Vegetable Barley Soup

This vegan vegetable barley soup is hearty, nutritious and incredibly tasty. It’s easy to make and is a great fall or winter meal.

Close up of vegetable barley soup in a white bowl with a spoon

Vegetable barley soup is loaded with wholesome veggies and barley simmered in a flavorful broth. If you’re in the mood for some vegan comfort food, this soup has got you covered.

Barley adds a great texture and makes the soup more satisfying.

It’s also easy to customize to include your favorite veggies and spices. This version includes miso paste for some extra umami.

Serve up a bowl as a main meal or easy appetizer.

Key tips to follow

1. Use pearl barley for a nice soft chew

Pearl barley is the polished version of hulled barley. While hulled barley would work for this soup, pearl barley has a softer, less dense texture. Plus it still contains a lot of fiber.

2. Cook the barley ahead of time

If you are meal prepping for the week, you can plan ahead and cook your barley the day before you make this soup (I just shared a helpful post on How To Cook Barley if you need any tips).

The soup will come together a lot quicker and you’ll have more control over the consistency.

I prefer to rinse the barley after cooking to remove extra starch that could make the soup too thick. This is optional, however.

3. Prepare your vegetables before you cook

As the French say, prepare your mise-en-place. Make sure you wash and chop all your vegetables and herbs before you start cooking the soup.

You’ll see that this recipe comes together quickly. To prevent burning, have all your ingredients measured out and ready to go before turning the stove on.

Ingredients you’ll need

(Full recipe at the end)

  • Cooked barley
  • Olive oil
  • Onion
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes or tomato paste
  • Garlic
  • Vegetable Broth – I used Low Sodium Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base mixed with water. The original is much saltier, so adjust as needed.
  • Miso Paste – Optional but adds extra savouriness to the dish. Brown or white works fine.
  • Fresh parsley
  • Thyme
  • Bay Leaves
  • Red Pepper Flakes – Optional, but add a nice kick.
  • Salt and Pepper – To taste. The vegetable bouillon and miso are salty, so I used a very small amount of salt.

How to Make Vegan Vegetable Barley Soup

Here are the basic steps:

1. Cook your aromatics. Start by heating olive oil in a large soup pot on low heat.

2. Add chopped onions, carrots, and celery. When the onions are translucent, add the garlic and tomatoes.

Side by side images of vegetables sautéing in a pot

3. Stir in the miso paste and vegetable broth. Add your herbs.

4. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Stir in your cooked barley. Add water if needed. Cook for 5 minutes then taste for seasoning.

Side by side images of vegetable soup cooking in a pot

6. Remove from heat and serve!

Vegetable barley soup in a white bowl with a spoon on a wooden board

Recipe Variations or Substitutions

Gluten-free Substitution for Barley

If you are in need of a gluten-free alternative, you can substitute barley for brown rice, quinoa, or amaranth. All are seeds instead of grains. Any of these options would work really well.

Other Substitutions for Barley

If you’re craving soup, but don’t have barley on hand, no problem! Instead, try Israeli couscous, orzo pasta, ditalini pasta or any small pasta shape.


Try cilantro instead of parsley. Marjoram and oregano are great substitutions for thyme. Although, bay leaves seem irreplaceable, feel free to omit them.

Red Pepper Flakes

Substitute any dried pepper spice, including cayenne pepper and chili powder. You can also use some fresh chopped chilis.


Lots of alternatives to choose from! From potatoes and bell peppers to greens such as broccoli and cauliflower. Use whatever you have on hand or make it your own.

Storage Tips

First, let the soup cool to room temperature. Do not let it sit out for more than 2 hours.

Portion into airtight containers or plastic bags. Store in the refrigerator for 3 days or freezer for up to 3 months.

How to reheat

To reheat from the fridge, you can use the microwave or stovetop. A single portion can be microwaved for 2 minutes. Multiple portions are best reheated on the stovetop for 5-10 minutes on low heat.

To reheat frozen soup, the steps vary depending on the amount and packaging.

Reheat single portions in the microwave directly from the freezer. Make sure it’s in a microwave-safe container!

Frozen soup stored in a plastic bag is easy to remove. Empty it into a microwave-safe bowl to reheat.

A large batch of frozen soup can be thawed and heated in a microwave-safe container. Hit the defrost setting on the microwave. Or place it into a pot and reheat on the stove.

Serving Suggestions

Vegan barley soup can be served alongside any bread of your choice, a sandwich, or a salad.

Garlic bread, biscuits, dinner rolls, and toast are all delicious for dunking into your soup.

A small sandwich with roasted veggies or vegan sausage rolls would also be a great side for this soup.

A salad with leafy greens and vegetables would be a nice light and refreshing side dish.

More comforting soup recipes

Close up of vegetable barley soup in a white bowl with a spoon

Vegetable Barley Soup (Vegan)

4.82 from 11 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 28 minutes
Total: 38 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 163kcal
Print Pin Rate
This vegan barley soup is hearty, nutritious and incredibly tasty. It’s easy to make and is a great fall or winter meal.

Baking Recipes: For more accuracy, use Metric measurements and measuring spoons.


  • 2 cups (368 g) cooked barley, See Notes
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil, optional – See notes
  • 1 small (70 g) onion
  • 1 medium (185 g) carrot
  • 1 stalk (78 g) celery
  • 1 tbsp (15 g) tomato paste, or 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 cups (946 ml) vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) brown miso, or 2 tsp white miso
  • handful fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • red pepper flakes, optional, or cayenne or fresh chili pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Heat the oil in a large soup pot on low heat.
    1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
  • Add the chopped onion, carrot and celery. Lightly season with salt and pepper. You can add more seasoning at the end. Cook for 3 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
    1 small (70 g) onion ,1 medium (185 g) carrot ,1 stalk (78 g) celery ,Salt and pepper
  • Add the garlic and tomato or tomato paste. Cook for an additional minute.
    2 cloves garlic ,1 tbsp (15 g) tomato paste
  • Stir in the vegetable broth and miso. Add the fresh parsley, thyme, bay leaves and red pepper flakes.
    4 cups (946 ml) vegetable broth ,1 teaspoon (5 g) brown miso ,handful fresh parsley ,1 teaspoon (5 g) thyme ,2 bay leaves ,red pepper flakes
  • Cover and increase the heat to quickly bring to a boil then lower the heat once more to a slow simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the cooked barley. Add more water if needed. Continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes.
    2 cups (368 g) cooked barley
  • Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. Remove any thyme stems and bay leaves.
  • Remove from heat and serve.


  • ½ cup (108g) dried pearl barley cooked in 3 cups (710ml) water makes enough cooked barley for this recipe. For more details check out How to Cook Pearl Barley.
  • For an oil-free option, simmer the onion, carrot and celery in the vegetable stock then gradually add the remaining ingredients.
  • Try brown rice, quinoa or amaranth for a gluten-free version.
  • This recipe serves 2 as a main course or 4 as an appetizer.
Tried this recipe? Upload a photo in the comments below!If you enjoyed it, please consider leaving a rating. It really helps the blog.


Calories: 163kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1049mg | Potassium: 214mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 3154IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutrition Disclaimer
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Side Dish, Soup
Cuisine: American
Diet: Low Fat, Vegan, Vegetarian

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  1. 5 stars
    I love this soup! I add any vegetables I have on hand and use different grains as well. Tonight I used farro for my grain and added kale, green beans, squash and even a little potato to the onion, carrot and celery. I think the secret ingredient is the miso paste! I come back to this vegetable soup recipe over and over again! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much Terri! Farro sounds like a great addition. I’ll have to try it next time.

  2. 5 stars
    Great tip on pre-cooking barley first. This is a good recipe, so good that a few days ago I tripled the recipe. I sent 2 jars home with my daughter (a nurse) who messaged today ‘good soup, mama, lunch for the 2nd day’. p.s. I followed the recipe, just didn’t have miso.

  3. Stumbled across this recipe while looking for barley recipes, but I wanted to mention that Miso should always be added at the end of cooking because boiling kills the probiotic health benefits. This soup sounds great though and I plan on making it tonight for dinner!

  4. 5 stars
    I was going through my pantry this afternoon and found some barley in a small bag. I threw it in the slow cooker …and when dinner came I needed to figure out what to do with it. I found your recipe online and it looked good. It’s delicious…and a KEEPER! Thank you!

  5. 5 stars
    Good… wanted to add mushrooms but my partner is not a mushroom fan. Followed the recipe to a T and such a lovely layer of flavors… quick and easy. Saved some of the barley for my next cooking adventure… the miss paste is a bit pricey but added the Umami as you suggested.

    1. Thank you for trying it Brian! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Miso can be a bit pricey in some places but I find that a little goes a long way.