Recipe: Bean and Barley Soup

by Cate on January 27, 2015

Super healthy, super simple, and most of all, a delicious Bean and Barley Soup. It’s pretty much what winters were made for.


I have been on a soup kick lately, working my way through Split Pea Soup, Cauliflower Soup, a knock-off of Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup and, most recently, this Bean and Barley Soup.


Besides being the perfect thing to ward off those cold Winter temps, this soup is also great to portion off into small containers with individual servings for lunches for the week.

Which is exactly what I did.

Would you believe this was my first time cooking (and eating!) barley? The recipe calls for quick-cooking barley, which I couldn’t find anywhere. If you run into that same problem, just buy the regular barley, cook it separately, and then add it in.

Fennel, beans (I used small white), tomatoes, spinach, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Although there is a little bit of simmering timing, outside of cooking the barley, it is a pretty quick recipe to make. And easy! Basically adding a bunch of things to a pot, chopping only a few, and letting the soup do its thing.

Which is my favorite kind of soup.

The low maintenance, doesn’t-really-need me kind.

Quick enough to make on a weeknight, and paired with a salad and a loaf of warm, crusty bread, you have a delicious and filling dinner.

Or lunch for days.

Bean and Barley Soup
Recipe courtesy of Eating Well magazine


  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cored and chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed (I used small white beans)
  • 1 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking barley (I used regular barley and added in once it was done)
  • 1 5-ounce package baby spinach (6 cups)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (use the good stuff!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper


  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel, garlic, and basil; cook, stirring frequently, until tender and just beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Mash 1/2 cup of the beans. Stir the mashed and whole beans, tomatoes, broth and barley into the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in cheese and pepper.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanne January 28, 2015 at 7:57 am

I made a big pot of soup this weekend also and it is so great not to have to worry about putting together a healthy lunch! This is going to have to go into the rotation this winter!
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Meg January 28, 2015 at 1:32 pm

This sounds delicious! It’s become something of a ritual for me to make big pots of soup on Sundays. I love having hot, homemade lunches for the rest of the week . . . and we usually have soup hanging around until we’re absolutely sick of it!
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Doug February 20, 2015 at 12:16 pm

Thanks for the recipe – the only barley soup I’ve had before is beer/barley soup, and this sounds quite a bit healthier!


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