barley soup

Barley Soup Recipe

Updated: September 15, 2023, By Swasthi, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Barley Soup made with pearl barley, vegetables, spices and herbs. Barley lends an earthy and deep flavor to this spicy vegetable soup. With wholesome vegetables, spices and aromatics this barley soup makes a great lunch or dinner option. When the weather turns chilly, you reach out for comfort foods that warms you from the inside. And what can sooth you more than a steaming bowl of zesty soup?

vegetable barley soup made with pearl barley, vegetables and curry powder

You don’t have to wait for fall or winter to make this delightful barley soup. Cook this at any time of the year. Vegetarian barley soup is substantial enough for a light meal and easy enough to make. Prepare this ahead and you have a ready dinner for those busy workdays.

About Barley Soup

Barley Soup is a popular dish from the fall and winter collection of delicious and satiating vegetarian soups. Carrots, peas, corn and green beans are immersed in a pot of water with barley. Enriched with aromatics, chili flakes and curry powder, they create a flavor filled soup brimming with nutrients.

Vegetable broth is commonly often used to impart the extra flavor, but plain water works just fine. Once you’ve made this soup from scratch, you won’t enjoy the canned versions again.

What is Barley?

Barley is a wholegrain with an earthy flavor and chewy texture. It is rich in fiber. Barley has good amounts of folates, mineral and vitamins, including selenium (an important immunity boosting and brain food).

Of the three varieties of barley, hulled is the most nutritious of the lot. However, it takes a long time to cook. Quick acting barley comes together in 10 minutes but lacks the nutrient content of hulled and pearl.

Pearl barley falls somewhere in the middle and is the preferred grain for stews, chowders and soups including this one.

My recipe

I am sharing a quick and effortless soup made with everyday ingredients and common vegetables.

You don’t have to scour farmer markets or ethnic stores searching for that elusive ingredient. As for pearl barley, you’ll find it in most grocery stores.

You probably have carrot, peas and potatoes sitting in your pantry. Gather them and you can get soup ready less than 30 minutes. If you prefer to work with soaked grains, soak the barley overnight.

Cook this delicious one-pot dish on the stove top, in an instant pot or the slow cooker without affecting the texture or flavor.

More Recipes
Spinach Soup
Vegetable Soup
Tomato Soup
Manchow Soup
Sweet corn Soup

How to make Barley Soup (Stepwise Photos)

Prepare the barley and vegetables

1. Add ½ cup of pearl barley to a pot and rinse well a couple of times. Drain and set aside. Soak the barley for 4-8 hours, if desired.

Finely chop ginger, garlic, coriander and parsley. Dice the carrots, green or French beans. Peel the potato and dice into 1-inch pieces.

Make the Barley Soup

2. Add ¾ to 1 tablespoon oil or butter to a large saucepan or soup pot and heat on high. Reduce the heat to low and add ½-inch finely chopped ginger and ½ tablespoon (2 cloves) of finely chopped garlic. Sauté for 30-60 seconds.

Add more or less of oil as per your cooking preference or cook with grass-fed ghee.

saute ginger garlic in oil or butter

3. Add ¼ to ½ teaspoon red chilli flakes and stir in. If you are using a spicy curry powder you may skip the chilli flakes.

red chilli flakes stirred in oil

4. Add ½ cup of rinsed barley (& soaked if possible) to the pot.

soaked barley in a pot

5. Now add ½ cup of peeled and diced potato (1 potato). Pour 5 to 6 cups of water or vegetable broth.

potatoes and water to make barley soup

6. Simmer on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until the barley is well cooked and tender. Unsoaked barley will take longer to cook (10-15 minutes more).

simmered barley soup

7. Add

  • ½ to ¾ of cup tomato puree
  • ¾ to 1 tablespoon curry powder.
tomato puree and curry powder added to barley soup

8. Add

  • ½ to ¾ cup (1 small) of carrot
  • ¼ cup of green beans (4 to 5 French beans)
  • ½ cup of green peas
  • ¼ cup of sweet corn kernels
mixed vegetables added to barley soup

9. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and stir well to combine. Simmer the soup for 10 minutes more or until the vegetables are tender but not mushy. Taste and add seasoning as desired.

salt in barley soup

10. Barley soup tends to thicken while it’s cooling. So add more water or broth to thin it out. Simmer for a few minutes. Stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons of finely chopped coriander leaves or 1 to 1½ tablespoon of finely chopped parsley.

coriander leaves to garnish


Let the soup cool down a little before serving it warm or cold. Drizzle some lemon juice. Top with grated cheese or butter or cream if desired.

vegetable barley soup garnished with coriander leaves

Ladle equal amounts of bowl into individual bowls. This hearty soup works as a healthy mini meal. Transform it into a lunch or dinner by serving with crusty bread or a salad.


How long can I keep curried barley soup?

The soup is great for batch cooking or meal prep as it keeps fresh for 4-5 days in the fridge. Make a big batch of this barley soup for busy weekdays or potlucks. Reheat it adding some water as the cooled barley soup thickens a lot.

Why should you soak barley?

Raw grains and legumes have phytates (phytic acid) which hinders your body’s ability to absorb essential mineral and vitamins. This also puts a stress on your digestive system.

Plants contain lectin – a protein that can damage the intestine lining and cause leaky gut condition in some people. Others could experience flatulence and stomach discomfort.

Soaking grains prevents this. It is still a common method of cooking grains in traditional cultures in Asia and Africa. When you soak barley and other grains in water for a few hours or overnight, you improve the digestive process and make it easier to digest these foods.

Bored of the same set of vegetables in your barley soup?

Soups are highly adaptable foods. You can experiment with ingredients, herbs and spices in base or mother recipes, and this soup is no different.

Swap the vegetables for the ones in season or your favorites. Stick with vegetables that retain a little crunch even after simmering in the soup pot. I prefer vegetables that complement the nutty flavor of barley and the heat from the curry.

Ingredients and substitutes

Except for barley, you probably have all the other ingredients in your pantry.

Fresh vegetables: This soup contains nutrient-rich vegetables like carrots, green beans, sweet corn and potato (despite the carbs). Add your favorite vegetables.

Pearl barley: pearl barley is the key ingredients of this soup meal. You can use the regular or the quick barley version.

Tomato puree: This provides the tang and complements the nutty flavor of barley, Use chopped tomatoes if you’ve run out of puree.

Coriander or parsley leaves and celery stalks: Fresh coriander or parsley add a fresh feel to your soup.

Aromatics: Garlic and ginger contribute to the flavor profile of this soup dish.

Curry powder and chili flakes: Add heat to the dish and give a unique twist to the classic barley soup. Use more or less of these spices based on your heat preferences.

Pro Tips

Use pre-cut or frozen vegetables to save time.
Soak the barley as this helps with digestion and the barley cook faster.
Go easy on the chili flakes if you aren’t fan of hot spices.
Don’t use quick cooking barley when you make the soup in the slow cooker.

Variations of barley soup

  • This soup is extremely versatile and lend itself to different ingredients. Sub the carrots and corn with low-carb, or seasonal vegetables. Skip the potato or sub it with sweet potato, rutabaga, taro or other tubers. Add greens to increase the nutrition quotient.
  • To make it more filling, add protein like tofu, lentils, beans or cottage cheese.
  • Mushroom barley is a well loved variations of the barley soup. Add shredded chicken to make a meat version.
  • This soup recipe is vegan if you don’t use butter for cooking the aromatics.
  • Barley isn’t gluten free. Sub it with other whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, spelt, bulgur, teff or buckwheat.

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

barley soup

Barley Soup Recipe

4.95 from 19 votes
Healthy, fiber-rich and delicious one pot vegetable barley soup. This curried barley soup is easier than you think.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time26 minutes
Total Time36 minutes
Diet : Vegan, Vegetarian

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • ½ cup pearl barley
  • ¾ to 1 tablespoon oil or butter
  • ½ tablespoon ginger (fine chopped, ½ inch)
  • ½ tablespoon garlic (fine chopped, 2 cloves)
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon red chilli flakes
  • 1 potato (½ cup peeled & diced to 1 inch)
  • ½ cup tomato puree (or deseeded & chopped tomatoes)
  • ¾ to 1 tablespoon curry powder (adjust to taste)
  • ½ to ¾ cup carrots (1 small)
  • ¼ cup green beans (4 to 5 French beans)
  • ½ cup green peas
  • ¼ cup sweet corn kernels (optional)
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons coriander leaves or 1½ tablespoon parsley (finely chopped)
  • 5 to 6 cups water or broth (adjust as required)



  • Add barley to a large pot and rinse very well a few times. Drain the water. If you want you can also soak it for 4 to 8 hours. Soaking helps barley cook faster and is great for digestion.

How to make Vegetable Barley Soup

  • Pour oil to a pot and heat it. Add ginger and garlic. Saute for 30 to 60 seconds until aromatic. Then stir in the red chilli flakes.
  • Add barley, potatoes and pour water or broth. Simmer until barley is tender and soft. Soaked barley cooks under 20 minutes. Unsoaked grains take longer.
  • Next time to add in curry powder, tomato puree, carrot, peas, sweet corn and French beans.
  • Stir and continue to simmer until the vegetables become tender.
  • Add salt and taste test. If you want you can add more curry powder for flavor. Barley soup thickens upon cooling. If it is too thick for your liking pour more broth or water and simmer a little longer.
  • Stir in the fresh herbs – coriander or parsley.
  • Let cool down and serve barley soup. We prefer a dash of lemon juice and crushed black pepper. You may add them if you like.

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.


Watch Barley Soup Recipe

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Barley Soup Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 168 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Fat 4g6%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Sodium 487mg21%
Potassium 419mg12%
Carbohydrates 31g10%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 5g10%
Vitamin A 3209IU64%
Vitamin C 19mg23%
Calcium 56mg6%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

Barley soup recipe first published in April 2013. Updated and republished in July 2021.

Barley Soup Recipe

About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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5 stars
I love this soup. It’s so versatile. I’ve made it several times with different vegetables each time. Sometimes I use beef stock if I have it on hand. I’ve also used chicken stock. But fresh ginger and garlic are essential!
And it’s great year round. Thank you!

5 stars
HI Swasthi, this recipe is awesome and suits in the summer climate. Moreover, your pictorial representations are good and tempting. Keep blogging. Thanks.

5 stars
Hubs loved this. He prefers soup in summer time. So glad to have light healthy food!

4 stars
kindly tell me which fruits will be good in cold n cough..what food shld i use for toddler in cold n cough to heal faster

5 stars
Hi can u pls tell me 1 yr old baby receipes

5 stars
Hello swasthi, please can u give me some information regarding barley,it is known as jau ka sattu.As u mentioned the procedure to make barley flour can we use that same flour for making sattu?

Yummy soup n healthy too…. I'll definitely try this

Looks yummy n it's healthy too….. I'll definitely try this

Mouthwatering soup.. love veggies 🙂

lovely yummy soup…nice clicks too

very healthy soup!!

perfect clicks, soup looks very healthy…

even i made soup today but with oats 🙂 healthy and delicious soup..

This is a super healthy soup and I am so loving that slice of lemon.. very refreshing

wow delicious soup,yum!!

This is soo healthy and light.. I would love to have a bowl right now!

delicious and filling soup…

Very filling and comfort food.

I love this soup! Looks perfect 🙂

Very filling,healthy and definitely a comforting soup.

Healthy filling soup,nice one dear