This bok choy soup is loaded with vegetables and it's absolutely delicious! Made with tender bok choy, mushrooms, garlic, ginger, fresh cilantro, and barley in a flavorful miso broth. Ready to eat in one hour!
I like to eat soup all year round, not just when it's cold out. When it's chilly, I lean towards making heavier soups like this vegan lasagna soup, wild rice soup, or creamy lentil chickpea soup. During the Spring and Summer I always make this delicious bok choy soup!
This bok choy soup is on the lighter side because it doesn't have a heavy cream broth, but it's still super filling because it's packed with vegetables and barley. The simple miso broth is super flavorful and the fresh lemon juice, ginger, and cilantro leaves really take it to the next level. This soup is definitely not lacking any flavor!
Ingredients & Substitutions
This bok choy soup is very easy to make. It can also be made in the slow cooker. Here's the ingredients you'll need to make it and substitutions if you need them.
- Barley - You could also use wheat berries, rice, quinoa, or orzo.
- Onions - Use a yellow, sweet, or white onion. Leeks or shallots would also be delicious.
- Mushrooms - I used cremini mushrooms in this soup, but you could also use white button, portobello, or shiitake mushrooms. Frozen or canned mushrooms are great too.
- Garlic - I used fresh garlic, but you can also use dried. Start with 1 teaspoon and add more to taste.
- Bok Choy - I used baby bok choy. Sliced napa cabbage, green cabbage, or kale can also be used.
- Red Chili Flakes - I only used a pinch for flavor, it doesn't make the soup taste spicy at all.
- Miso - I used white miso paste because it has a mellow flavor. It tastes very salty, so you probably won't need to season with extra salt.
- Ginger - Fresh ginger adds sooo much flavor! If you use dried, start with ½ teaspoon.
- Lemon - Lemon juice is a big part of the broth. You could also use lime juice.
- Cilantro - Fresh herbs always elevate a dish! Don't use dried cilantro for this recipe.
How to Make It
Saute the diced onions in a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat, until the onions are translucent. Then add the sliced mushrooms and minced garlic and let it cook until the mushrooms start to brown.
While the onions, garlic, and mushrooms are cooking, cook the barley in a seperate medium-sized pot. When it's done cooking, drain any excess water and set it aside.
Next, add the chopped bok choy, ginger, mushroom broth, and water to the pot. Bring the soup to a low simmer and then reduce the heat and let it cook until the bok choy has softened a little but try not to overcook it. The bok choy should still be bright green and it will be tender and easy to chew.
Take the soup pot off the heat and let it cool down for a few minutes. Use a ladle to remove one cup of the broth from the soup pot and put it into a bowl. Let the liquid cool down for a few more minutes and then stir in the miso paste. Don't add the miso to boiling liquid.
Let the bok choy soup cool down a little bit more and then stir in the miso broth that you just made, lemon juice, and the roughly chopped fresh cilantro.
To serve the bok choy miso soup, put a ½ cup of cooked barley in each soup bowl and then serve the soup on top of it. Garnish with sliced green onions.
Slow Cooker Instructions
Put all of the soup ingredients except for the miso, cilantro, green onions, and lemon juice into a large 6-quart slow cooker. Add an extra 2 ½ cups of water or mushroom broth for the barley to absorb while it cooks. Set it to cook for 3 hours on high.
Check it at 3 hours and carefully remove 1 cup of the broth from the pot. Put the reserved broth into a small bowl and let it cool down. Once cooled, add the miso and stir until it has dissolved into the liquid.
If you're happy with the consistency and texture of the barely after 3 hours, add the cilantro, lemon juice, and miso paste mixture. Stir it in, garnish with green onions, and serve immediately.
Baked potatoes or sweet potatoes and a slice of crusty bread are my go-to choices to serve with this bok choy miso soup. You could also serve any of the following veggie dishes with it.
- Roasted Lemon Garlic Asparagus
- Roasted Maple Balsamic Brussel Sprouts
- Lemon Tahini Courgette Salad
- Pesto Veggie Bake
- Plant-Based Protein - If you want to add extra plant-based protein to the soup, white beans or chickpeas would be a delicious addition.
- Pasta - Instead of the grains, serve the soup with your favorite type of ramen noodles, tortellini, gnocchi, or orzo,
- Make it Spicy - Add more chili flakes or 2-3 tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce.
- Vegan Meat - Make it even more filling by adding sliced vegan sausages or cumbled impossible meat.
How To Store It
Store the leftover cooked barley separately from the soup so the grains don't absorb all of the miso broth. If you store them together it will have more of a stew-like consistency until you add more liquid.
You can freeze the bok choy soup for 2-3 months. When you're ready to eat it, put the container in the fridge to defrost for 24 hours. Then you can warm it up on the stovetop or in the microwave. Add a little bit more broth or water if it's too thick.
Frequently Asked Questions
I prefer to use baby bok choy for this recipe because of its sweet flavor and tender leaves. Bigger heads of bok choy still taste good, but they are a little tougher and take longer to cook.
Yes, the stems are 100% edible and delicious!
I like to thinly slice the base (lighter part) and then cut bigger chunks as you get closer to the tender dark green leaves.
You can use either, but I used pearled, because it's quicker to cook. Pearled barley usually takes about 25 minutes to cook. If you use hulled barley, it will take about 40-45 minutes.
I recommend that you cook the barley separately and then add it to the soup right before serving so it doesn't absorb all of the broth.
- Use small heads of bok choy instead of the larger heads of mature bok choy, because baby bok choy has a sweeter and more delicate flavor. Pick heads with lots of green leaves if possible.
- Dirt tends to get trapped in the tight layers of the bok choy leaves. To clean it, I slice it first and then soak it in a bowl of fresh water. Move it around with your hand so the dirt will fall off and sink to the bottom of the bowl.
- Cook the barley separately from the soup so it won't absorb all of the soup broth. Store it in the fridge separately also.
- Don't add the miso to the boiling soup, it will kill the probiotics in the miso. Add it at the end once you've taken the soup off the heat.
- Miso tastes very salty, so wait to add more salt to the soup until after you add the miso and taste it to see if it's necessary.
Want More Delicious Soup Recipes?
- Lemon Vegetable Orzo Soup
- Hearty Cabbage Soup
- Zucchini Potato Soup
- Lentil Stuffed Pepper Soup
- Tomato Basil Soup
Bok Choy Miso Soup
- 6-Quart Dutch Oven
- 1 cup uncooked pearled barley
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- ½ lb cremini mushrooms sliced
- 4 large garlic cloves minced
- ¼ tsp chili pepper flakes add more to taste
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 4 small heads baby bok choy sliced
- 4 cups mushroom broth
- 1 cup water
- 2 inches fresh ginger peeled and grated (about 1 tbsp)
- 2 tbsp white miso
- 2-3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups fresh cilantro roughly chopped
- green onions sliced
- In a large pot, saute the diced onion over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent. Then add the sliced mushrooms and minced garlic and let it cook until the mushrooms start to brown.
- Add the sliced bok choy, ginger, black pepper, chili pepper flakes, mushroom broth, and water to the pot. Bring the soup to a low simmer and then quickly reduce the heat to medium-low and let it cook (about 5-8 minutes) until the bok choy has softened a little bit. The bok choy should still be bright green and it will be tender and easy to chew, but not mushy.
- Take the soup pot off the heat. Use a ladle to remove one cup of the broth from the soup pot and put it into a bowl. Let the liquid cool down for a few minutes and then stir in the miso paste.
- Let the soup in the pot cool down a little bit (for about 5 minutes) and then stir in the miso paste broth that you just made, lemon juice, and fresh cilantro.
- To serve, put a ½ cup of cooked barley in each soup bowl and then ladle the soup on top of it. Garnish each bowl with sliced green onions.
- Don't add the miso paste to the boiling soup, it will kill the probiotics in the miso. Add it at the end once you've taken the soup off the heat.
- Store leftover soup for 2-3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
You should start printing cook books!!! I am so grateful for your recipes and all the extra information you provide! You are the vegan Martha Stewart! Please publish cook books. 🙂
Thank you so much, Teresa! That is so sweet! I secretly tell my friends/family that I want to be the vegan Martha Stewart, so you literally just made my day!!! =) I'm so happy that you enjoy the recipes!!
Joanna Ellen Richards
Could we replace the barley with quinoa. I'm not that keen on barley.
Hi, Joanna! Sure, quinoa would be delicious in this soup! Enjoy!