There’s a depth of flavor that brings seemingly endless layers to this easy soup made with fresh mushrooms, lightly toasted barley, carrots, onion, and celery. So it’s no surprise that our testers are calling this barley mushroom soup “comforting” and “hearty.” I couldn’t agree more.

david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

The testers were delighted that a soup with “great depth of flavor” could be whipped up “fast enough for a weeknight dinner.”

Nancy G. described it as “filling without feeling heavy. There’s a lightness to the broth, yet it’s loaded with flavor.”

What You’ll Need to Make This

Ingredients for mushroom barley soup--barley, mushrooms, onion, garlic, soy sauce, celery, carrots, and oil.
  • Mushrooms–Feel free to substitute regular button mushrooms or another type, such as shiitake if you’ve got them on hand, or use a mixture of your favorite mushrooms.
  • Pearled barley–Give your barley a quick rinse in a colander before adding it to the soup to remove any dust or debris.
  • Mushroom broth–Many well-stocked supermarkets carry this, and it adds terrific depth of flavor to the soup. If you can’t find it, you can substitute vegetable or beef broth.
  • Soy sauce–This adds a lovely umami flavor and seasoning to the finished soup. You can substitute tamari or coconut aminos, if you prefer.

How to Make This Recipe

Oil being heated in a saucepan, then carrots, onion, and celery being sautéed in the oil.
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Stir in the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, and sauté until softened but not browned.
Mushrooms added to a saucepan, followed by barley.
  1. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until softened and browned.
  2. Add the barley and cook, stirring constantly, for a minute.
Broth being poured into a saucepan, followed by soy sauce.
  1. Pour in the broth and bring to a simmer. Cook until the barley is tender.
  2. Add the soy sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Common Questions

What should I serve with this soup?

The testers enjoyed this hearty mushroom barley soup with crusty bread and a simple salad on the side, but you could make it into a more substantial meal by pairing it with a grilled ham and cheese sandwich.

What’s the difference between Hulled and Pearled Barley?

The key difference between the two types of barley is how they’re processed. Pearled barley has the bran and germ layers removed, while hulled barley has only its inedible outer layer removed during processing.

As a result, pearled barley cooks more quickly than hulled barley but is considered less nutritious since it lacks the brand and germ layers that remain intact on hulled barley.

Can I make this soup with hulled barley?

You can, but the barley will require a longer cooking time to become tender. Plan for an additional 20 to 25 minutes of simmering time. Alternatively, you can pre-cook your hulled barley.

Can I make this soup in advance?

Definitely. The soup can be made up to 3 days before serving. Keep it chilled in an airtight container and reheat before serving. If it thickens as it sits in the refrigerator, add extra broth to thin it to your desired consistency.

Helpful Tips

  • Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Reheat the soup in the microwave or in a saucepan over medium-low heat until warmed through.
  • This recipe is suitable for vegan and dairy-free diets.
Two bowls of mushroom barley soup topped with sliced scallions on a table.

More Superb Mushroom Soup Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

A bowl of mushroom barley soup.

Mushroom Barley Soup

4.34 / 3 votes
What makes this mushroom barley soup so satisfying is a mix of mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion, and tender barley. Easy, fast, and eminently slurp-able.
David Leite
Servings4 to 6 servings
Calories206 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium celery stalk, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned, halved, and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • 6 cups mushroom broth
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions (whites and light greens), for garnish


  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened but not browned, 4 to 6 minutes.
  • Stir in the mushrooms and cook, stirring, occasionally until softened, and browned, 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Add the barley and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
  • Pour in the mushroom stock and bring to a simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the barley is tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Stir in the soy sauce, taste, and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Serve hot, garnished with sliced scallions.


  1. Storage–Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
  2. Reheating–Reheat the soup in the microwave or in a saucepan over medium-low heat until warmed through.
  3. Dietary–This recipe is suitable for vegan and dairy-free diets.


Serving: 1 bowlCalories: 206 kcalCarbohydrates: 28 gProtein: 6 gFat: 9 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 5 gSodium: 846 mgFiber: 6 gSugar: 3 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2018 David Leite. Photos © 2018 Angie Zoobkoff. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

What could be better on a cool fall night than a good soup for dinner? Well, this mushroom barley soup recipe is perfect for dinner. It’s easy to make, uses simple-to-find pantry ingredients, and whips up fast enough for a weeknight dinner. In just under an hour, we had a delicious and hearty soup.

I used beef broth as mushroom broth was not readily available in the several stores we checked. As this is a simple soup, use good quality ingredients, and it will be the star of your fall dinner. We served this excellent soup with warm, crusty, buttered bread.

This mushroom and barley soup is filling, warming, comforting, and light all at the same time. It’s full of mushrooms and earthy mushroom flavor. It has to be one of the easiest soups ever.

It reminded me of my Mom’s beef barley soup, only better. Please don’t tell my Mom! It was filling without feeling heavy. There’s a lightness to the broth, and yet it’s loaded with flavor.

I served it with homemade sourdough bread and a salad, hoping to get two meals out of it for my husband and me. It was so scruffy that we both had seconds. The salads went back in the fridge. I will definitely be making this again.

We very much enjoyed this mushroom barley soup. It has a great depth of flavor from the vegetables and broth. The tamari helped to enrich the flavor as well.

An accompaniment of crusty bread or the spectacular mile-high popovers make this dish a complete meal. Great for the fall and all winter long!

I love barley, so I was on board right away. And I wasn’t disappointed! This soup was substantial enough for a main course (with some good bread, of course!). And it was delicious!

It’s a great vegetarian/vegan recipe to have in your back pocket when needed. The basic recipe is also a good starting point for embellishments, like adding leftover cooked meat, poultry, and other vegetables and/or herbs. I will make this again.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 3 stars
    This is the first time I was disappointed in a Leite’s Culinaria recipe. As a lover of both barley and mushrooms, this soup was too thin for me, even after the barley absorbed more liquid in the fridge for the next day. I make a favorite lentil-vegetable soup with barley and split peas which thickens from pureeing some of it and returning to the pot – think I will try that with what’s left of this one and then stick to my favorite.

    1. Roni, i’m sorry to hear that. Tell me how it goes when you thicken it. Perhaps we can add that to the recipe.

      1. The thickening didn’t work out because there wasn’t much left of the barley and mushrooms after I tried that. Sorry.