The Best Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe

5 from 6 votes
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This mushroom barley soup requires just a handful of ingredients, yet is packed with vegetables and so much flavor. Inspired by Persian soup-e jo, a bowl of this soup is an ideal meatless meal you can prepare and enjoy at home.

a bowl of mushroom barley soup on the table with lemon and parsley.


 

When it comes to soups and stews, we like them tasty and easy. This mushroom barley soup recipe checks all the boxes. With a nod to the Persian soup-e jo (barley soup), this recipe offers a lot of flavor thanks to the inclusion of turmeric, tomato paste and lemon. Just like our Mediterranean lentil soup, instant pot vegetable soup and Turkish red lentil soup, this dish is hearty, easy to make and very comforting.

Ingredients and substitutions

For this recipe you need olive oil, onion, garlic, celery, carrots, tomato paste, spices, mushrooms, barley, lemon and parsley.
  • Onion, garlic, carrot and celery: The combination of these 4 vegetables will be the base of the soup when sauteed in olive oil.
  • Spices: You need turmeric, kosher salt and pepper. The turmeric adds a lot of flavor to the soup, not to mention bright color.
  • Tomato paste: For some deep flavor and color, I like to use a couple tablespoons of tomato paste.
  • Mushrooms: I used white button mushrooms, but feel free to get creative and include other varieties such as baby bella or criminis.
  • Pearl barley: You can find these at any supermarket. If using quick barley, the cooking time will be about 20 minutes.
  • Parsley: To finish the soup with some fresh flavors. Use as much or as little depending on your preference. You can also use dill or cilantro.
  • Lemon juice: I always squeeze 1 or 2 lemons in the soup right before serving. It adds such nice and bright flavor.

All about barley

Barley is a cereal grain that’s been around for over 10,000 years. It’s packed with nutrients such as fiber, Vitamin B6 and minerals.

There are a few versions of barley out there including hulled, pearled and quick. Hulled barley is separated from the outer husk and has a darker color. Pearl barley has the outer husk and the bran layer removed, and it also has been polished, hence the lighter color. And finally, quick barley has been steamed, therefore it takes only 10 to 15 minutes to cook it.

How to make mushroom barley soup

saute the vegetables add teh spices add the mushrooms and barley add the water and cook until the barley is tender.
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottom pot such as a Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté the onion until pink and translucent. Then add the garlic, celery and carrots. Sauté for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. To the vegetables add the turmeric, salt, pepper and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Add the mushrooms and give it a stir.
  3. Add the pearl barley and water (or broth) and bring it to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 45 minutes to one hour until the barley is fully cooked. Check after 30 minutes and if the soup is too thick, add a bit more water or broth.
  4. Stir in the chopped parsley and freshly squeezed lemon juice right before serving.

Variations

Here are a couple of suggestions to jazz up this soup:

  • Add beef or chicken: Add leftover chicken or beef to the soup in the last 20 minutes of cooking.
  • Vegetables: You can add other vegetable such as spinach, red peppers, squash or corn.
  • Herbs: Instead of parsley, use cilantro, dill or a combination of the three.

Tips and tricks

  1. Mise en place: Chop all the vegetables and have them ready before you start cooking. This would save time during cooking and will make the process smoother.
  2. Keep an eye out: Barley will thicken the soup, so it’s best to check the soup 30 minutes into the simmering to make sure it’s not too thick. If it is, simply add more water or broth.
  3. Make a big batch: This soup keeps well in the fridge. Make a large pot and enjoy it through the week for a quick lunch or dinner.
  4. Use a variety of mushrooms: If your pantry is well-stocked or you’re up for a trip to the grocery store, try using a few types of mushrooms such as baby bella, crimini or even shiitake.
mushroom barley soup in a bowl

Serving suggestions

I love serving this hearty barley soup with some bread such as lavash or even no-yeast naan. You can have a salad on the side as well, some of our favorites are Mediterranean salad, tomato feta salad or roasted butternut squash salad.

Storage and freezing

This vegan barley soup keeps very well in the fridge. Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. To reheat, place the soup in a sauce pan over medium heat and add 1/4 cup broth or water. It takes about 15 minutes for the soup to reheat.

To freeze mushroom barley soup, let it cool completely and then transfer it to a freezer-safe container. You can freeze this soup for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight and then reheat in a saucepan over medium heat with a little bit of water.

three bowls of soup on a wooden surface.

Frequently asked questions

Can I make this soup ahead of time?

Yes, you can make this dish up to 2 days in advance, refrigerate and when you’re ready to serve, simply add some more water or liquid and reheat over medium heat.

Can I use cooked barley for this recipe?

Yes, you can cook the barley ahead of time with water and a pinch of salt then add it to the soup with the mushrooms. The cooking time for the soup will be shorter (about 20 minutes) and the soup will not be as thick.

My soup is too thick, how can I fix it?

Barley would thicken your soup, which can be very nice. However, if the soup is too thick for your preference, thin it out with vegetable broth, chicken broth or water.

Can I use canned mushrooms?

I don’t recommend using canned or jarred mushrooms as they don’t taste the same and don’t have the same texture.

Is mushroom barley soup gluten-free?

Barley is not gluten-free therefore this soup isn’t either. If looking for a gluten-free substitute, use farro, which basically has the same chewy texture and nutty flavor.

Did you make this recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Please comment and leave a 5-star🌟 rating below. You can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or subscribe to our newsletter to get a free e-Cookbook!

Mushroom barley soup.
5 from 6 votes

The Best Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe

This mushroom barley soup requires just a handful of ingredients, yet is packed with vegetables and so much flavor. Inspired by Persian soup-e jo, a bowl of this soup is an ideal meatless meal you can prepare and enjoy at home.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
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Ingredients 

  • 2 tbsp olive oil , extra virgin
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 16 oz white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • lemon , juice of

Instructions 

  • Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom pot such as a Dutch oven over medium heat. Saute the onion until translucent. Add in the garlic, celery and carrots and cook for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Add in the turmeric, salt, black pepper and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Add the mushrooms and give it a good stir.
  • Add the pearl barley and 7 cups of water (or broth) and bring it to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 45 minutes to one hour until the barley is fully cooked. Check after 30 minutes and if the soup is too thick, add a bit more water or broth.
  • Stir in the chopped parsley and freshly squeezed lemon juice right before serving.

Video

Notes

  • You can use a variety of mushrooms including baby bella, crimini or even shiitake. However, canned mushrooms won’t work for this recipe. 
  • If using quick barley, the cooking time will be shorter. It only takes 10 to 15 minutes for quick barley to cook. 
  • Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. To reheat, place the soup in a sauce pan over medium heat and add 1/4 cup broth or water. It takes about 15 minutes for the soup to reheat.
  • Freezing instructions: Let the soup cool completely and then transfer it to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight and then reheat in a saucepan over medium heat with a little bit of water.

Nutrition

Calories: 203kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 438mg | Potassium: 536mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 4298IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Shadi HasanzadeNemati

I'm here to show you how to make delicious Persian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food at home. My easy to follow recipes will bring exciting new flavors to your table!

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    made this soup for dinner and it was an instant hit! all flavours in point, didn’t need to change or add anything – it’s just perfect as it is. easy to make yet filling, delicious and nutritious! had for 3days and I honestly can’t wait to make it again. it’s definitely a regular now. Thanks for the recipe 🤗

  2. 5 stars
    I made this for the first time today! I used beef broth and chopped up some cooked pork tender leftovers I thawed from my freezer. Chopped the slices tiny. Thank you so much! This is a go to meal for the 2 of us! So many ways to make it. with chicken or even turkey and
    yes just veggies, although my husband prefers meat in his food. I did all the pre chopping even the seasoning ready to add…I’ve never tried tumeric before…Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    i just made with the following variation: doubled tomato paste, added 2 oz frozen okara I started making my own soymilk and freeze the okara to add to everything) and used gobs more chopped parsley. The recipe is such a winner! Thank you for sharing.

  4. 5 stars
    everyone enjoyed it but I found it was missing something. my sis in law disagreed but I just added a pinch of cumin and chicken to the leftovers and it was delicious.