Vegetable Barley Soup! Whether you’re looking for a satisfying weeknight dinner or a nutritious meal to keep you going, this soup is the perfect choice.
Packed with an array of vibrant, nutrient-rich veggies, this hearty Vegetable Barley Soup is a comforting, oil-free, and low-fat dish that’s perfect for the whole family to savor. From the moment you take your first spoonful, you’ll be greeted with a symphony of flavors and a comforting warmth that will nourish your body and soothe your soul.
Whole Food Plant Based, Vegan, plant based, oil free, refined sugar free, and no highly processed ingredients.
Hi there, Ameera here!
As the chill of winter sets in, there’s nothing quite like a steaming bowl of veggie soup to warm both body and soul. This delicious and comforting soup has the additional element of chewy barley to add some additional heartiness.
Barley is a nutritional powerhouse with a multitude of health benefits. It is loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, barley is heart-healthy, blood sugar-regulating, and weight management-supporting grain.
Tips for Success:
- Flavor Profile: This is an oil-free nod to a traditional vegetable barley soup. It is delicious filled with tons of veggies.
- Controversial Soup: We had family members who absolutely did not like this soup and others who totally loved it. We believe the reason is because while cumin is not a traditional ingredient for most vegetable soups, it does add some warm earthiness to the soup. On Day 2 (after being in the fridge overnight), the cumin flavor dissipates somewhat and the family members who disliked the soup now enjoyed the soup. You can leave the cumin out, but we felt it rounded out the flavor nicely.
- Oil-Free Recipes: This soup has great flavor. Because it is low in fat, we suggest tasting it 3 times before adding any additional seasonings. Oil-free, low-fat recipes tend to build on the palate. By tasting this soup 3 times, you have a better chance of not over-seasoning or under-seasoning it. Recipes with oil coat the palate making the spices and herbs feel smooth and more pleasing. Removing oil from dishes requires more finesse to ensure that a dish is properly seasoned. Tasting a dish 3 times allows the cook the chance to better understand the flavor profile and if the flavor of the dish builds on the front-end or back-end of the palate.
- Low-Fat Dish Expectations: This dish was designed to be low in fat. Because it is low in fat, you are not going to experience that endorphin rush associated with eating high-fat foods when eating this dish. It is very tasty for what it is, and that is a low-fat dish. We just want to make sure that our Readers recognize this when contemplating making this recipe. If you wish to make it more indulgent, serve the soup with some Vegan Parmesan Cheese generously sprinkled on individual servings.
- Boiling versus Simmering: This soup needs to simmer which is defined here as a low, very gentle boil. A rolling boil will destroy/dissolve the veggies and potatoes into the broth resulting in a less appetizing soup.
- Broth: This soup is packed with veggies. The veggies, especially the potatoes and barley tend to drink it up over time. If you do not have enough broth after the soup has been refrigerated, you can add more water or vegetable broth.
- Barley: There are several types of barley available. Hulled barley has been minimally processed to remove only the tough outer hull. Hulless Barley has the outer hull removed and retains all the bran and germ. Pearl barley is not a whole grain and is more refined through processing. Pearl barley is typically what you find in most grocery stores. Although it is not technically a whole grain, it is does contain fiber and some redeemable nutrients. We used pearl barley simply because we could not locate hulled barley. Feel free to use your favorite barley in this recipe. Adjust cooking times accordingly.
- Regular Chili Powder: Chili powder is not a traditional ingredient in this soup. You won’t taste it; the purpose of the chili powder is to nicely round out the flavors. Feel free to use your favorite chili powder, just be sure to select a mild one and not one that has a lot of heat to it.
- Hot Sauce: The hot sauce does not add any heat to this soup, it gives it a very tiny bit of acidic tang which compliments the soup. It is optional.
- Potatoes: We used red-skinned potatoes; however, feel free to use peeled Russet potatoes, gold potatoes, or simply cubed general purpose potatoes.
- Potatoes and Barley Cooking Rates: The key is to add the potatoes at the appropriate time. We used pearl barley and the size of the potatoes held up well for the 30 to 40 minute cooking time of the barley so we were able to add them at the same time. Do not cube the potatoes too small or they will disintegrate in the soup based upon the cooking timing of the barley that you are using as some barleys do take longer to cook.
- Beans: This recipe is very versatile; you can add your favorite bean, if you wish. We did not add any beans, but you can easily add them.
- Baking Soda: Baking soda is often used as a neutralizer for dishes that contain a lot of acidity, typically from tomatoes. We use it in this dish to remove some of the tomato acidity (from the petite diced tomatoes) without losing the tomatoey flavor. When you add it, the mixture may bubble up, then settle down as it neutralizes the acidity. However, if you prefer that ‘tinny’ flavor that comes from canned tomatoes, then leave out the baking soda or perhaps use a tiny pinch.
- Amount of Soup: This recipe makes 15 cups of soup which is quite a bit for most families. It freezes really well. This is a fantastic food-prep soup to keep in the freezer for those bitterly cold days. After freezing and thawing, you may need to add some broth or water as the veggies drink up a lot of the broth.
- Flavors to Marry: Make sure you allow at least 15 minutes for the flavors to marry. The flavors continue to develop once the soup slightly cools.
Leftovers and Freezing:
Leftovers will generally keep 5 days in the refrigerator. Store in a covered container.
This soup can be frozen.
- Vegetable Stock: We use Pacific Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Stock. We love this brand because it is Whole Food Plant Based compliant, as it does not contain MSG, has no oil, and does not contain any highly-processed ingredients.
- Regular Chili Powder: Feel free to use your favorite chili powder, just be sure to select a mild one and not one that has a lot of heat to it.
- Miso: We used Miso Master Organic Mellow White Premium Lite Miso, Certified Gluten Free. Miso really lends itself to balancing flavors when you don’t use oil. You can also use chickpea miso for a soy free version.
- Hot Sauce: We used Frank’s RedHot Original Hot Sauce.
- Dried Crushed Thyme Leaves: If you can’t find dried crushed thyme leaves, you can use ground thyme, but use half the amount.
- Sea Salt: Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.
- Large stock pot (at least 7.5 quart)
Packed with an array of vibrant, nutrient-rich veggies, this hearty Vegetable Barley Soup is a comforting, oil-free, and low-fat dish that’s perfect for the whole family to savor.
- 1 medium yellow onion, fine dice
- 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
- 3 carrots, sliced penny rounds
- 3 celery ribs, diced
- 2 – [ 14.5 oz. cans ] petite diced tomatoes
- 3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth *
- 4 cups water
- 1 Tablespoon white miso (optional) *
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce (optional) *
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda (optional) *
- ½ cup barley, rinsed well *
- 16 oz. red skinned potatoes, unpeeled, cubed (3 cups) *
- 1 – [ 15 oz. can ] green beans, drained
- 1 – [ 15 oz. can ] corn, drained
- 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 Tablespoons dried minced onions
- 1 ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 ½ teaspoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- ¼ teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- ½ teaspoon dried crushed thyme leaves *
- ¾ teaspoon cumin (+/-)
- ½ teaspoon regular chili powder (+/-) *
- ½ to 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt (+/-) *
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- ¾ cup frozen peas
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- Place the Spice/Herb Ingredients (except the bay leaf) in a small bowl, mix well, set aside.
- In a large stock pot, add the diced onions, carrots, and celery; sauté over medium heat until they begin to soften, approximately 7 to 9 minutes. Add a tablespoon or so of vegetable broth or water if they start to stick and/or to prevent burning.
- Add the minced garlic to the pot, stir constantly for one minute.
- Add all the remaining Base Ingredients (except the baking soda) and the Spice/Herb Mix, bring to a boil, then immediately lower to a simmer, then add the baking soda, stir well, tuck in the bay leaf,
- Next add all the Add-In Ingredients, simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until the potatoes and barley become tender, stirring occasionally.
- Once the potatoes and barley become tender, add all the Other Ingredients, simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Allow to sit for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to marry. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Serve with flatbread and enjoy.
*Please reference the blog post for Tips for Success, Pantry Items Used, Storage and Freezing, and Kitchen Products Used.
*Sea Salt: Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.
*Servings: 8 to 10 (makes 15 cups)
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