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

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  • HoneyBunny20

    Delicious. Will omit the potato and increase the barley by 1/4 c. since my husband is diabetic and shouldn’t eat white potatoes. The wild mushrooms, soy and balsamic add great flavor. Did double the amount of both the soy and balsamic. Thanks for this great vegetarian recipe.


  • KB

    So easy to make. I had stock on hand so I used that and added a can of pinto beans to make it more filling. Really delicious. This will be added to my list if ” go to ” recipes.


  • Barbara

    This is absolutely delicious. I always cook my barley or other grains separately so they don’t sop up all the liquid while sitting overnight. It’s a large recipe so served the second night with sausage. It’s definitely a keeper.


  • Kate

    I had cooked chicken I needed to use up so I added it to the soup, while replacing the water with chicken stock. I added more garlic, herbs, soy sauce and balsamic. It was still a nice mellow soup – perfect for a cold night. Oh, I topped it with a dollop of Greek yogurt (sour cream would work well too) and it brought it to another level.
    I will make this vegetarian next time and I was also thinking Beef: beef broth and either ground beef or leftover cut up steak. Yumm!


  • Sandy S

    I like everything about this recipe… except the barley. I don’t know why, but I just don’t care for barley. This said, I really do like all of the other ingredients. I think I will try it with Quinoa. Another ‘chic’ grain for sure, but one that I do like and yet somehow forget to use.

  • Bebe

    I am amused that my late Scottish Grandmother’s barley is now “chic”…. I’m not sure she’d know what the word meant, would smile when she found out, and continue to use it in her wonderful vegetable beef soup… I never talked to her about it, and she has been gone for decades, but I imagine it was an “extender”. An ingredient, not too expensive, that filled out a soup and made it more of a meal…