This hearty vegetable barley soup is ready in only 30 minutes and it’s absolutely loaded with vegetables and flavor! This quick and healthy soup will be one of your new family favorites!
I love shopping at Costco, it’s one of my favorite stores! I was inspired to make this Italian vegetable barley soup after going grocery shopping the other day and looking at the veggie barley soup Costco had for sale. It looked delicious but it had too much sodium for me. I knew I could recreate it at home and I think it turned out just as delicious as Costco’s version.
Here’s a list of my favorite vegan products at Costco if you’re looking for new products to try!
This garden veggie barley soup is loaded with a mix of fresh and frozen veggies and barley. I love that it’s so customizable because you can add whatever fresh veggies you might have little bits and pieces leftover or that one random zucchini that you find stuffed in the back of the vegetable drawer in the fridge.
One of my biggest pet peeves is wasting food, so this recipe is perfect to use up any vegetables that are on its last leg. Super healthy, quick, veggie-loaded and delicious is how I would describe this garden vegetable barley soup recipe.
How to Make It – Step by Step Instructions
Making vegetable barley soup is real simple! Start by cooking the barley according to the package instructions in a separate pot. Set it aside for later. Next, saute the diced onion in olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Add the sliced carrots, minced garlic, dry seasonings, tomato paste, and chopped sweet potatoes to the pan and let it cook until the veggies start to soften.
Then add the vegetable broth, water, bay leaf, and two cups of mixed frozen vegetables to the soup pot. Bring it to a low simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover it, and let it cook for about 10 minutes or until the carrots and sweet potatoes are tender. Lastly, stir in the diced bell pepper, zucchini, and spinach and let it cook for an additional 5 minutes or until tender but not mushy.
Can I Freeze It?
Yes, this barley soup freezes very well! I like to store the leftovers in an airtight glass snapware container in the fridge for 3-5 days or put it directly into the freezer for 4-6 months (freeze the barley separately). When you’re ready to eat it, take it out of the freezer and let it thaw overnight in the fridge. Then transfer the soup to a pot to heat up on the stove.
Slow Cooker Instructions
To make this vegetable barley soup in the slow cooker, simply put all of the ingredients (including the uncooked barley) + three cups of water (for the barley to absorb) into the slow cooker and set it to cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 7-8 hours.
Substitutions & FAQ
- Barley Substitutions: Instead of barley, you can substitute einkorn wheat berries, brown rice, quinoa, or any small pasta like orzo.
- Vegetable Options:
- Gluten-Free: This vegetable barley soup is not gluten-free because it contains barley. If you want to make it gluten-free, you can substitute brown rice, quinoa, or small gluten-free noodles for the barley.
- Should I Soak the Barley Before Cooking? No, you don’t have to soak barley before cooking it. Depending on what type of barley you use (hulled or pearl barley) will determine how long you cook it for. Cooking barley is similar to the way you cook rice.
- Can I Put Uncooked Barley In Soup? I recommend cooking the barley separately and then adding it to the bowl before you pour the hot soup on top of it to loosen it up. Also, make sure to store the barley separately from the soup in the fridge so it doesn’t soak up all the broth.
- Cook the barley separately so it doesn’t absorb all of the soup broth.
- Don’t add all of the vegetables at the beginning to cook unless you’re making the vegetable barley soup in the slow cooker. I recommend adding any softer vegetables like the bell peppers, zucchini, and spinach 5-10 minutes before you serve so the vegetables are cooked but not soft and mushy.
- If you do decide to cook the barley in the soup make sure you add an additional 2 1/2 – 3 cups of water for it to cook in.
Want More Vegan Soup Recipes?
30 Minute Garden Veggie Barley Soup
- 1 cup uncooked pearl barley
- 1 tbsp olive oil (or vegetable broth)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp Italian seasonings
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan pink sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 4 cups vegetable broth (low-sodium)
- 2 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large zucchini, diced
- 8 oz frozen spinach
- 2 cups frozen mixed veggies (corn, peas, green beans)
- 10 oz frozen red peppers (or 1 large red bell peppers, diced)
- Cook the barley according to the package instructions, drain, and set it aside for later.
- In a 5-quart dutch oven pot, saute the onions in olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic, tomato paste, Italian seasonings, paprika, salt, pepper, carrots, and diced sweet potato. Saute for 5 minutes until the veggies start to soften.
- Add the vegetable broth, water, bay leaf, and 2 cups of frozen mixed veggies. Bring the soup to a low simmer, and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover it and let it cook for 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes and carrots are soft.
- Add the spinach, red peppers, and zucchini. Replace the lid and cook for 5-10 minutes or until everything is hot and the red peppers and zucchini are slightly soft but not mushy.
- Add 1/2 cup of cooked barley to a bowl and ladle the hot soup over the top. Enjoy!
- To make this barley soup gluten-free, substitute quinoa, rice, lentils, riced cauliflower, or GF noodles for the barley.
- If you would like to make this vegetable barley soup in the slow cooker, I wrote instructions on how to do so within the blog post.
- If you don't care for spinach, you can make this vegetable barley soup with kale or collard greens instead.