in 2 minutes, or reheat the entire soup on the stove over medium heat. You may need to add an extra splash of vegetable broth when reheating.
- Freezing instructions: Let cool to room temperature before transferring to freezer-safe containers. You can freeze the entire batch or freeze it in individual servings. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.