Everything you want from a soup is here in this nourishing and tasty Mushroom Barley Soup. It’s easy to make, includes a few simple ingredients, and is hearty enough to be considered a full meal.

White bowl of mushroom barley soup.


I try and make soup at least once a week in the cooler months and this Mushroom Barley Soup is always in the monthly rotation.

The barley makes this super filling and the earthy flavor and meaty texture of the mushrooms make this soup an excellent vegetarian alternative to my beef barley soup.

This mushroom and barley soup is great with a chunk of crusty bread, garlic bread, or homemade no-knead focaccia and a salad.

Recipe Ingredients

All ingredients for this recipe are shown in the pic below and special notes are made in this bulleted list to assist you.

Ingredients shown, onion, garlic, herbs, barley, dry mushrooms, wine, miso paste, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and vegetable stock.
  • Mushrooms. I am using a combo of cremini mushrooms, also known as Baby Bellas, shitake mushrooms, and dried gourmet mushrooms. You can also use white button mushrooms if you can’t find creminis, shitakes, or gourmet mushrooms.
  • Miso paste. You can use red or white miso paste. This adds flavor and body.
  • Vegetable stock. Use low sodium vegetable stock, or make a stock from low sodium vegetable base.
  • Pearl barley. A main ingredient in mushroom barley soup, it’s what makes this soup hearty and filling.
  • White wine. I used a dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc, for flavor but you can easily omit if you can’t have alcohol.
  • Aromatics. Carrots, celery, onion, and garlic.
  • Herbs. For flavor, I use fresh thyme, parsley, and dried bay leaves.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

How to make it

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. Clean and slice 1 pound of cremini mushrooms and 1/2 pound of shitake mushrooms. Dice 1 large onion, 2 celery ribs, and 4 medium carrots. Mince 6 cloves of garlic and 1/4 cup of flat-leaf parsley and set aside. Add 1 ounce of gourmet dried mushrooms to a medium bowl and add enough hot water to cover them and allow them to reconstitute for at least 10 minutes then drain. (Photo #1)
  2. Heat a large heavy pot to just higher than medium heat and add 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Once shimmering, add all of the mushrooms. (Photo #2)
Mushroom barley soup recipe process collage group one showing reconstituting dry mushrooms and sauteing mushrooms and vegetables in Dutch oven.
  1. Cook the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until they release their water and start to brown, about 20 minutes. (Photo #3)
  2. Once the mushrooms are browned, add the onion, celery, and carrot to the pot and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. (Photo #4)
  3. Once the veggies are soft, add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. (Photo #5)
  4. Add 1 cup of dry white wine and turn the heat to high and reduce by half while scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to dislodge the brown bits, about 2 minutes. (Photo #6)
Recipe collage group two showing sauteing of vegetbales, deglazing with wine, boiling soup, and checking barley for tenderness.
  1. Add 10 cups of low-sodium vegetable stock along with 5 sprigs of fresh thyme and 2 large bay leaves and bring to a boil. (Photo #7)
  2. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer and add 1 cup of pearl barley. Cook at a simmer for 50-60 minutes or until the barley is tender stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Taste test along the way and once the barley is done, remove from the heat and discard the bay leaves and thyme stems. (Photo #8)
  3. Note: If omitting the miso paste, skip to step 12. In a small bowl or measuring cup place 2 teaspoons of miso paste (red or white), add 1 cup of the soup broth, and whisk together to encourage the miso paste to dissolve. (Photo #9)
  4. Strain the miso/broth mixture into the soup. (Photo #10)
Recipe collage three showing adding of miso paste and seasoning the soup.
  1. If any of the miso paste remains in the strainer, use a wooden spoon to gently push the remnants through the strainer. Note: It is hard to dissolve the paste completely, so this step is often needed. (Photo #11)
  2. Taste test and adjust salt and pepper to taste. If the soup is too thick, add a touch of water or vegetable broth/stock to thin it out. Add the parsley right before serving and enjoy! (Photo #12)

Top tips

  • Cleaning mushrooms. Be sure to remove the fibrous end of the mushroom stem before slicing. You can clean your mushrooms with a damp paper towel to remove any debris from the outside.
  • Beef it up. This mushroom barley soup recipe is vegetarian and vegan. If you want to amp up the flavor, you can replace the vegetable broth with low-sodium beef stock or chicken stock.
  • Make ahead! One of the best things about soups, stews, and chilis, is they’re better once they’ve had time to sit in the fridge overnight. I suggest making mushroom barley soup in advance for an even better tasting soup!
Large pot of mushroom barley soup with wooden ladle.

More soup recipes you’ll love

If you’re looking for soups that are hearty, nourishing, and delicious, here are a few of my favorites!

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Mushroom Barley Soup

5 from 8 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 35 minutes
Total: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 6
Hearty and delicious mushroom barley soup is loaded with cremini and shitake mushrooms, vegetables, barley, and fresh thyme.

Ingredients 

  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce gourmet dried mushrooms reconstituted in hot water then drained
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 pound shitake mushrooms sliced
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 2 ribs celery diced
  • 4 medium carrots diced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 10 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley minced
  • 2 teaspoons white or red miso paste plus more to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Heat a large heavy pot to a touch higher than medium heat and add the olive oil. Once shimmering add all of the mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushroom release their water and start to brown (about 20 minutes).
  • Add the onion, celery, and carrot to the pot and cook until softened (about 10 minutes) then add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the white wine and turn the heat to high. Reduce by half (about 2 minutes) and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to remove all of the flavor bits.
  • Add the vegetable stock, thyme, and bay leaves to the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn the heat down to a simmer and add the barley.
  • Cook at a simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until tender (about 50-60 minutes). Taste test along the way and once the barley is tender, remove the pot from the heat. Discard the bay leaves and thyme stems.
  • Place the miso paste into a small bowl and add 1 cup of the soup broth. Whisk until the miso paste completely dissolves then add it back to the soup.
  • Taste test and adjust salt and pepper if required. If the soup is too thick, add water or extra vegetable broth to thin it to personal preference. Add the parsley before serving. Enjoy!

Notes

  • This recipe makes 6 large bowls.
  • This recipe is vegan.  Feel free to sub chicken stock or beef stock if you like.
  • Add more liquid such as vegetable broth or water after cooking to thin out the soup if needed.
  • Leftovers can be saved in the fridge for up to 3 days and can be reheated on the stovetop or microwave.

Nutrition

Calories: 306kcal | Carbohydrates: 36.6g | Protein: 15.5g | Fat: 13.2g | Saturated Fat: 1.7g | Sodium: 359mg | Potassium: 1534mg | Fiber: 9.1g | Sugar: 12.3g | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 12mg

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

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17 Comments

  1. Is the “pearl barley” listed in the ingredients correct?? Pearled barley is like quick oats- sliced, flattened, and cooks fast. An hour of simmering is overkill for pearled barley and based on the pictures it looks like whole, hulled barley. Please clarify. Thanks!

    1. Hi Ashley, yes, it’s pearl barley we’re using and it does take roughly 45-60 minutes for it to become tender when simmering.

  2. 5 stars
    I made this recipe with plans to share it. It was so delicious, it never made it out the door. I will definitely make this again. It is so flavourful and hearty.
    I give this recipe an easy 5 stars. Easy to prepare and tasty.

  3. I made this with 1 lb of baby Bella’s and 1/2 lb of white mushrooms. My thyme was lemon thyme since that’s what I had fresh in the garden. It was delicious! Hearty, full of umami and so very filling! I will definitely make it again. Thank you!

  4. 5 stars
    Update….couldn’t wait, WOW! So incredibly delicious! Thank you James and Tara for yet another amazing recipe, as well as the time and effort you put into sharing and teaching us loyal followers!

  5. 5 stars
    James and Tara, I took your advice and made this soup tonight for tomorrow so it can soak up all the flavors,it’s simmering now for the last hour and the the house smells too good to wait for tomorrow! All of your recipes have been a huge success! Thankyou for giving us so many favorite’s!
    Kristan

  6. Haven’t tried it yet, but how important are the dried shrooms. Super expensive- especially if doubling the recipie.

    1. Hi Pam, you can omit the dried mushrooms if you’d like. See the Recipe Ingredients section of the post where Jim suggests using white button mushrooms if you can’t find the others. Hope you enjoy!

  7. 5 stars
    I’ve been watching you guys for over 2 years and I love all the videos!! So professional, caring, and very knowledgeable!! Thank you for sharing all your videos 🩷🩷 o