Mushroom-Barley Soup

In winter, when you crave something warm and don’t want another green smoothie, vegetable soups can be your best friend, and this mushroom-barley soup is an all-time classic.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just striving to eat a more healthy diet, nothing is more comforting, and yet the effort to make homemade soup is pretty minimal. They are by far  the most versatile of cooked dishes and can be made using many different ingredients or very few ingredients by an experienced cook or a novice.

You can actually eat just a soup for a meal and be done with it!

Just like with smoothies, it’s really hard to spoil the soup, and even if you don’t “love” what you made, it’s usually pretty easy to fix it.

Plus, making your own soup is a great way to save money on food. I’m always shocked to see what grocery stores and specialty shops charge for “homemade” soup. You can easily make 3-4 times the amount for the same price… and then freeze it away for a busy day.

You can use an endless selection of fresh raw ingredients and/or some cooked ingredients, let the mixture bubble away for a short time, and presto, you have created a delicious homemade soup with almost no effort.  These are a great healthy standby and are easy to prepare, inexpensive, nourishing and satisfying.

Mushroom-Barley Soup Recipe

Using a variety of mushrooms adds interest to this comfort soup without tampering too much with a classic.

I like to use a variety of white button, cremini, oyster, shiitake and/or portabella, which are readily available where I live.

To add more sophistication and richness to the flavor, I like to add a few pieces of dried wild mushrooms, especially boletus.

Dried boletus should first be soaked for 30 minutes (use the liquid for the soup, as it is highly flavorful).  I only add a little, because they are costly, but  even a small amount of dried boletus added to ordinary cultivated mushrooms is sure give the dish a much deeper flavor.

Mushroom-Barley Soup

Mushroom-Barley Soup


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 large celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 5 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 14 ounces mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • a few pieces of dried boletus, pre soaked for 30 minutes and chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup barley (I often buy medium or fine grained pearl barley, which cooks faster than whole barley pearls)
  • 2 small white potatoes, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh dill or parsley, chopped
  • Optional Ingredients
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (rice, hemp, soy or other; or use cashew cream) (optional, if not using, simply add more water)
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. Bring the barley, pre-soaked dried mushrooms (if using) and 2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes, or until tender. (I like to boil barley separately, to avoid over-cooking the vegetables. If you can buy medium or fine grain pearl barley, which cooks faster than whole barley pears, then you can simply add it to the soup to boil everything together).
  2. Preheat a large, non-stick pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, cover and sauté in 2-3 tablespoons water or broth, over medium heat until translucent, stirring frequently and adding more liquid if needed. Place celery, carrot and mushrooms in soup pot and keep sautéing for a few more minutes, until all vegetables begin to "sweat.".
  3. Pour in 4 cups water or broth, add bay leaves and thyme. Bring to boil, then lower the heat and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Stir in barley, dill or parsley, some fresh pepper. Taste and season with pepper and salt (if using) as needed. Pour into individual bowls and serve.

Mushroom-barley soup: dried-boletus

Mushroom-barley soup: adding just a few pieces (3-4) of dried boletus will add a deeper dimension to this simple soup

Mushroom-barley soup: dried-boletus

Mushroom-barley soup ingredients: the white ingredient on top is cashew cream, my secret ingredient to deliciously creamy soups without dairy (psst… don’t tell anyone!)

Mushroom-barley soup ingredients: the white ingredient on top is cashew cream, my secret ingredient to deliciously creamy soups without dairy. Cashew cream is very easy to make at home. Simply blend a few cashews with water. I also like to add a few peppercorns and blend everything on high in my Vitamix.

Whole grain barley is a healthy high-fiber, high-protein whole grain boasting numerous health benefits. When cooked, barley has a chewy texture and nutty flavor, similar to brown rice.

How to cook barley:
Barley takes about 40 minutes to cook, so if you don’t want to over-cook your vegetables, you can cook it separately and then add to the soup at the end of cooking.

Cover 1 cup of pearl barley with 2 cups of water or vegetable broth and simmer for 30-40 minutes before fluffing with a fork. . Pre-soak barley in plenty of water to cut down on the overall cooking time. Barley can be pre-soaked for an hour or overnight. Pre-soaking will reduce the cooking time to about fifteen minutes. Also, if you can find it, you can buy medium or fine barley, which cooks faster than whole barley pearls.

Fresh Dill

Mushroom-barley soup:My last secret ingredient is fresh dill. I add it to almost all my vegetable soups, whenever I have it.


Mushroom barley soup: Bon appetite!

You will find this and many more soup recipes in my Soup Ebook: Easy Comfort Soup Recipes For Body and Soul.

For less than the price of a few cans of processed organic soup, you can have my collection of the best comfort soup recipes you’ll ever taste. And they’re easy to make, too!