Make nutritious and simple one-pot healthy vegetable barley soup for a wholesome lunch or dinner. A hearty soup that you can make with a few clean ingredients from your pantry.
What can be more comforting than a warm bowl of soup during chilly winter nights?
I guess the soup will get the most votes for winter foods. Don’t you think so? When this soup is healthy, what else does our body need to fight the chilly temperatures outside?
Since I started writing this blog, I have become even pickier about what we eat. I started incorporating more whole grains instead of refined flour into our diet than before. This is what the healthy food pyramid suggests to have for a balanced diet. You can find recipes using whole grains, like one-pot Mexican brown rice, cilantro-lime quinoa, and whole wheat dinner rolls, to name a few on the website.
Initially, I made this whole grain barley soup spontaneously with ingredients that I had in my pantry at that time. We liked it so much that we decided to share this simple version of soup with you all. One bowl of this vegetable barley soup and dinner is done.
From a happy reader — “I love this recipe. It’s quick, easy, & healthy. My daughter approves, and she’s weirdly not even a soup person. I’ve made this a few times a year for the last several years.“
Let’s get started!
This barley soup is filling and contains very simple ingredients that are common and readily available.
Vegetables – use fresh veggies like carrots, celery, green onion, and tomato. You can also use green peas, edamame beans, kale, etc., to make this soup richer in veggies.
Barley – Use whole-grain barley to make the soup filling and rich in fibers. Read more about the type of barley to use in soup below.
Broth/Stock – use chicken broth to add rich flavors to the soup. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can use vegetable broth instead.
Seasoning/Flavors/Spices – I used fresh garlic and ginger to add flavors to the soup. However, you can skip the ginger if you don’t like it. In addition, use thyme, salt, and black pepper to season the soup.
Type of barley to use in soup
There are two types of barley available in the market. One is hulled, and the other is pearl barley. Hulled barley is a whole grain with just the outer indigestible layer of the husk removed, while pearl barley is polished and free from the bran layer. The difference is similar between brown and white rice.
Also, pearl barley takes a little less time to cook than the whole one. And it is commonly available variety in grocery stores. Therefore, I prefer using pearl barley in making soups at home as it is easily available.
Avoid using quick cooking or instant barley when making this soup. It will cook faster than other veggies in the soup and will overcook and spoil its desired consistency.
Fact – Barley is not a gluten grain. Though it contains very little gluten, it can trigger allergies in gluten-sensitive people.
Make it richer in veggies. Use green peas, edamame beans, kale, mushrooms, etc., to enhance the nutrition in the soup.
For a quick and easy meal, you can make this vegetable barley soup in Instant Pot.
How to cook vegetable barley soup
Step 1 – Sauté some fresh garlic and ginger in oil on medium heat. Then, cook onion until translucent for a couple of minutes.
Step 2 – Add diced carrot, celery, tomato, barley, and liquid (including broth and water) and thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring this mixture to a boil. Then cover and cook it on low heat until the barley is nice and tender.
Step 3 – Finally, garnish with spring onions and serve warm.
Readers’ Feedback – Some folks reported they did not like the ginger in the soup, while others absolutely loved using it. Therefore, using ginger in this soup is optional and depends on one’s personal preference.
- Cover the soup pot while cooking the barley soup on low heat. It will help cook the barley a little faster and also prevent the water from evaporating quickly.
- Do not overcook the barley in the soup; otherwise, it will result in a slimy texture.
- Keep extra chicken or veggie broth handy and add to the soup while cooking if necessary.
How is this barley soup healthy?
This barley soup is prepared using whole-grain barley and fresh vegetables like carrots, celery, and tomatoes. Therefore, it is loaded with nutrients from the veggies. Also, this soup is very low in saturated fat.
How to store and reheat the barley soup
Store leftover soup in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Leftover soup tends to dry up; therefore, before using it next time, add some chicken or veggie broth if necessary and bring the soup to boil on the stovetop. Serve while it is warm.
You can also heat the soup in the microwave for 2-3 min, depending upon the quantity. Again, add some broth before heating if necessary.
Yes. You can substitute barley with other whole grains like brown rice, millet, quinoa, etc. However, cooking times may vary depending on the grain type.
No, barley is not a gluten-free grain. It contains very little gluten, which can be problematic for gluten-sensitive people.
There is no need to soak barley before using it in the soup, and I prefer cooking it directly to avoid the extra soaking step.
More soup recipes to try
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Healthy Vegetable Barley Soup
- ¾ cup pearl barley
- 1 celery stalk diced into small pieces
- 1 onion diced into small pieces
- 1-2 medium carrot peeled and diced into small pieces
- 1 tomato diced into small pieces
- 2-3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if vegan)
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
- ¼ cup chopped spring onions
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- salt and pepper
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add ginger, garlic and saute until fragrant for about 30-40 sec
- Add onions and saute until lightly golden brown for about a min. or two
- Then add all the remaining ingredients except spring onions and let it boil.
- Simmer on low heat for about 30 min. or until the barley is tender
- Garnish with spring onions and serve warm to enjoy a bowl of barley soup