This comforting vegan Vegetable Barley Soup recipe is simple to prepare and so hearty, satisfying, and cozy. Plus it's easy to customize with your own favorite vegetables! (Vegan, oil-free.)
Vegetable Barley Soup is such a classic cold-weather comfort meal because it's so warm and cozy.
The addition of chewy, tender pearled barley makes it feel so pleasantly filling and satisfying.
In the winter, I like to use whatever frozen vegetables I have on hand. (Usually peas, sweet corn, green beans, and broccoli.)
But feel free to customize this soup with your own favorites because it's very versatile!
Ingredients for Vegetable Barley Soup
For this recipe you will simmer in a large pot:
- Yellow onion: Or you can use sweet onion or white onion instead.
- Fresh garlic cloves: Or substitute dried garlic powder if desired.
- Canned diced tomatoes: Either regular, fire-roasted tomatoes, or petite diced tomatoes.
- Vegetable broth: Be sure to use low sodium if needed.
- Pearled barley: Or substitute with whole grain farro, brown rice, quinoa, etc.
- Green beans: I use frozen, but fresh works great too. There's no need to thaw your frozen veggies before adding them to the pot.
- Sweet corn: Frozen, canned, fire-roasted, etc.
- Peas: I use frozen.
- Dried basil + dried oregano: Be sure your pantry spices are fresh (not expired) for best flavor.
- White miso: This is optional but recommended for taste. It's a fermented soybean paste that provides delicious umami flavor to the broth.
Veggies: Add celery, cabbage, potato, bell pepper, mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, kale, etc.
Gluten-free option: Barley contains gluten, so for those with allergies or sensitivities, replace it with rice, quinoa, or your favorite gluten-free pasta.
Herbs + spices: Change up the flavor and stir in other herbs to the pot. Use Italian seasoning, thyme, or parsley. Or let the soup simmer with bay leaves (be sure to remove the leaf before serving).
Garnish: Top your bowl with fresh herbs like parsley or basil before serving. Or simply a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for acidity. If you like spice, a dash of hot sauce is great too.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. We find it keeps for about 4-5 days. Simply reheat in a microwave when ready to enjoy.
Freezing note: I have not tried this as a freezer meal, but I'm guessing it would do very well. Just be sure to let it cool completely before you freeze it. Then enjoy within 1-2 months.
For more inspiration, also browse all vegan soup recipes.
Vegetable Barley Soup
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 carrots
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (or fire-roasted)
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup pearled barley, uncooked
- 1 1/2 cups cut green beans (I use frozen)
- 1 cup sweet corn (I use frozen)
- 1 cup peas (I use frozen)
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 Tbsp. white miso (to stir in at the end)
- Fresh parsley for garnish
- Dice onion.
- In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, sauté onion for 7-8 minutes. (I use 3 Tbsp. water/vegetable broth for no-oil sauté method.)
- Meanwhile, dice carrot and mince garlic.
- When onions are translucent, add carrot, garlic, basil, and oregano. Stir and sauté 1 minute.
- Add broth, tomatoes with juice, and green beans. Increase heat and bring to a light boil.
- Rinse barley well.
- When broth is lightly boiling, add barley. Stir and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 35-40 minutes or until barley is tender. (Add more broth or water if desired as the barley will soak up some liquid.)
- When barley is cooked, stir in sweet corn and peas. Heat for 5 more minutes.
- Optional (but recommended!) miso addition: in a small bowl, whisk 1 Tbsp. white miso with 1/3 cup warm water to remove clumps. Add to pot right before serving and stir well to combine. (Or simply salt/pepper to taste as needed.)
- Great served with chopped parsley (or your favorite herbs).
Nutrition Per Serving (Estimate)
Sodium: This is omitted as I cannot provide an accurate number. I encourage you to calculate your own to provide a much more precise reading based on the exact ingredients, brands, and amounts you're using.
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Excellent! I topped with some balsamic vinegar and it was delicious! Thank you for this easy and simple meal.
Awesome idea with the balsamic, Jenny! Love that. Thanks for giving it a try and sharing your helpful feedback!
Such a lovely recipe! This soup is super delish, healthy and comforting. Perfect for the cold season.
Thanks, Jacqui! Glad you enjoyed.
Wondering how well this would do in an Instant Pot?
I haven't tried this in the Instant Pot, but I think it'd do well. (I'm guessing about 20 minutes on high pressure, then let it naturally release.) Would love to hear if you give it a go!
Made this tonight, and had to sub out the barley with Risoni (Trader Joe's lentil and chickpea flour "rice substitute" although it's not like rice at all to me ha!) I didn't want to go to the stores as I'm currently minimizing trips. This soup was DELICIOUS! So flavorful and healthy, and despite it being a 'soup' it had a fresh taste like spring. Will definitely make again!!
What a fun substitute! Trader Joe's is awesome. Always so grateful for your kindness and feedback on the recipes. Sending love your way. -Kaitlin
I am going to make this in the crock pot today! Will let you know how it turns out.
Kaitlin | The Garden Grazer
So great! Would love to hear how it turned out for you in the crock pot.
I have made this soup with barley (something my wife showed me 40 years ago) but plan to try it with quinoa next time I make veggie soup. Thanks for the idea. Question for you: can this be made in a crock pot without sautéing the carrots, onion and garlic?
Kaitlin | The Garden Grazer
Fantastic idea swapping out the barley with quinoa. I can't speak from experience, but I bet it would be a great crock pot meal as well. Would love to hear if you give it a try!
This is the second time I've made this and it is so good. The only thing I changed was to add all chicken broth and no water (because I have so much chicken broth in the freezer), and it is very savory. Thank you for this recipe!
Kaitlin | The Garden Grazer
Great to hear!