Vegetable Barley Soup

$6.67 recipe / $1.11 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.76 from 77 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

4.76 from 77 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. Hmm, I don’t know about that, Sara! They’re a pretty big component, but if you did, I’d add a little bit extra of the veggies and maybe three more cups of broth. Maybe a squeeze of lemon juice to make up for the acid loss with the tomatoes.

  1. This is my new favorite soup because I can just throw stuff in the instant pot and because all the veggies can come from my frozen stash. A++

  2. Delicious! My guest and I were both really happy with this soup.

    I switched out about a quarter of the barley for green lentils (lentilles du puy), used a yam in place of the potato since that’s all I had, and similarly replaced the peas and beans with zucchini and broccoli. It was excellent, as I’m sure it would have been if I’d had the real ingredients!

  3. I made this but used chicken stock instead of veg and I had a soup pack which contained barley, peas and lentils. I added a tablesoon of tomato puree for a bit more depth of flavour and it was really tasty and wholesome. Definitely one to do again.

    1. I just realised I kind of did the tomsto paste thing too, because I’m in the Netherlands where canned tomatoes are usually in puree instead of juice. I’ll bet that helped make the soup so good!

  4. Excellent recipe. My daughter made it tonight and I asked her for the recipe. Will make it very soon.

  5. It was delicious fresh and also after freezing. Still have two more containers in the freezer ready to thaw for a quick weeknight meal. Thanks for the recipe!

  6. We enjoyed the soup. Since I didn’t have barley, I cooked 1/2 cup of whole wheat macaroni and added it to the soup before serving.

  7. Absolutely delicious! Followed the recipe but added extra corn and peas as I didn’t have any green beans. Lovely and thick. Perfect fall comfort food.

  8. I have been making a “basic” soup mix for many years. Mine does not contain veggies such as green beans, corn, peas, etc., nor do I use broth as I don’t keep it on hand. That way, my friends can add the veggies they like. I use water, canned (or fresh cooked and diced) tomatoes, tomato sauce, chopped onions, minced garlic, fresh diced green pepper. diced celery, rice, chopped carrots, and Quick pearled Barley, fresh ground sea salt and ground pepper, . I sometimes add a little sugar if there is too much of a tomato taste, Bay leaves or Oregano – it just depends on my mood for the day. Since this makes a huge pot, when done, I add two to four cups of soup mixture to a freezer bag, place the bag in a low loaf pan of some sort, and place in the freezer That way, it is not bulky and takes up less space in your freezer.

  9. I really enjoyed this recipe, I think I might reduce the barley the next time I do it. I know it needs some sort of backbone to the soup, but for me it’s just taken over. I really love the spice level. I added pearl onions to the chopped onions. Added celery, and green beans. I loved it that way, but when I go back from going out to eat I added a chicken breast. Also good. Not vegetarian/vegan, but tasty.

  10. Amazing soup. I’m looking for more veggie meals. This will be a go-to for me. I substituted oats for barley and added squash and spinach. Also added double the oregano and basil Worked fine! Thank you!

  11. This recipe is delicious and versatile. I added celery and zucchini, and used a sweet potato instead of russet… only because that’s what I had on hand. Thanks – everyone in my family had seconds!