Vegetable Barley Soup

$6.67 recipe / $1.11 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.72 from 64 votes
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Can’t stop, won’t stop with the yummy soups over here! Soup is easy, soup is filling, soup is an easy way to pack some more vegetables into your day, and soup (usually) freezes well. This week I’m bringing you this awesome Vegetable Barley Soup that is packed with tons of color, texture, and flavor. And thanks to a healthy dose of barley, it’s also super filling. I’m so glad this recipe makes a huge batch because I’m going to be living off the frozen leftovers of this soup for the rest of winter!!

Overhead view of Vegetable Barley Soup in a red pot with bread and parsley on the side

What is Barley?

Barley is a short, chewy grain that is great in soups, stews, salads, pilafs, and more. You can usually find it in the grain section of your grocery store, near rice and dry beans. It’s usually labeled “pearled barley” which simply means the outer husk and some of the bran has been removed. Barley does contain a small amount of gluten, so it is not considered a gluten-free food. 

Can I Substitute the Barley?

Yep! If you’re not into barley or can’t find it, you can use another grain, like farro or wheat berries, or even pasta. A small shape, like ditalini would be awesome.

Can I Use Other Vegetables?

The beauty of this Vegetable Barley Soup is that it is extremely versatile. You can add just about any vegetable to this soup, which makes it great for using up odds and ends of vegetables in your refrigerator and freezer. I used onion, garlic, diced tomatoes, carrots, potato, frozen green beans, frozen corn, and frozen peas, but you could also substitute or add in any of these vegetables:

  • Celery (add in the beginning with onion)
  • Zucchini (add at the end with green beans and peas)
  • Spinach (add at the very end, stir in until wilted)
  • Mushrooms (add in the beginning with onion)
  • Cabbage (add in the beginning with carrots)
  • Kale (add mid-way, with potatoes)
  • Beans (kidney, chickpeas, cannellini, add mid-way with potatoes)

Broth Matters

Vegetable broth carries a lot of the flavor in this soup, so make sure you use a quality vegetable broth, or one that you know you like. As always, I use Better Than Bouillon soup base to make my broth. It is full-flavored and I can mix up any amount I need when I’m cooking, without having leftovers go to waste.

Close up of a ladle full of Vegetable Barley Soup being held over the soup pot.

How Much Vegetable Barley Soup Does This Make?

This recipe makes a whopping 12 cups, which I would consider to be about 6 large 2-cup servings. Since the soup is mostly vegetables, I usually go with a slightly larger serving size. This is also a very thick soup once finished, so if you prefer it to be a little more brothy, you can add more vegetable broth and the yield will be even higher.

Can You Freeze Vegetable Soup?

Yes! This soup freezes great. Some people find that potatoes change in texture slightly when frozen and thawed, but it’s not something that I’ve ever noticed or that has bothered me, especially when in a soup.

What Do You Serve with Vegetable Barley Soup?

This soup is just asking for a nice piece of buttered crusty bread for dipping! I would go with something with a lot of texture, like a homemade no knead bread, cornbread, or sour dough. I wouldn’t even be against dropping a few cubes of Swiss cheese into this soup, for a little melty goodness in each bite!

Close up side view of Vegetable Barley Soup in the soup pot

P.S. If you have leftover barley, you should totally make my Baked Barley with Mushrooms

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Vegetable Barley Soup

4.72 from 64 votes
Loaded with colorful vegetables and filling pearled barley, this Vegetable Barley Soup is a healthy, freezer-friendly staple recipe for winter!
Overhead view of a pot full of vegetable barley soup with bread on the side
Servings 6 2 cups each
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 50 minutes
Total 55 minutes


  • 1 yellow onion ($0.32)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
  • 1/2 lb. carrots (about 4) ($0.45)
  • 1 28oz. can diced tomatoes ($1.59)
  • 1 cup pearled barley ($0.89)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil ($0.05)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano ($0.05)
  • freshly cracked black pepper ($0.05)
  • 6 cups vegetable broth ($0.78)
  • 1 russet potato (about 3/4 lb.) ($1.22)
  • 1 cup frozen green beans ($0.271)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn ($0.10)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas ($0.19)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice ($0.03)
  • 1 handful fresh parsley (optional garnish) ($0.20)


  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion, garlic, and olive oil to a large soup pot and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent.
  • Meanwhile, peel and dice the carrots. Once the onions are soft, add the carrots to the soup pot, along with the canned diced tomatoes (with juices), barley, basil, oregano, some freshly cracked pepper, and vegetable broth.
  • Stir the contents of the pot to combine, place a lid on top, turn the heat up to medium-high, and bring the broth up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let the soup simmer, with the lid in place, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  • While the soup simmers, peel and dice the potato into 1/2-inch cubes. After the soup has simmered and the barley is mostly tender, add the diced potatoes and continue to simmer for 10 minutes more, or just until the potatoes are tender.
  • Once the potatoes are tender, add the frozen green beans, corn, and peas. Stir to combine, and heat through (about 5 minutes in the simmering soup).
  • Finally, add the lemon juice to the soup and stir to combine. Taste the soup and adjust the salt or pepper to your liking. Serve hot, with fresh chopped parsley on top as a garnish, if desired.

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Serving: 2cupsCalories: 277.37kcalCarbohydrates: 52.82gProtein: 7.43gFat: 5.9gSodium: 1180.28mgFiber: 9.1g
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Front view of a ladle full of Vegetable Barley Soup hovering over the pot full of soup.

How to Make Vegetable Barley Soup – Step by Step Photos

Diced onion and minced garlic in the soup pot

Dice one onion and mince two cloves of garlic. Add the onion and garlic to a large soup pot (mine is 6 qt.) along with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent.

Broth being poured into soup pot with vegetables and barley

While the onion and garlic are cooking, peel and slice 1/2 lb. of carrots (about 4 medium carrots). Add the carrots to the soup pot along with one 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (with juices), 1 cup pearled barley, 1/2 tsp dried basil, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, some freshly cracked pepper, and 6 cups of vegetable broth. Stir to combine.

Diced potatoes being poured into soup

Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and bring the soup up to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and let it simmer, lid in place, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. While the soup simmers, peel and dice a russet potato into 1/2-inch cubes. After simmering 30 minutes, add the diced potato and simmer 10 minutes more.

Frozen vegetables being poured into the soup

After simmering 10 minutes, the potatoes should be tender. Add 1 cup frozen green beans, 1/2 cup frozen peas, and 1/2 cup frozen corn to the soup. Stir to combine, and heat through (about 5 minutes).

Season finished vegetable barley soup

Finally, stir 1 Tbsp lemon juice into the soup. Give it a taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking (I added a touch more pepper, but no salt). Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, if desired.

Overhead view of a pot full of vegetable barley soup with bread on the side

YUMMMM. Vegetable-y goodness got me all warm and cozy!

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  1. This was so tasty and more important – satiating. If you´re trying to lose weight or save money, this is a winner. The barley will keep you filled up and quell your hunger. Bonus you’ll get the much needed and neglected vegetables. We topped it off with some hot sauce and jalepenos – loved it. Thanks for the added benefit of the price per item : )

  2. This was so bland. I had to add a ton of seasoning to try and salvage it and it seems as though the cooking time is not accurate. After 30 minutes the barley was still really chewy and still 10 minutes later after the potatoes it was still chewey and the potatoes were not done either. Still working on it. Hopefully it comes out edible after a ton of tweaking.

  3. I left out the potato (didn’t have any) and used one one bag each of frozen peas with carrots and a bag of green beans, along with a (drained) can of corn. Ate it with some crusty rosemary Parmesan bread. Delicious dinner!

  4. Can you use frozen carrots instead of fresh, and just add them to the soup when you add the corn, green beans and other frozen veggies? Also, if using celery, do you need to saute it with the onion and garlic?

    1. Yes, and yes! I would add the celery in place of the fresh carrots, and add the frozen carrots with the rest of the frozen veggies as you suggested. ~Marion :)

  5. So simple, flavorful! Good basic recipe that can easily be adjusted based on what you have on hand.

    1. For sure! It will be amazing! I’m not sure if you mean Italian sausage (ground or links with casings removed) or something that you would slice up, but they can both be added in the same way! Before starting the recipe steps, brown the meat in the dutch oven with 1 Tbsp of oil (so it doesn’t stick). Once cooked, remove the meat from the pot with a slotted spoon and set it aside (leaving behind the oil and any stuck-on bits in the pot, which will give the soup tons of meaty flavor!. If there’s more than 2-3Tbsp of oil left in the pot after the cooked sausage is removed, I’d pour some out before adding the onion and garlic — or, if there’s not enough, add the remaining 1 Tbsp cooking oil (it really depends on what kind of sausage you’re using). Add the sausage back to the pot at the end of the recipe when you add the frozen green beans, corn, and peas. Since you’ve pre-cooked it, you just need to warm it through. ~Marion :)

  6. I used quick barley, like another reviewer, and ended up needing to add more broth. It basically doubled my soup amount, but I was ok with that! I froze half for another time. I did add a few more veggies and the potato to one half of my soup, and I’ll do the same with the other half when I thaw it. It reminds me more of a minestrone soup with a twist, the barley. Very tasty, and filling. I can’t wait to experiment with other vegetable variations.

    1. I’m sure with some tweaking this recipe could work in a slow cooker! Although, since we haven’t tested it ourselves, I hesitate to give you any specific suggestions that might not be successful. I’d also caution that the soup likely won’t be as flavorful if the veggies aren’t sauteed first. But don’t let me stop you! I’d suggest perusing some of our other slow cooker recipes for a gauge on cook times and techniques that might help you. If you try it out, let us know how it goes! ~ Marion :)

  7. I have made this soup over and over this winter. You must have the barley and use the Better Than Bullion veggie stock! It really takes the soup to the next level. I change out veggies each time – celery, spinach and/or mushrooms are all great additions. I made it once without potatoes and it was great that way too. This soup has made me love barley! (Swiss cheese on top is a great addition too)

  8. hello this recipe looks delicious but i would like to do this on a pressure cooker, dol you have any recommendations on how to do that?

    1. Hi, there! While this recipe may work in a pressure cooker with some tweaking, I am hesitant to give you any specific recommendations because we haven’t been able to test it ourselves and can’t promise the results would be equally successful. If you do try it out, let us know how it goes! ~ Marion :)

  9. These pictures are so pretty! Trying more meatless meals this year, and the heartiness of this one made it appealing even for my meat-loving partner in crime. Didn’t have barley on hand, though I love it. Used brown rice instead and added a bit of chopped frozen spinach that was in the back of my freezer. Pinching those pennies in this season. Will definitely try with barley next time! Served with cornbread. Yummy!