Classic Mushroom Barley Soup

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This mushroom barley soup is delicious, comforting, and loaded with savory flavor! Super easy to make and hearty enough for a meal, it’s guaranteed to warm you up when it’s cold out.

Simple mushroom barley soup is one of my own personal favorite comfort foods. I shared a recipe for creamy vegan mushroom barley soup a few years back, and while I love that soup, sometimes I find myself craving a simplified version. This one is just as hearty and delicious as the creamy version, but it’s brothy and not as rich. It’s also quite a bit easier to make!

This particular version is adapted from an old family recipe that I used to have jotted down on an index card. I’d bust it out every winter to cook up batch after batch of the stuff.

I’ve adapted and adjusted the recipe over the years and it’s just gotten better and better. A big bowl of this simple vegan soup is so incredibly soothing when it’s cold outside.

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  • Ingredients You’ll Need
  • How It’s Made
  • Leftovers & Storage
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • More Soup Recipes
  • Classic Mushroom Barley Soup

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Olive oil. This recipe calls for a decent amount of oil, as this is what’s needed to brown the mushrooms properly. You can cut back on the amount if you’d like, but I find the mushrooms cook up best with plenty of oil.
  • Mushrooms. We’re using cremini mushrooms (also known as baby bella mushrooms), but you can absolutely substitute with other varieties of fresh mushrooms if you’d like. White button mushrooms, shiitakes, and portobello mushrooms will all work.
  • Onion.
  • Carrots.
  • Celery.
  • Garlic.
  • White wine. You can leave this out if you prefer to cook without alcohol.
  • Spices. We’re using dried thyme and fresh sage.
  • Pearl barley. Hulled barley can be substituted if that’s what you have on hand, but you’ll need to roughly double the simmer time and add a bit more liquid as it reduces. It’s also a good idea to soak hulled barley for a few hours before cooking.
  • Vegetable broth.
  • Salt & pepper.
  • Fresh parsley. This is optional, but I love sprinkling a bit on top of my soup for a burst of freshness.

How It’s Made

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

  • Cook sliced mushrooms first in a generous amount of olive oil. You’ll want to cook them for a few minutes on each side, until they brown. Remove them from the pot when they’re done.
  • Sweat diced onion, carrots and celery in a bit more olive oil. Cook them until they soften, then add minced garlic.

Tip: Consider cooking the mushrooms in batches to avoid crowding the pot too much, which can prevent them from browning. I cooked mine in two batches.

  • Return the mushrooms to the pot, add the wine and herbs, and simmer briefly until the liquid reduces by about half. Now add the barley and broth.
  • Raise the heat, bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer until the barley is tender.

Tip: Add water to the pot if the broth reduces too much while cooking. I like to keep a kettle of hot water on the stove so I can add as needed without cooling down the soup.

  • Remove the pot from heat and season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Ladle your mushroom barley soup into bowls and optionally top each one with a sprinkle of fresh parsley.

Leftovers & Storage

Leftover mushroom barley soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days, or in the freezer for 3 months. The barley will continue to soak up liquid as it sits, so you may need to thin the soup with some broth or water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does barley contain gluten?

Yes, barley does contain gluten. If you need a gluten-free substitute, try wild rice, brown rice, or quinoa. You’ll need to adjust the cook time with any substitutions.

What is the difference between pearl barley and hulled barley?

Pearled barley is barley that has had the outer husk, bran layer and germ removed, whereas hulled barley has only the husk removed. Hulled barley is therefore somewhat more nutritious, but takes longer to cook.

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