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Mushroom Barley Soup

5 from 20 votes

This hearty, filling, and wholesome vegetarian mushroom barley soup recipe is the perfect healthy option for a cold winter day.

healthy mushroom soup

Healthy mushroom barley soup

I wanted to share this super comforting soup recipe for everyone in search of nutritious lunch or dinner ideas.

This is basically my answer to those popular winter detox cleanses where the only thing you’re allowed to consume is green juice or honey water with cayenne pepper.

If you do like cleanses, do not let me stop you. I just prefer to combat that sluggish I’ve-eaten-way-too-many-holiday-cookies feeling with balanced meals like this healthy and nourishing mushroom barley soup recipe.

The recipe is really simple to make at home.

And it is ideal for cold weather days and evenings, when you want to pull the blankets up and stay in bed or bundle up next to a warm fireplace.

If you must venture outside in the cold, take comfort in knowing that a hot bowl of soup waits for you upon your return.

Also try this 5 ingredient Coconut Curry

mushroom barley soup

Easy homemade mushroom soup

This is one of my favorite soup recipes, and I’ve been making it for years.

The initial push to create a mushroom barley soup recipe came after I was no longer able to buy a packaged version I’d loved in college, from the famous vegetarian Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York.

Their vegan mushroom barley soup was a comfort food staple for me when I was living in the dorms without access to an oven or stove. I would often eat it in my tiny closet of a dorm room, alongside whatever type of roll or bread I was able to get from the dining hall that day.

While this plant based dinner was not gourmet by any means, it was cozy, comforting, and extra delicious. And it was perfect for a girl living on her own for the first time who missed a healthy, home cooked meal.

Readers also love this Vegan Ramen Recipe

Mushroom barley soup recipe video

Watch the step by step recipe video above

barley soup

Vegetarian mushroom barley soup ingredients

The recipe calls for vegetable broth, minced garlic, sliced mushrooms, onion, carrot, optional celery, pearl barley, salt, dried thyme, and rosemary.

I normally use white button mushrooms for the soup. Feel free to mix and match with porcini mushrooms, portabella mushrooms, maitake mushrooms, and oyster or king trumpet mushrooms.

You can also substitute rice for some or all of the barley if you prefer.

The celery is optional. However, I do not recommend omitting either the carrots or the onion, because these ingredients are vital to creating the flavor of the recipe.

Sometimes I will add black beans, white beans, or lentils for protein. Or you can throw in a handful of raw spinach, kale, or other green leafy vegetables for added nutrition.

With no eggs, heavy cream, or dairy, the soup is vegan as long as you use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth or beef stock.

For a richer broth, add two tablespoons of butter, olive oil, or tahini. Or for a low fat, oil free, and low calorie soup recipe, it is still tasty if you skip this ingredient.

As I wrote in my Buffalo Chickpea Chili recipe, I like to use Trader Joes mirepoix vegetable blend when a recipe calls for diced onion, celery, and carrot. This trick means you are not left with a ton of extra celery. And it prevents your eyes from hurting and watering while chopping onions.

If you notice in the above recipe video that a few pieces of celery show up out of nowhere when I add the onion, this is the reason why.

The soup calls for fresh mushrooms. If you try swapping them with reconstituted dried mushrooms instead, be sure to report back with results.

Leftover mushrooms? Make homemade Mushroom Gravy

mushroom soup

How to make the recipe

For added flavor if you wish, start by sautéing the onion and minced garlic in butter or oil. Cook for five minutes or until the onion begins to brown.

Combine all soup ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat.

Once the broth is boiling, cover the pot. Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for one hour or until the carrots are soft.

For best results, it is important to continue cooking until the carrots are soft. If you stop while they are still somewhat crunchy, the soup will not be as flavorful.

Serve right away, ladling the mushroom barley soup into individual bowls.

If desired, garnish each bowl with a sprig of rosemary or a sprinkle of crispy fried onions or bacon bits. Many brands of bacon bits are surprisingly vegetarian.

Or let the contents of the pot cool before dividing into airtight containers and refrigerating leftovers. This soup tastes even better the next day.

Note: You can use a slow cooker, pressure cooker, or instant pot to make the soup instead of cooking it on the stove top if preferred.

Vegan Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe
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Mushroom Barley Soup

This vegetarian mushroom barley soup is the perfect healthy soup recipe for a cold or rainy day.
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour
Yield 7 cups
5 from 20 votes


  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 12 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 1/2 cups diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced celery, or additional carrot or onion
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley (rice will also work)
  • 2 tbsp butter, oil, or tahini, optional for a richer flavor
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tsp salt


  • If desired, sauté the onion and garlic in the butter or oil first, 5 minutes or until the onion begins to brown. (This adds extra flavor, but you can skip this step and simply combine all ingredients at the same time if you want.) Combine all ingredients in a medium pot, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pot and lower to a simmer for 1 hour. Or you can use a slow cooker if you’d prefer. The soup tastes much more flavorful the day after it’s made. Leftovers can also be frozen.
    Instant Pot Version: Cook the barley first (either in the instant pot or on the stove), then add everything to your instant pot and cook 3 minutes.
    View Nutrition Facts


You may also like these Cauliflower Recipes.

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Published on November 26, 2023

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  1. K says

    This looks delicious! When using the Trader Joe’s mirepoix blend, do you just do 3 cups of the blend, or separate the blend by ingredient?

  2. Natasha says

    YES! I was hoping to see more savory meals, thanks so much for this!
    I love barley in soups so I’m definitely going to try this out.

  3. Jocelyn says

    Just made this for dinner tonight, since it was a perfect meal for a freezing night (in Texas!) Absolutely amazing soup! What a brilliant idea to saute the onion and garlic in tahini! I got a barley/lentil/split pea mix at the grocery store and pre-cooked that. Then, I added all the veggies and cooked barley mix into my Instant Pot and cooked for 3 minutes. Also added some bay leaves. Soup came out perfect and FULL of flavor! Thanks for a great recipe…I love when you do dinner ideas!

    • Jason Sanford says

      Thank you so much for reporting that it works in the instant pot! We’ll definitely make a note in the recipe so other readers with an instant pot can try it. I love mine and keep telling Katie that she needs to get one!

      Jason (media relations)

  4. Lon Zo says

    Happy New Year to one of America’s healthy eating national treasures.

    When I make this type of soup, I do it in The Instant Pot, and instead of barley, I use farro bc I like a bigger and chewier grain.

    Look forward to your coming year recipes and posts.

  5. Nigel Hutchinson says

    Just made this can’t wait to try it. Perfect for super cold weather here in Canada. Shout-outs from Toronto! P.S. the tahini doesn’t sautee well!

  6. Liz M. says

    This turned out delicious! We were ready to eat wholesome after the holidays and this soup, coupled with temps in the teens, was the perfect recipe to start with. I didn’t have broth on hand so I added an additional tablespoon of butter and that worked, but broth definitely would have added more flavor! This was so easy and filling, thanks for posting!

  7. Beth A Diamond says

    I want to sign up for your emails, but my system won’t let me. I hope you can you sign me up directly!

    • Jason Sanford says

      Hmm that is so weird! I just sent you a confirmation, so let me know if you don’t get it. And thank you!
      Jason (media relations)

  8. Laurie Hill says

    I made this soup last night and my husband and I both gave it 5 stars! It was easy and delicious!! I’ll definitely be making this again!

  9. Renée says

    Hi. How long do you suggest for this recipe using the crockpot ? P.s. I make your crockpot pecans all the timeand they were great holiday gifts for friends!

    • Jason Sanford says

      I think it would depend on the crockpot, but perhaps google “crockpot barley soup” or something like that to see how long similar recipes take, and go from there!

  10. Salima says

    This looks delicious, can’t wait to try! Does cooking time change if you go with white rice vs. brown or is one hour ok with either? I thought that white rice might get too mushy? Thanks!

  11. alex says

    made this but added cooked farro right before serving!! also, for those who are too lazy to mince garlic but want the taste of fresh garlic, I used dorot minced garlic cubes (bought from trader joe’s in the freezer section)! also, I made this without any oil/fat and it was still delicious, just cooked the onion and garlic in a bit of vegetable broth before adding the rest of the ingredients. soooo flavorful and good!

  12. Michele says

    This is the best soup ever!!! We all love it. I actually converted the recipe for the instant pot. Instead of cooking the barley ahead like indicated in your instructions, I added into the pot uncooked. It came out beautifully. I did sauté the onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms first. Seasoned the veggies. Then added the broth and the pearl barley uncooked. I used the soup button in the instant pot which defaulted to 30 minutes, let it release the stem naturally (about 10 minutes) the did a manual release. Quick and easy! I love all of your recipes. Thank you for posting.

  13. Mary says

    I used the same instant pot method as Michele above and it was delicious! I used mushroom broth instead of veggie broth. Whole family loved it. Thanks!

  14. Tiffany says

    This recipe should not fall under gluten free recipes as barley has gluten in it. As someone with celiacs disease this would make me extremely sick. I understand you can substitute rice for the barley, but it’s misleading to put this under the gluten free category.

    • Jason Sanford says

      Katie offers options for her recipes to make them suitable for as many people as possible. The gluten free tag means that there is a gluten free option, just like the sugar free tag means there’s a sugar free option. People following the gluten free option can easily make this recipe if using the gf option and it still works just as well. Hope that helps!

  15. Kayla says

    For making this in a slow cooker, how long do you think it should cook in there for? And should I bring it to a boil in the slow cooker before letting it simmer? Or just let it simmer for a long time?
    Thank you

  16. Christie says

    Haven’t tried yet but will. I was looking for a brothy soup like the one made at Stone Oven, a great cafe in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. I love your story about eating this in college and all the details. It really paints a picture and makes me want this comforting soup even more. It’s a cold April day in Cleveland, and this soup would really hit the spot! Thanks.

  17. Patricia Eilers says

    Wow, this was yummy. It turned out richer than I expected, more like a stroganoff consistency, probably because of the Tahini. This is a keeper–thanks for the easy healthy soup recipe!

  18. nancy says

    I thought the soup needed a little more “kick” so I tried a teaspoon of salsa in the soup. Viola! Perfect…I like spicy food.

  19. Shaina says

    5 stars
    Just wanted to say I make this once a week, it’s so delicious (especially the next day like Katie says), easy and filling! Sometimes I’ll add some chickpeas or another bean after the soup is made but overall, awesome recipe!!

  20. SBS says

    5 stars
    I have never been a big mushroom fan, but since switching to a healthier style of eating, I wanted to add more ‘shrooms. Oh. My. Goodness! This was delicious. This will be a staple meal on our dinner plan!

  21. Barb says

    5 stars
    I made this soup last night and it was very good! However I’m not a big fan of vegetable broth and not a vegetarian would chicken broth be ok to use?

  22. Tracie says

    5 stars
    SO delicious!!! Reminds me of a bowl full of thanksgiving stuffing 😋 full of flavor!!! Kids loved it and even suggested adding more veggies next time. I personally think it’s a little too salty for me though so next time I will use less. Otherwise, absolutely delicious, Katie!

5 from 20 votes (20 ratings without comment)

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