Mushroom Barley Soup

Our advice: do not make this hearty soup when you’re hungry. It takes a long time to cook and tastes even better the second day! It is, however, worth the wait, since it’s about as delicious and warming as a soup can be. Serve it with a salad and some bread and you’ll have a perfect dinner. (And leftovers are great for your Thermos.)

kitchen gear

  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife (adult needed)
  • Large heavy-bottomed pot
  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cup
  • Wooden spoon or heatproof spatula
  • Pot holder



  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed or peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (depending on how much you like thyme)
  • 1 pound white, cremini, or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1⁄2 cup pearl barley
  • 10 cup low-sodium beef, chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • salt
  • black pepper



  • Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium. When it is hot, carefully add the oil. 
  • Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and thyme and cook until tender, 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms and barley and stir well. 
  • Add the broth, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. As soon as the soup boils, turn the heat down to low and cook, partially covered, for 2–2 1/2 hours, stirring frequently. 
  • Now taste the soup. Does it need anything to boost the flavor? More thyme? A squeeze of lemon juice? A pinch of salt or a grinding of black pepper? Add whatever you think it needs, then serve right away or transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.


Substitute brown or wild rice for the barley.

Add 1/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, chopped tomatoes, or baby spinach 10 minutes before you’re finished cooking. 

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