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Mushroom Barley Soup with Fresh Herbs

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Mushroom Barley Soup with Fresh Herbs

Mushrooms and Barley: A Perfect Pairing

As the chilly winds of winter start to howl, there’s nothing quite as comforting as a steaming bowl of homemade soup. And when it comes to the perfect winter warmer, my go-to is this Mushroom Barley Soup with Fresh Herbs. It’s a dish that’s equal parts nourishing and delightful, with a depth of flavor that will transport you straight to a cozy kitchen, surrounded by the aroma of simmering herbs.

I’ll admit, I used to think of mushroom barley soup as a rather drab affair – the kind of staunch, murky concoction that my stepfather would mindlessly slurp from a can all season long. But boy, was I mistaken. In the right hands, this classic dish can be transformed into a true springtime delight, bursting with bright, herbal notes that practically dance on your tongue.

The Garden Advantage

You see, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to live in some wonderfully green spaces, first in Oregon and now in my current home of Omaha, Nebraska. And let me tell you, having a garden at my fingertips has completely changed the way I approach cooking. Home Cooking Rocks has never been more true for me.

When people ask me how I could possibly leave the bustling streets of New York City, my answer is simple: the garden. Sure, I could have found a way to grow a few herbs in Brooklyn, but the truth is, I never quite managed to make it happen. Growing up in the city, the idea of having your own little patch of green always felt like a dream – something reserved for the more put-together, resourceful, or wealthy individuals of the world.

But now that I’ve experienced the joys of living in more spacious locales, I finally understand the allure. The pace of life slows, and there’s an undeniable satisfaction in being able to step outside and pluck a handful of fresh thyme or gently pull off a few crisp basil leaves. It’s the little things that make all the difference – like burying your nose in a tomato plant and inhaling its grassy perfume, or savoring the burst of sweetness from a sun-warmed strawberry.

Embracing the Seasonal Soup

So, when I recently found myself craving a steaming bowl of mushroom barley soup, even in the height of summer, I knew exactly where to turn. My garden provided the perfect arsenal of herbs to take this classic dish to new heights. After all, I’m a year-round soup enthusiast, happily simmering away even on the hottest days, because sometimes gazpacho just won’t do.

Of course, if you don’t have the luxury of an herb-filled backyard, no need to worry. You can still create a marvelous mushroom barley soup with whatever fresh herbs you have on hand. And if I had to choose just one to feature, I’d probably go with the bright, grassy notes of dill. But feel free to mix and match – the combination of cilantro, basil, and thyme in this recipe is truly divine.

A Flavor-Packed Adventure

Now, let’s dive into the deliciousness of this Mushroom Barley Soup with Fresh Herbs. The first step is to sauté the onions until they’re gloriously translucent, then add in the mushrooms and zucchini. As these ingredients cook, they’ll release their moisture, creating a wonderfully earthy base for the soup.

Next, it’s time to bring in the aromatics. Minced garlic, thinly sliced celery, and a diced tomato all contribute their unique flavors, while the barley adds a satisfying, chewy texture. And let’s not forget the secret weapon: rehydrated dried mushrooms and a sprinkle of mushroom powder. This dynamic duo lends an unparalleled depth of umami that’s sure to have even the most dedicated carnivores singing your praises.

As the Mediterrenean Dish suggests, using a mix of fresh and dried mushrooms is the key to crafting a truly flavorful broth. And by adding a touch of smoked paprika, you’ll elevate the earthiness of the dish to new heights.

Marrying the Flavors

Once all the ingredients have simmered together, it’s time to let the flavors really marry. I like to let the soup sit for at least 10 minutes, uncovered, before serving. This allows the herbs to infuse every bite and the barley to achieve the perfect tender texture.

And the best part? This soup is endlessly customizable. As Kosher.com suggests, you can add beans, tofu, or even tender greens to create a heartier, more substantial meal. Or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you could swap in quinoa for the barley, as Food.com recommends.

A Soup for All Seasons

No matter how you choose to enjoy it, this Mushroom Barley Soup with Fresh Herbs is a true delight. It’s the perfect antidote to the chill of winter, yet its bright, herbal flavors make it a delightful option even in the height of summer. And with the power of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients at your fingertips, you’ll be well on your way to culinary greatness.

So, the next time you find yourself craving a cozy, comforting bowl of soup, I urge you to give this recipe a try. Whether you’re a seasoned soup aficionado or a newcomer to the kitchen, I guarantee this Mushroom Barley Soup will warm your soul and leave you feeling nourished, both body and mind.


Here’s what you’ll need to make this delectable Mushroom Barley Soup:

Ingredient Amount
Olive oil 1 tablespoon
Vidalia or yellow onion, thinly sliced 1
Cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick 8 oz
Zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch thick half moons 1 average sized
Garlic, minced 4 cloves
Celery, thinly sliced 1 stalk
Tomato, diced 1 average sized
Uncooked pearled (quick cooking) barley 3/4 cups
Vegetable broth 6 cups
Fresh black pepper To taste
Salt 1/2 teaspoon
Fresh dill, chopped 3 tablespoons
Fresh cilantro, chopped 3 tablespoons
Fresh basil, chopped 3 tablespoons
Fresh thyme, chopped 2 tablespoons


  1. Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion in olive oil with a pinch of salt until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and zucchini, and cook until slightly softened and some of the moisture has been released, about 5 more minutes.
  3. Mix in the garlic and sauté for a minute or so.
  4. Add the celery, tomato, barley, broth, pepper, and salt. Cover and bring to a boil.
  5. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, add the herbs, cover again, and cook until the barley is tender, about 10 minutes.
  6. Salt and season to taste. For best results, let the soup sit for at least 10 minutes uncovered so the flavors can marry.
  7. Serve the Mushroom Barley Soup with Fresh Herbs hot, garnished with extra herbs if desired.

Enjoy this cozy, comforting, and utterly delicious soup all year round! Whether you’re curled up on a chilly winter day or savoring the last bits of summer, this dish is sure to hit the spot.


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