Mushroom Barley Soup: Healthy and Delicious

The best part of winter is soup! And stews. And heated car seats. This healthy mushroom barley soup recipe makes a big pot, so I enjoy it first for dinner and then for a few quick and healthy lunches.

Mushroom barley soup recipe overhead shot

Hearty barley and umami-rich mushrooms combine to make one delicious way to warm up!

As filling and hearty as this mushroom barley soup is, I usually pair it with a good source of protein to balance out my meal. Last week I enjoyed it with tuna salad. Often I’ll eat it with a couple scrambled eggs or some cheese toast with extra veggies.

What makes Mushroom Barley Soup so spectacular?

  • Well taste of course! But beyond that, I love barley any which way for it’s nutritional genius.
  • Barley gives us a good dose of the rare fiber beta-glucan, which sweeps cholesterol from the digestive tract and lowers blood cholesterol levels. Go heart!
  • And that same viscous fiber helps to manage blood sugar levels by helping the body use insulin better. Take note friends with diabetes or prediabetes!
  • And just recently I learned that barley, in particular, helps to diversify the gut microbiota. At a partially sponsored conference, Hannah D. Holscher, PhD, RD, assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois, Urbana spoke about research suggesting that barley, oats, walnuts, almonds and broccoli all contribute to the diversity of those microbes living and thriving in our guts. These are all terrific foods to include regularly in your diet, but Dr. Holscher’s greater point was that eating a variety of fiber types and a variety of foods with fiber (beans, lentils, grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and products like granola bars or cereal with added chicory root and other fibers) is the route to a healthy microbiome. Check out How to Throw a Dinner Party for Your Gut Bacteria. Go gut microbes!
  • And let’s not forget out the other health-boosting ingredients – those yummy, umami-rich mushrooms, as well as carrots, onions and celery! Veggie Power!

Want more barley and its superpowers? Try my Bean and Barley Salad.

What makes mushroom barley soup so spectacular? Here are 5 reasons from blood sugar to the microbiome!Click To Tweet
healthy mushroom barley soup closeup

The soup in this picture was made with fresh mushrooms only. If you use a combination of fresh and dried mushrooms, the broth is slightly darker.

I make this mushroom barley soup two ways, as you’ll see below. One way gives a richer broth, and that’s because of dried mushrooms. Otherwise, the recipes are identical.

Mushroom Barley Soup: Healthy and Delicious

If you are counting carbs for diabetes management, this soup may fit in perfectly paired with tuna or egg salad. But if the total amount of carbohydrates exceeds your meal target, serve yourself just a cup for a total of 24 grams of carbohydrate and 5 grams of fiber. NOTE: If you want a richer broth, use 12 ounces of fresh mushrooms and 1 ounce of dried mushrooms (I like porcini) soaked in 2 cups of hot water. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth and chop the mushrooms. Add both the mushrooms and the liquid to your soup. Reduce the vegetable broth to 8 cups if you do this.
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Course: Soup
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 7 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 22 minutes
Servings: 7
Calories: 200kcal
Author: Jill Weisenberger MS, RDN, CDE, FAND


  • 11/2 tablespoons canola or extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped (include the leaves if you have them)
  • 4 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 16 ounces cremeni mushrooms sliced (see note above)
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped or crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 10 cups vegetable broth to keep the sodium to an almost-manageable level, I used half regular and half low sodium broth


  • Heat the oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Sauté the celery, carrots and onion about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the mushrooms, garlic, pepper, thyme and bay leaves. Sauté another 2 minutes.
  • Add the barley and the broth. Raise the heat to bring the contents to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook for about an hour or until the soup is thick and the barley is fully cooked. Stir periodically. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
  • Refrigerate the leftovers, which heat beautifully in the microwave. You'll probably need to add more water or broth before reheating because that barley steals all the available liquid.


Serving: 1.5 cups | Calories: 200kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 0.8g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 830mg | Fiber: 7g

Are you a soup lover too? What else do you love about winter?

Cheers to a warming, tasty meal!

Jill Weisenberger

I'm Jill, and I believe simple changes in your mindset and health habits can bring life-changing rewards. And I don't believe in willpower. It's waaaay overrated. As a food-loving registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist and certified health and wellness coach, I've helped thousands of people solve their food and nutrition problems. If you're looking for a better way to master this whole healthy eating/healthy living thing or if you're trying to prevent or manage diabetes or heart problems, you'll find plenty of resources right here.

Leave a Reply


  1. yuvi food recipe on February 25, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Hi, your mushroom barley soup recipe is amazing. thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • Jill Weisenberger on February 25, 2019 at 6:45 pm

      My pleasure. So glad you enjoy it!

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