Barley Soup

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

This nutritious and satiating one-pot Barley Soup is loaded up with tons of veggies, a rich seasoned broth, and tender barley. It’s incredibly delicious and you’ll feel great eating it! Top your bowl with some fresh herbs and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese– and then grab some crusty bread for dunking!

This soup is naturally vegetarian (trust us when we say you won’t be missing the meat here!). If you are looking for a meat-filled barley soup, though, give our Beef and Barley Soup a try!

Overhead image of Barley Soup

Graphic for "Favorite Soup Recipes" series

Try out this Vegetable-Barley Soup recipe, which is part of our collection of favorite soup recipes. Click here to see all the recipes in the collection.

Our Best Vegetable-Barley Soup 

After a lot of indulging over the holidays, it feels good to return to a few more veggies. This soup is the perfect way to pack ’em all in! Carrots, onion, celery, butternut squash, and kale come alive in one pot!

But before you think this is a soup to endure in the name of healthy eating, believe me: this soup is the furthest thing from that. It’s lively, flavorful, and downright comforting! It’s a healthful recipe that doesn’t even seem all that nutritious. It really is that tasty.

So whether you’re looking to add more plants to your diet, avoid dairy or meat, or you just want a really delicious hearty bowl of soup–this recipe is for you!


What is barley? It’s a delicious whole grain with a nice chewy texture and nutty flavor. A nice changeup from your typical rice or pasta in a soup!

Ingredient shot-- image of all the ingredients used in this dish

How Long Does It Take To Cook Barley In Soup?

Barley takes about 30-35 minutes to cook when added to the simmering liquid.

For this recipe use pearled barley. “Pearled” means the barley’s fibrous outer hull and some (or all) of the bran layer has been removed. This type of barley requires less cooking time and absorbs the right amount of liquid in this recipe. 

Avoid quick-cooking barley. It’s thinner and cooks faster. That means it will be mushy by the time the vegetables are cooked through. (If that’s all you have, add it later in the simmering time, but note it won’t have a chance to absorb as much flavor in the surrounding broth.)

Process shots-- images of all the veggies, seasonings, and barley being sautéed in a pot

Below are a few ingredients worth mentioning in this soup

What Is Barley Soup Made Of?

  • Barley (of course!). You’ll find this grain in the grocery store by dried beans and other dried grains. Pearled barley (as opposed to the quick-cook type) may be hard to source locally, so you may need to buy it online. (We love this brand and this brand of pearled barley.)
  • Use a high-quality, flavorful stock that adds loads of flavor and allows us to cut down on spices or other additions. We highly recommend Swanson® chicken or vegetable stock — it’s our favorite! The stock makes a huge difference in the end flavor of this Barley Soup recipe.


Completely optional flavor enhancer: Add a Parmesan rind. The rind on Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is a protective layer that develops on the outside of the cheese wheel as it ages. It’s technically edible but becomes tough to chew and very hard. That said, these rinds are packed full of flavor and do wonders for enriching the flavor of sauces, soups, and stews. If you have one lingering in your fridge, throw it in — you are going to love what it adds! Once the soup is done, remove the rind before serving.

Process shots of Barley Soup-- images of the bay leaves, broth, and kale being added to the pot


Switch It Up!

Create your own Barley Soup using one of the suggestions below :

  • Swap out veggies: Try some other veggies like sweet potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes or more of one of the veggies in the recipe. Another idea: switch out spinach for kale.
  • Switch out the grain. Swap farro for barley–the cook time is very similar. (Farro may be done about 5 minutes sooner.)
  • Add in a can of drained and rinsed white cannellini beans or chickpeas for more plant-based protein.
  • Make Chicken Barley Soup: Replace the vegetable stock with chicken stock and stir through some shredded, seasoned rotisserie chicken at the end.
  • Try Creamy Barley Soup: Give this Creamy Mushroom Soup Recipe a try, but replace the farro with barley. 

Overhead image of the dish in the pot ready to be enjoyed

Barley Soup FAQs

1Can I put uncooked barley in soup?

Yes! Add the uncooked grains right into this soup pot and be rewarded with the best pearl barley soup around!

No need to pre-cook or boil the barley before adding it to the soup pot. The barley will cook through in the simmering soup liquid.

2What happens if you don't rinse barley?

Just like lentils or dried beans, we rinse barley to remove any dust, dirt, or debris. So it’s import to wash it in cool water before adding to the pot. No need to pre-boil it, but we do heat the kernels in the pot before adding broth which helps to enhance the flavor.

3Is Barley Soup good for you?

Barley is a versatile whole grain that is rich in fiber, protein, and minerals. Foods that are rich in fiber help to satiate and keep you fuller for longer.

4How to cook barley in soup

We like to sauté the grain for a minute in the pot to enhance flavors. After that, add in broth and then simmer the barley until it is tender–easy!

5How do you know when barley is done cooking?

Barley has a really great chew to it, but the center should not be hard (like uncooked rice).

Up-close overhead image of the Barley Soup ready to be enjoyed


Serve a good crusty baguette or buttered artisan bread (like this No-Knead Bread), homemade Dinner RollsFrench Bread, or soup crackers/saltines alongside this Barley Soup!

More Veggie-Filled Soup Recipes:

FOLLOW ALONG! Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates, recipes and content.

Barley Soup

5 from 4 votes
This nutritious and satiating one-pot Barley Soup is loaded up with tons of veggies, a rich seasoned broth, and tender barley. It's incredibly delicious and you'll feel great eating it! Top your bowl with some fresh herbs and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese-- and then grab some crusty bread for dunking!
Print Recipe

Barley Soup

5 from 4 votes
This nutritious and satiating one-pot Barley Soup is loaded up with tons of veggies, a rich seasoned broth, and tender barley. It's incredibly delicious and you'll feel great eating it! Top your bowl with some fresh herbs and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese-- and then grab some crusty bread for dunking!
Course Dinner, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American, Healthy, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword barley soup
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Chelsea Lords
Calories 279kcal
Cost $10.12


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • 1-1/2 cups finely diced yellow onion ~2 medium onions
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped (1/2-inch) carrots (~3-4 carrots)
  • 1 cup chopped (1/4-inch) celery (~3 stems)
  • 2 cups chopped (1/2-inch) butternut squash
  • Fine sea salt & pepper
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic (~4 cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • Optional: 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 containers (32 oz. EACH) good-quality vegetable broth/stock (we love Swanson) (8 cups total)
  • 2 dry bay leaves
  • 2 cups finely shredded kale
  • Optional: 1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, fresh thyme or parsley, parmesan cheese, for topping


  • PREP: Thoroughly rinse barley in a mesh sieve or strainer under cool water. Shake off excess water and let stand in strainer to dry until ready to use. Prep veggies: very finely dice onion, peel and cut carrots to 1/2-inch pieces, cut celery to 1/2-inch pieces, and peel and cut squash into 1/2-inch cubes.
  • VEGGIES: Add 3 tbsp. olive oil to a large cast-iron pot over medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add in onion, carrot, celery, and squash. Season to taste (I add 1 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp pepper). Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and onion is beginning to turn golden, 5-7 minutes.
  • BARLEY: Add the garlic, curry powder, thyme, rinsed barley, and optional red pepper flakes. Sauté until fragrant, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add in vegetable broth/stock. Season once more (I add another 3/4 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp pepper). Add in bay leaves, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer. (The soup should be slightly bubbling, but not rapidly boiling/bubbling.) Simmer, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until barley is cooked through and veggies are tender. Add in kale for the last 3 minutes of simmering.
  • FINISH: Remove the pot from heat. Remove bay leaves and discard. Drizzle in the last tbsp of oil and add lemon juice, if using (we like 2 tbsp). Taste and season with more salt, pepper and/or red pepper flakes. (Depending on the vegetable broth and personal preferences you may need more of both!) Ladle into bowls and enjoy garnished with fresh herbs and freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.


Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 279kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 1264mg | Potassium: 551mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 13273IU | Vitamin C: 37mg | Calcium: 122mg | Iron: 2mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.


I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.

More Recipes You'll Love

Broccoli Potato Soup

1 hrs 15 mins

Broccoli Potato Soup

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Butternut Squash Soup

55 mins

Butternut Squash Soup

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Cauliflower Soup

55 mins

Cauliflower Soup

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories

Chicken and Rice Soup

45 mins

Chicken and Rice Soup

Click the Bookmark Icon to Add to Your Favories



How to Make Mealtime Hassle Free!

5 secrets to easy, fast and delicious dinners.

[gravityform id="2" title="false" description="false"]

Leave a Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


    1. Thanks so much for the comment Karen! I’m so sorry it isn’t working. I have someone looking into it currently and hopefully it is fixed soon!

  1. I wanted to print this recipe, but clicking on ‘print recipe’ button just opened the recipe in another window. Useless.

    1. I’m so sorry! I am paying someone to look into it right now, but they haven’t been able to find the issue quite yet! You could copy the recipe into a word doc and print it from there until it is fixed! Sorry again!

  2. 5 stars
    Hi Chelsea , I made this last night and it was Very Good . I substituted kale w/ fresh spinach . Kale is little hard on my stomach. I’m a first time viewer and have enjoyed looking at all wonderful recipes . Very healthy cooking . I like that 🙂 Thank you very much

Never Miss a Recipe

[gravityform id="3" title="false" description="false"]