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Vegetable Barley Soup

Vegetable Barley Soup

Packed with vegetables and pearl barley in a flavourful broth, this soup is so easy to make and so tasty. Perfect for a tasty lunch and satisfying enough to have for dinner.
Course Soup
Cuisine Irish/English
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4
Calories 297kcal


  • 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion finely chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery finely chopped
  • 1 medium leek cleaned then sliced
  • 2 large carrots peeled then roughly chopped
  • 2 or 3 medium parsnips peeled then roughly chopped
  • 3 small potatoes peeled then cut into chunks
  • 100 g (½ a cup) pearl barley rinsed before adding to the soup
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced or put through a garlic press
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1.5 litres of (3 US pints) vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce or 1 teaspoon of marmite (optional)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 4 or 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 150 g chopped kale


  • Heat 1 and a ½ tablespoons of oil in a large stockpot.
    Add the chopped onion, celery, leek, carrots and parsnips and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes stirring often.
  • Add the garlic and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, stir into the vegetables and cook for a minute or two.
    Then add the chopped potatoes and 100g (½ a cup) of barley and stir again.
    Pour in all the stock and stir in 1 tablespoon of soy sauce (if using), ½ a teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.
    Tie the rosemary and thyme together and drop them, along with 2 dried bay leaves, into the soup.
    Bring the soup to a boil then reduce to simmer and cover. Leave to simmer for 20 - 25 minutes.
  • Check the seasoning then add the chopped kale to the soup and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the potatoes and barley are cooked and the kale is tender.
    Serve immediately.


  • Barley – I use pearl barley for this soup, it cooks quicker than pot barley and does not need to be soaked before cooking. Barley is not gluten-free so if you need to swap it try brown rice instead.
  • Stock – you will need a good quality stock for this recipe. Vegetable bouillon will work but lacks the flavour needed for this soup.
  • Vegetables – you can mix and match the veggies for this soup. In Winter I stick to root vegetables such as carrot, parsnips, turnips, squash, celeriac or swede and kale. In Spring I add courgettes, summer squash, peas, green beans and spinach. This soup is very versatile so use whatever you have.
  • Herbs – I use a mix of fresh thyme and rosemary tied together to make a simple bouquet garni. I also add dried bay leaves to the soup. You can add parsley to the bouquet garni if you wish. I also add some dried oregano.
  • Pro-Tip – When cooked in soup barley will thicken the soup. If you prefer your soup to be thinner then cook the barley separately and add it to the soup at the end of cooking.
  • Pro-Tip – Add a teaspoon of marmite to give this soup a richer flavour. 
  • Freezing/storing/reheating - You can freeze this soup once cooled. To reheat from frozen leave to thaw overnight in the fridge then reheat on the hob until piping hot. You may find a little difference in texture due to freezing. This soup will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, reheat on the hob until piping hot before serving.
  • Nutritional Information - is approximate and is calculated using an online nutrition tool. It is based on one serving of four.
  • Weights and measurements - For US readers, I use Cuisipro measuring cups and spoons, and a Pyrex measuring jug for liquids. These are the industry standard. Cup/spoon volumes can differ from brand to brand, for accuracy, I recommend weighing all ingredients if possible.


Calories: 297kcal | Carbohydrates: 56.8g | Protein: 5.7g | Fat: 5.9g | Saturated Fat: 0.9g | Sodium: 760mg | Potassium: 995mg | Fiber: 8.7g | Sugar: 7.8g | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 3mg