Vegan Mushroom Barley Soup

Vegan Mushroom Barley Soup! Add soy sauce, balsamic, a mix of dried and fresh mushrooms, and spinach for a modern take on this classic recipe.

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings


  • 1 ounce dried porcini or other dried mushrooms
  • 2 cups hot tap water
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh mushrooms (button, shiitake, large or baby portobello, or a mix)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley
  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 8 cups water, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 3 ounces baby spinach (2 cups packed), tough stems removed


1 Soak the dried mushrooms: In a bowl, combine the porcini or other dried mushrooms and the 2 cups hot water. Set aside for 30 minutes to soak.

With a slotted spoon, lift the mushrooms out of the bowl and transfer to a cutting board. Coarsely chop them. Strain the soaking liquid through a sieve lined with a paper towel to catch any grit and reserve.

Mushroom Barley Soup Mushroom Barley Soup

2 Prep the fresh mushrooms: Whip any dirt from the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Remove the stems from all except the button mushrooms. Coarsely chop the large mushrooms and thinly slice the small mushrooms. Set aside.

Mushroom Barley Soup

3 Cook the vegetables: In a large stock pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic, onion, celery, carrots, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened.

Add the mushrooms, stir well, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Add the potato and barley and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.

Mushroom Barley Soup

4 Add the liquids: Stir in the reserved mushroom soaking liquid, water, soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaf, half the parsley, and half the dill.

Bring to a boil, then lower the heat. Partially cover and simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the barley and potatoes are both tender. If the mixture seems too thick at any point, add more water, 1/2 cup at a time.

Mushroom Barley Soup

5 Finish the soup: Add the spinach and stir well. Cover the pot and let the spinach wilt for 2 minutes. Stir the soup and taste for seasoning. Add more salt, soy sauce, or balsamic vinegar, if you like. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and dill. Ladle into bowls.

Leftovers will keep refrigerated for up to a week, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Mushroom Barley Soup