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  • Karen Haralson

Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe: Simple and Comforting

Simple and delicious mushroom barley soup is a great winter and fall staple guaranteed to warm you up! Mushrooms add an earthy umami taste and give this soup a deep flavor. The freshly chopped vegetables and lots of parsley bring a bright freshness. And the subtle star of this soup - barley - packs protein and adds amazing texture. Barley is easy to cook for use in other soups, salads, or side dishes adding a great deal of fiber and vitamins to your diet!

Overall this is a hearty and filling vegetarian meal that comes together quickly with simple ingredients.

Which type of barley is best for soup?

You’ll commonly see two types of barley: Hulled and Pearled. I recommend trying both in your soups and experimenting with their slightly different flavors and textures.

Hulled Barley

Hulled barley is a whole grain and only has the outermost shell of the grain removed during processing. It's more nutrient-dense and has a longer cooking time, which can be shortened by soaking for a few hours before adding to your soup. Hulled barley has a nuttier flavor and a denser chew.

Pearled Barley

Pearled barley is not considered a whole grain because it has its outer husk and bran removed (via polishing) during processing. Due to the polishing, pearled barley cooks more quickly.

Pearled barley is also starchier and less chewy than hulled barley. It breaks down more than hulled barley when cooked and will significantly thicken your soup.

Should you cook barley before adding it to soup?

No, cooking barley before adding it to your soup isn’t necessary. Simply stir raw barley directly into your soup and allow it to cook in the broth.

Barley absorbs roughly three times its measured amount of liquid, so 1 cup of raw barley would require 3 cups of broth to cook properly. Recipes that contain barley will account for this and increase the amount of broth you need to add to your soup.

If you have some already cooked barley on hand you want to use in your soup, you may need to reduce the amount of broth in the recipe. To add cooked barley, simply stir it in during the last 15 minutes of cooking to warm it up and incorporate it into your soup.

Can you freeze barley soup?

Leftovers of this mushroom barley soup will keep in the fridge for 5-6 days in an airtight container. You can also freeze the soup by allowing it to cool completely before transferring it to freezer-safe containers (don’t forget to leave headspace at the top) and placing it in the freezer.

When you’re ready to eat it, thaw the soup overnight in the fridge and microwave or reheat on the stovetop over medium heat. You may need to add a little more broth or water to help the consistency.

Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe


  • Olive oil

  • 16 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced

  • 8 oz white or shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped

  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 2 celery stalks, chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 1 can crushed tomatoes

  • 1 tsp coriander

  • 1 tsp smoked paprika

  • 1 tsp cumin

  • 6 cups low-sodium broth

  • 1 cup barley

  • 1 bunch chopped parsley


  1. In a large Dutch Oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add crimini mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook until mushrooms soften and brown, about 8-10 minutes. It’s okay if some mushroom bits stick to the bottom of the pan, this will add to the flavor of the soup. Remove from the pot and set aside for now.

  2. In the same pot, add a tablespoon more of olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and chopped white mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 4-6 minutes until soft.

  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, coriander, smoked paprika, and cumin. Cook for 3 minutes stirring frequently.

  4. Add the broth and barley. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then turn down the heat, cover and let simmer over low heat until the barley is tender and cooked through (if using hulled barley, this will take about 45 minutes. If using pearled barley this will take about 30 minutes)

  5. Add the cooked crimini mushrooms back to the pot and stir to combine. Cook for about 5 minutes to warm the mushrooms and incorporate the flavors. Season as needed.

  6. Turn off the heat and stir in the fresh parsley. Spoon into bowls and dig in!

Let us know if you give this recipe a try and what you think in the comments!


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