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Hearty Vegetable Barley Soup

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: Soup
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan


A homemade vegetable barley soup recipe with a rich flavor, chewy texture and plenty of healthy veggies for a warm, comforting meal.


  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion, diced (175 g, 1 ½ cups)
  • 2 carrots, diced (195 g, 1 ½ cups)
  • 23 ribs celery, diced (195 g, 1 ¾ cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed or grated (18 g)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste (30 g)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, optional
  • 12 bay leaves, optional
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (290 g, about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup pearl barley (about 205 g)
  • 1 (796 ml) can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups or handfuls fresh spinach or finely chopped kale (50 g)
  • salt and pepper


  1. Cook Aromatics: In a large dutch oven or soup pot, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat. When the pot is hot, add onions, carrots and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 min, stirring occasionally, until tender. 
  2. Add Spices and Tomato Paste: Add garlic, tomato paste, thyme, oregano and paprika (and chili flakes or cayenne, if using). Cook for another 2-3 min, stirring often, until fragrant and toasted.
  3. Cook Soup: To the pot, add sweet potatoes and barley, stir to coat. Then add bay leaves, diced tomatoes and vegetable broth. Season well with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 20 min.  
  4. Finish Soup: Stir in spinach. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  5. Serve: Divide soup between bowls. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired. 


This soup thickens up a lot as it sits, as the barley will absorb more liquid.  Extra broth and seasonings can be added if making ahead of time and reheating.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days and reheated as needed on the stovetop or in the microwave. To freeze, cool and transfer to freezer bags or a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 362
  • Sugar: 15 g
  • Sodium: 890 mg
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 75 g
  • Fiber: 15 g
  • Protein: 9 g