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This Mushroom Barley Soup recipe is not one of those bait-and-switch recipes where you have a bunch of cooking to do ahead of time. Just pile all the ingredients into your slow cooker and, in about 6 hours, you’ll have a delicious, comforting soup and a kitchen that smells amazing.

Mushroom Barley Soup served in a light gray ceramic bowl.

There’s nothing more comforting than hearty stews and soups when it’s chilly outside. Brimming with mushrooms and earthy, satisfying barley in a richly flavored broth, this soup is the perfect example.

Ingredients You Need to Make Mushroom Barley Soup

Mushroom Barley Soup Ingredients on a white marble board.
  • Celery: Look for firm, bright green celery stalks. Pro Tip! Be sure to check out the top where the stalks have been trimmed. Avoid those with hollow ribs that are a sign of dried out celery.
  • Onion: yellow onion or white onion
  • Garlic: fresh cloves are best
  • Dried Thyme: or twice the amount of fresh thyme
  • Dried Oregano: or twice the amount of fresh oregano
  • Chicken Broth: or vegetable broth, (recipe note #1)
  • Mushroom Broth or Beef Broth: (recipe note #1)
  • Carrots: with or without the peel
  • Mushrooms: white button mushrooms, cremini mushrooms or another variety you love or a combination!
  • Pearl Barley: You’ll want pearl barley (also called pearled barley) for this recipe. More on the different types of barley in the FAQ below.
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

The magic of umami.

This soup is meatless, but that doesn’t mean it’s not packed with umami flavors. With a blend of chicken or vegetable broth, fresh mushrooms (is there a ‘meatier’ vegetable?) and mushroom or beef broth along with tender barley for a silky mouthfeel, you get a rich, complex soup without adding meat. And it’s easy to make this soup vegetarian / vegan by using only mushroom broth or a blend of mushroom broth and vegetable broth.

Serve a steaming bowl with a side of crusty bread and I promise, you’ll never miss the meat.

Mushroom Barley Soup served in a light gray ceramic bowl photographed from above.

FAQ

Is there a difference between barley and pearl barley?

The two most common varieties of barley are pearl barley and hulled barley or barley groats. Hulled barley is the whole grain version where only the toughest outer hull is removed. This type of barley is more nutritious and has more protein and fiber, but it takes longer to cook.

Pearl barley is still nutritious and a good source of fiber, but less so than barley groats because the hull and bran have been removed. The polished grain cooks faster, and is the most common type of barley.

Do you have to cook barley before putting it in soup?

You don’t need to cook the barley before making this soup. The slow cooker simmers it to tender perfection, soaking up all of the other delicious flavors, during the lengthy, but hands-off cooking time.  

Do I need to soak pearl barley before cooking?

No, pearl barley has had the hull removed, has been steamed to remove the bran and softens nicely as it cooks without presoaking.

If you use hulled barley / barley groats then an overnight soak would help them cook faster and be more digestible, particularly if you add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice (see my How to Cook Farro post for more on this). And you’d want to add them to this soup in the first step as they take longer to cook than the pearled version.

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How to Make Mushroom Barley Soup

Add all ingredients to a slow cooker; stir to combine and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 6-7 hours. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Mushroom Barley Soup

5 from 5 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 5 hours
Total: 5 hours 15 minutes
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: American
Calories: 188
Servings: 6 people
Just 15 minutes of active time to make this comforting soup in your slow cooker / crockpot!   

Ingredients  

  • 3 ribs celery sliced into half moons
  • 1 large onion finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth, (recipe note #1)
  • 4 cups mushroom broth or beef broth, (recipe note #1)
  • 3 carrots sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds mushrooms sliced
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker; stir and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 6-7 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Notes

  1. I’ve tried this soup with all different broth combinations and it’s always delicious! For a vegan / vegetarian version use all mushroom broth or vegetable broth or a combination of the two. 

Nutrition

Calories: 188kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1247mg | Potassium: 779mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 5542IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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20 Comments

  1. Autumn Wilbanks says:

    5 stars
    Hi! Try for the life of me, I could not find the regular Pearl Barley, so I picked up the Quick Pearled Barley. Can I still use this in the recipe and proceed as per your instructions? I’ve got everything ready except this. Thank you

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Hi Autumn! I have not tested this recipe with quick barley, but it does cook much faster than pearl barley. My best guess is to add it for the last third of the cooking time, so maybe the last 1 to 1 1/2 hours on high or last 2 to 2 1/2 hours on low. I hope that helps!

      1. Autumn Wilbanks says:

        TY! I’ll let you know how that goes. I’m using the same amount as well. 🙂

  2. sherry says:

    sounds hearty and delicious. i do love barley and mushrooms. i make a similar recipe on the stove top.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thank you, Sherry!

  3. Monica @ Nourish and Fete says:

    This mushroom soup looks so incredibly cozy and flavorful. I love the barley! Perfect for these cold winter nights!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thanks so much, Monica!

  4. Guido Marsupio says:

    So regarding the mushroom broth, couldn’t you just put some soaked and finely chopped dried porcini in rather than making a whole broth project?

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Hi Guido! In the recipe, I’m referring to commercial mushroom broth that you can buy in boxes. But you could certainly add dried porcini mushrooms to this soup for an even deeper mushroom flavor.

      1. Guido Marsupio says:

        Thanks, Marissa. Didn’t realize you meant commercial broth. Makes sense now, but I think I will make my own from dried Porcinis.

        1. Marissa Stevens says:

          I’m sure that will be delicious! I’d love to hear how it goes.