This recipe was originally published in February 2019. It has been updated for content and photos.
Whether it’s a chilly day, or even a sunny day, there is something very comforting about a big bowl of hearty bean and barley soup. It’s vegetarian and vegan friendly, and also oil free and heart healthy. Now if you have a gluten intolerance and can’t do the barley in soup, feel free to sub for brown rice.
For even more soup ideas and inspiration, make sure to check out this delicious collection of healthy vegan soup recipes.
Vegetable barley soup recipes often have tomatoes but to keep this one nightshade free, I decided to make this one without tomatoes. I’m happy to report that the result is just incredible!
Pot vs pearl barley?
I typically use pot barley for any recipe calling for barley. Pot barley contains more nutrients than pearl because it’s less refined.
Only the outermost inedible membrane is removed, resulting in a nuttier flavour that is just delicious.
Pearl barley is more refined, with the membrane removed, and then the barley is polished, removing much of its nutrients. Pearl barley does cook faster, if you’re in a hurry.
However, I prefer pot barley, especially in soup, since it will remain a little chewy, giving your bowl more body and texture.
What’s in my recipe for vegetable barley soup?
For my soup, I’m using:
- White navy beans, or white kidney beans work well too. Soak them overnight, or use my quick soak method in the notes below.
- Red onion
- Frozen peas
- Frozen corn
- Pot barley
- Low sodium vegetable broth
- Garlic powder, Oregano, Salt + Pepper
- Baby spinach (or kale works too)
You may use kale or spinach in this soup. I like baby spinach for a little sweetness, but any leafy green works well here.
Just make sure to add it towards the end of cooking, no matter which one you choose.
How to make vegetable barley soup
Gather your ingredients. Then peel and quarter your onion and peel your carrots.
Use a food processor to finely chop them, without pureeing. If you don’t have a food processor, you may chop by hand, but a food processor will save you time. Transfer your processed veggies to a large pot.
Add all the remaining ingredients to the same pot, except the spinach or leafy green of choice. Bring your pot to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer your soup until the barley and beans are tender.
Now you may turn off the heat and stir in your spinach or kale, and mix until wilted.
This will take less than a minute, as the heat alone will wilt and cook your spinach.
Serve with crusty bread, crackers, or croutons and sprinkle some vegan Parmesan cheese on top, and enjoy!
How long does it keep?
This recipe makes a large batch of soup, which is especially handy during the cold, winter months. The great news is this soup tastes just as great (if not better) when reheated the next day. It’s perfect for leftovers or packing lunches.
The leftovers will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days, or you may freeze for up to 2 months. Just thaw in the refrigerator the night before and reheat on stove top.
If you don’t want as many leftovers, you may halve the soup recipe instead.
More delicious vegan soup recipes
- Vegan Chicken Soup w/ Jackfruit & Potato
- Thai Peanut Chickpea Soup Instant Pot
- Vegan Tomato Bisque
- Easy Mushroom Barley Soup [Instant Pot Option]
- Instant Pot Vegetable Soup with Quinoa
- Healthy Broccoli Potato Soup
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- 1 cup navy beans or white kidney beans soaked overnight or quick soak method, see notes below
- 1 red onion
- 4 large carrots
- 2 cups frozen peas
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 cup barley
- 10 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1.5 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 2 handfuls baby spinach
- salt and pepper to taste
- Peel and quarter your onion and peel your carrots. Add them to a food processor and process until finely chopped. If you do not have a food processor, you may finely chop by hand. Then transfer them to a large pot.
- Add all remaining ingredients except the spinach to the same pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the barley and beans are tender.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach until wilted. This will take less than one minute. Serve and enjoy.