Mushroom Barley Soup – Simple Comfort Food

Well, technically, if you are making my version of Mushroom Barley Soup, it should actually be classified as a stew. Both my husband and I love barley, so I feel no need to use moderation when adding the pearly grain. So many recipes I see for this type of soup use a paltry 1/3 cup of dried barley with 8 cups of broth – ridiculous! The recipe below is filled with barley and mushrooms, and it makes a hearty meal for two, or a light lunch for three. And when I say hearty, I mean it. I am sitting here typing this with an ever-expanding belly having just downed this entire bowl …

Mushroom Barley Soup

 Also, I lost track on how much salt I used (bad I know!), but it was somewhere around ½ teaspoon, plus I added 1 teaspoon of miso paste (optional, can just add salt to taste; we tend to splurge on the salt with soups). The amount of salt you need will vary quite a bit depending on the saltiness of the broth and tomato paste you use and how salty you like the end result. I used the organic beef broth from Trader Joe’s, but I was ½ cup shy, so I added water to get to the full 4 cups. I also used a tomato paste that was simply tomatoes, no added sodium or flavors. While I do recommend beef broth, chicken broth or no chicken broth could be subbed in a pinch, and I think the mushroom broth from Pacific Foods would be good; I buy it whenever I find it for a good price, which is rare.

Okay, one last note … I was completely out of other veggies, but if you like, feel free to add in some diced carrots and/or celery for some added nutrition and flavor.

Hearty Mushroom Barley Soup / Stew

  • 1 Tablespoon Oil (I used grapeseed, but Olive or Vegetable will do)
  • ½ Medium Onion, slivered (about 1¼ cups)
  • ½ Cup Dry Barley, rinsed (I used the inexpensive pearl barley)
  • 2 Large Garlic Cloves, Minced (or about 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic)
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
  • 8 Ounces Sliced Button or Cremini Mushrooms
  • 4 Cups (1 quart) Beef or Mushroom Broth
  • 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • ¼ -1 Teaspoon Salt to Taste
  • 1 Teaspoon Miso Paste (or simply more salt to taste)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper to Taste

Heat the oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions, and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until they are translucent. Reduce the heat just a touch, add the barley, garlic, and thyme, and sauté for another 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in the mushrooms, followed by the broth, tomato paste, vinegar, bay leaf, and I would start with ¼ teaspoon of salt and the miso if using. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and allow the soup to simmer for at least 1 hour, or until the barley is nice and tender.  Season to taste with additional salt (see my notes in the post above) and black pepper to taste.

Yields 2 hearty, meal-sized servings

I had planned to make this soup crockpot-style, but as usual, I ran out of time. It should do well in a slow cooker; set on low for 6 to 8 hours, allowing the barley time to cook.

55 thoughts on “Mushroom Barley Soup – Simple Comfort Food

  1. BEYOND comforting!!

  2. Great recipe. This is on my list. I am going to try it with buckwheat as I stay away from the gluten grains- this might just become an addition to my cooking class that focuses on healthy comfort food. You should come!

  3. What a great, versatile recipe. I love mushroom barley soup, too–will have to bookmark this for when I’m eating ‘shrooms again!

  4. One of my all-time favorite soups. Yours looks delicious.

  5. ohh i have a thing of mushrooms in the fridge, maybe I will do this!! can I use chicken stock.. nah that would probably ruin it, just trying to think what’s in my cupboard

  6. I am a huge barley lover! This sounds great!

  7. Wow, that looks good! None of my soups ever end up as soups…they are always more like stews due to all of the veggies I end up throwing in there! This one is bookmarked to make soon!

  8. Looks yummy!
    I love barley too. So toothsome!

  9. Barley is one of my favourite soup grains, up there with wild rice. And how can you go wrong with a mushroom barley soup. That looks excellent, and perfect for a stormy day.

  10. Im a soup lover .. and this one sounds and looks soo delicious … its a must try for me .. Laila ..

  11. Mmm barley and mushrooms are a great combination. Your soup looks delicious and comforting!

  12. This looks SO delicious! I can’t wait to try it soon. I love your blog!

  13. this soup looks delicious and easy – I’ll definitely try it soon.

  14. Rina

    Just what I was looking for! I’m going to try it today and add a 1/2 cup fresh chopped spinach.

  15. Looks great, Alisa! This could easily be made gluten free by using quinoa instead of barley and ensuring that the miso paste used is gluten free. 🙂

    It’s good to see you at Diane’s Friday Foodie Fix!


  16. Lynne

    I made it last night. My daughter said, “Something smells really good!” It tastes wonderful too. I did not have tomato paste so used tomato sauce — and I did not have balsamic vinegar so i used apple cider vinegar — and it tastes so good. Will try to cook it again with ingredients specified in your recipe. Thank you for posting it!

  17. michelle

    great recipe….I made it for the family so doubled….used fresh thyme, veggie broth & fresh mushrooms that I sauteed in olive oil to make a mushroom broth & added those in in the last 15 minutes of cooking

  18. I made this with 1/2 vegan beef bouillon, and 1/2 mushroom bouillon, and added meatless meatballs at the end. So yum!

  19. Found your recipe on Pinterest, we had it for lunch and LOVED it! I’m going to feature the recipe on my blog 🙂

    • So glad you enjoyed it Haley!

  20. Leia

    This is now a favorite in my house! The first 2 times I made it without the miso paste or balsamic vinegar and it still came out delicious. I use low sodium beef broth, a little extra bay leaf, extra garlic, 12 oz of portabello mushrooms, and a head of chopped broccoli. I made it lastnight and added some turkey meatballs for the hubby. Even without meat, this is a great hearty meal that is super simple to make.

    • That’s great! So glad you are enjoying it Leia! Definitely divine with portobellos and you can never go wrong with extra garlic 🙂

  21. As a vegetarian I am always looking for yummy recipes, and soup is one of my favorite things in the whole world! haha Anyway, this soup is now one of my very favorites! It is so tasty, and even after freezing it (I made a big batch and my husband won’t eat mushrooms) it still tasted great! Definitely a keeper! Thanks!

    • So glad you enjoyed it Kara! It’s one of my favorites too 🙂

  22. This soup is awesome!!! I have a pot going for meatless Monday today and it’s perfect in this chilly weather! Thanks for the recipe!

  23. m

    Made this a few times now and it is a wonderful soup! thanks for posting the recipe

  24. Sue

    We loved this. I did add a bit more beef broth-2 cups more and used quick cooking barley. I also shredded one large carrot and chopped up about 1/2 cup of celery and sauteed all the veggies. It was really, really good. Going to make lots more and freeze it. Thanks for a great recipe.

  25. Jennifer

    So excited that I found this recipe! Question – if I’m going to double the recipe and use the crock pot, do you think I need to double the cooking time?

    Can’t wait to try this tomorrow!!!

    • Hi Jennifer, I’m so sorry that I missed your comment! I think the cook time would be the same in terms of doubling, but a crockpot would be much slower for cooking – 6 to 8 hours?

  26. Allie

    Just made this with criminis and shitakes. Added in spinach and cooked quinoa instead of barley and it was great! Did a double recipe and I’m going to freeze the rest 🙂

  27. Ann

    I want to say Thank You! This “Stoup” is wonderful! I added carrots, next time I will double this and add some sausage or meat of some sort. My daughter must have gluten free diet and this fit the bill perfectly.

  28. Jessica

    Made this the other night but added a variety of fresh sauteed mushrooms and vegetables for the last 20 minutes and it was wonderful. I didn’t have miso but figured a porcini mushroom bouillon cube would do the trick. It was awesome and easy to make. Thank you for sharing; it was terrific.

    • Ooh, I’ll be on the lookout for that bouillon! Thanks for stopping in and sharing your adaptation Jessic!

  29. SCDSister

    So easy to make and sooooo delicious. I made this with shitake, portabello and white cap mushrooms… next time I will sub cremini or porcini for the skitake (it was all I had available). Can not wait to make this again. The seasoning was perfect and I can definitely see this being a monthly “go to” soup, weekly even.
    Thanks for sharing!

  30. yvette

    just want to thank you for this recipe. i tried it yesterday and it was pretty amazing. my family loved it & i can’t wait to have leftovers today for lunch! so flavorful & hearty. definitely a keeper. thank you! 🙂

  31. Looks so delicious! It reminds me of a mushroom stew a Hungarian friend of mine taught me once — needs lots of paprika added though! 🙂 Totally making a batch of this tomorrow.

  32. mia

    Thank you for this recipe! I made it for the second time tonight (and added cauliflower for kicks), and it was fabulous again. The miso and tomato paste are clearly what make it so yummy. 🙂

  33. Rebecca L

    Wonderful! I used beef broth because that is all I had. (I am dairy free but not vegan) I also thickened it with rice milk and a little cornstarch so the husband could have his “cream” soup. I think you could add just about any veggie and it would be great!

  34. meg.

    This was amazing. Husband (not a soup eater) loved it. Added carrots and celery. My barley seemed to stay kind of crunchy, though. Perhaps it was the kind I used, and next time we’ll try another type. Excellent soup, will be making again, thanks!

  35. Gwen

    Made this for lunch and it was wonderful! I doubled it and added 2 T Braggs amino acids for a richer taste! Reading thru the comments I will add some vegan meatballs to make it a hearty dinner meal! Thanks for the great recipe!

  36. JHarts

    DELICIOUS! I added 1 c. diced celery, 3/4 c. shredded carrot and it cooked down too much so I had to add more broth (I added chicken because I”m making french onion soup and need the beef broth for that). I added 1/4 cup red wine only because I had some I needed to use up. I tasted it before the wine and after and either way is good.

    One of the best soup recipes I’ve tried in a long time so thank you…VERY much!

  37. I have to tell you I made this and it was absolutely *amazing* my husband loved loved it! There was tad more barley in the box so I just dumped it in cuz you can never have barley, right? We couldn’t eat it all. BUT the next day the leftovers were heaven! The barley had soaked up all the liquids so it made itself into the most wonderful risotto-like dish. I will always double this recipe so we can have soup one day, risotto the next 🙂 Thanks again!

  38. I’m here from Pinterest. I made your soup last night and it was absolutely delicious! I followed your suggestions and added some celery and carrot, and also put it in the crockpot on low for 6 hours. It came out perfect. I’m kind of addicted to spicy things, though, and added 1/2 tsp. of chili powder and 1/2 tsp. of cayenne pepper and omitted the miso paste. I’ve linked it back to my blog. Hope that’s OK!

  39. Sharon

    Made this tonight..good but would like cream-based better.

  40. Found on Pinterest, made for my husband & FIL and they loved it (I’m not a mushroom fan, so I passed). I added the celery and carrot as well.

  41. Patricia

    Have made this numerous times, it is so delicious! It is a cold, windy day here in the North East, this is whats for dinner. Thanks for the recipe.

  42. Steph

    I just wanted to thank you for this recipe, I found it on Pinterest last month and have made it 3 times already. It has been my go to lunch option this winter and i can’t get enough of it! I make a big batch at the beginning of the week and happily eat it at work 5 days a week.

  43. Kate

    Made this today, it was really fantastic. Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  44. This sounds wonderful! Looking forward to trying this one out soon 🙂

  45. Meg

    Made this soup last week with a collection of mushrooms, and all I can say is ummm ummmm good!

  46. Martine Houle

    Very good this soup, i make it today, thanks.

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