Easy Homemade Vegetarian Barley and Vegetable Soup

Basic vegetarian barley soup

The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
133 Calories
4g Fat
23g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 133
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 164mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 6g 22%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 28mg 142%
Calcium 72mg 6%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 411mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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. 

The crunchy and chewy texture of barley is warming and comforting 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 and ancient grains, such as teff or kaniwa. There are many more vegetarian soup recipes to try.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 8 to 9 cups water

  • 3/4 cup uncooked barley

  • 2 carrots, diced

  • 1 1/2 cups sliced cabbage

  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced

  • 1 (24-ounce) can diced tomatoes

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley

  • Sea salt, or kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for vegetarian barley soup
    The Spruce
  2. In a large soup or stockpot, sauté the minced garlic and the diced onions in olive oil for 4 to 5 minutes, until just barely soft.

    Onions in pot
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  3. Carefully add in the water along with the barley, diced carrots, chopped cabbage, zucchini, crushed tomatoes, and bay leaves and bring to a slow simmer over medium heat.

    Carefully add in vegetable broth
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  4. Next, add the fresh parsley, and a bit of salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium low, and cover the soup or stock pot.

    Add fresh parsley
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  5. 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 as desired.

    Cook until barley is soft
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  6. Remember to remove the bay leaves before serving.

  7. 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. 

    Vegetable barley soup
    The Spruce 
  8. Enjoy!

Recipe Variations

  • Use vegetable broth rather than water.
  • If you don't have fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning is a great substitute.