This soup is for serious mushroom lovers, dense and satisfying.  It’s more like a stew, actually, totally crammed with mushrooms and those lovely chewy nubs of barley.  Use vegetable broth and it’s vegetarian, and in fact, also vegan! Perfect for a chilly night, and it reheats like a dream.

This is the best mushroom barley soup recipe ever, a family favorite. It’s one of the recipes I must make when a kid comes home from school. It’s also our Thanksgiving lunch every year, robust enough to fill you up, but still leave room for a big meal later in the day.

Very Mushroomy Mushroom Barley Soup

What Type of Mushrooms to Use in Soup

You can absolutely use button mushrooms, available packaged in every supermarket, but many markets are also now carrying a wide range of the more exotic varieties, either packaged or in bulk.  You can combine as many different types as you like in this recipe.

Creminis: Also known as baby portobellos, these are widely available, and very sturdy.   They are still mild in flavor, but a bit more interesting than plain old button mushrooms.

Portobellos: This mushroom is actually a very mature button mushroom, with a fully grown out cap. The portobello  has a meaty texture, great for grilling, and portobello “burgers” are a vegetarian’s good friend come summertime.  

Shiitake: This is a favorite of mine, often called for in Asian recipes.   They are savory and meaty, and have a lot of umami punch.

Very Mushroomy Mushroom Barley Soup

The dried mushrooms add another layer of mushroom flavor, as does the liquid they are soaked with.  You can use any type of dried mushroom here, from chanterelle to porcini to shiitake to oyster to portobello to a mix—there are some nice dried mushroom blends on the market. Try dried morels, too, for a really special treat!

A hearty vegetarian cold weather soup for mushroom lovers.

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Very Mushroomy Mushroom Barley Soup

How to Make the Best Mushroom Barley Soup

Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover them with hot water. Let soak for 20 minutes. Remove the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid, and finely chop the soaked mushrooms. Return them to the soaking liquid.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot, then saute the onions, garlic and thyme, and season with salt and pepper until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms cook until tender and lightly browned, and any liquid that they released has evaporated, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the flour. Add broth and increase the heat to high. When the soup is simmering add the bay leaves, uncooked barley and dried mushrooms in their soaking liquid a to the soup. Yes, you will be cooking the barley in the soup, no need to cook it first. And it will get more tender as it cooks, but do keep an eye and stop cooking the barley before it’s overcooked. You want it just tender and ever so slightly chewy.

Continue to simmer, uncovered, until the barley is tender, about 45 minutes. Add more water or broth if the soup is too thick. Serve hot, with scallions and parsley sprinkled on each serving if using.

If you make it ahead, or if you have leftovers, you will notice that it continues to thicken when it cools, especially when refrigerated.  The barley and even the mushrooms will keep absorbing the liquid, so you’ll want to add more liquid when you reheat it.  You could add more broth (again, vegetarian broth makes this a vegan soup), but the flavors are pretty rich and deep, so plain old water might be better, to lighten things up a bit. Leftover mushroom barley soup will last for up to 4 days.

Very Mushroomy Mushroom Barley Soup

What To Serve with Mushroom Barley Soup

A nice crusty loaf of good bread is an amazing companion for mushroom barley soup, to dunk and then swipe up every last delicious drop! A basket of hot rolls, Irish Soda Bread, or Beer Bread would also be lovely. Also think about garlic bread; try: Best Garlic Bread Ever, Ranch Garlic Bread, Salsa Verde Garlic Bread, Chimichurri Garlic Bread, or Spinach Parsley Pesto Garlic Bread.

Cornbread is also a great companion: try Cheddar Cornbread, Molasses Cornbread, Easy Cornbread, Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread

More Recipes with Mushrooms:

Very Mushroomy Mushroom Barley Soup

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Mushroom Barley Soup

A hearty cold weather soup for mushroom lovers. Rich and satisfying (and also vegan)!
Yield: 6 Servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Diet: Vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms (or other dried mushrooms of choice)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh minced thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 10 cups sliced and roughly chopped fresh mushrooms any type
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 8 cups less-sodium chicken or vegetable broth or more as needed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup pearl barley
  • Sliced scallions and chopped fresh parsley to garnish (optional)

Directions

  • Place the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and cover them with the hot water. Let soak for 20 minutes. Remove the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid, and finely chop the soaked mushrooms. Return them to the soaking liquid.
  • Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and stir until the have become tender and lightly browned, and any liquid that they released has evaporated, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the flour and stir for one minute until it blends into the mushrooms. Add broth and increase the heat to high. When the soup is simmering add the bay leaves, barley and dried mushrooms in their soaking liquid a to the soup. Continue to simmer, uncovered, until the barley is tender, about 45 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add more water or broth if the soup is too thick. Check the seasonings towards the end and add salt and pepper if needed.
  • Serve hot, with scallions and parsley sprinkled on each serving if using.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 242kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 110mg | Potassium: 937mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 32IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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Comments

  1. I made this recipe and while very mushroomy tasting, it was very watery! It didn’t look anything like the accompanying photos. I would definitely cut back on the broth!

    1. So odd! Some mushrooms contain a lot of water, so they may have released it into the soup. Thanks for noting.

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