Basic Vegetarian Barley Vegetable Soup

Homemade barley and vegetable soup with carrots and tomatoes
Homemade barley and vegetable soup photo by Brian Hagiwara / Getty Images
  • 45 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 35 mins
  • Yield: about 6-8 servings

Looking for the perfect homemade barley vegetable soup recipe? You've found it! This simple and satisfying vegetarian and vegan barley soup recipe is made with barley, carrots, cabbage, zucchini and canned tomatoes, and seasoned with plenty of onion, garlic, fresh parsley or Italian seasonings and the savory flavor of bay leaves. 

I love the crunchy and chewy texture of barley in this easy homemade vegetarian barley and vegetable soup recipe. Although the recipe recommends that you simmer this barley soup for 30 minutes, it really is better if you have the time to let it cook even longer, as the flavors take time to develop. This barley and vegetable soup recipe is low in fat, vegetarian and vegan.

If you like cooking with barley, you might want to try out a few more of my favorite vegetarian and vegan barley recipes, or, branch out and try some new-to-you whole grains, such as teff or kaniwa

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What You'll Need

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8-9 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup barley, uncooked
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups cabbage, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 24 ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley OR 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste (sea salt or kosher salt is always best)

How to Make It

In a large soup or stock pot, sautee the garlic and onions in olive oil for 4 to 5 minutes, until just barely soft. Carefully add the vegetable broth, barley, diced carrots, chopped cabbage, zucchini, crushed tomatoes, and bay leaves and bring to a slow simmer over medium heat.

Next, add the fresh parsley or Italian seasonings, and a bit of salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium low, and cover the soup or stock pot.


Allow the mixture to cook until the barley is soft, about 30 minutes, and preferably longer if you have the time, stirring occasionally. Taste, and adjust seasonings to taste as desired.

If you're not eating vegan, you may want to top this barley soup off with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese when serving. Or, if you are eating vegan, try a hearty sprinkle of nutritional yeast on top. 

Note that this recipe makes plenty of servings, about 6-8, so plan on having some leftovers. 

Like this vegetarian barley and tomato vegetable soup recipe? Here's more healthy recipes to try.

Like meat-free soups? Here's more vegetarian and vegan soup ideas to try: