Mushroom barley soup recipe – an earthy porcini mushroom broth brimming with leeks, barley and mushrooms perfectly balanced by a heavy pouring of tangy cashew sour cream at the very end. Dairy-free, vegan and good for you whole food!
Mushroom Barley Soup
This naturally thick and creamy mushroom soup is reminiscent of a great vegan Stroganoff, with the barley grains in lieu of noodles and the tanginess of the cashew sour cream taming its earthiness while bringing all the flavors beautifully together. 1-Pot of cozy, healthy deliciousness to carry you through the colder season ahead.
This ancient whole grain was a staple of the gladiator diet thanks to the nutritional powerhouse that it is. Use hulled barley rather than pearl, as it is minimally processed with only the inedible outer hull removed. It takes longer to cook, about 45 minutes or so but it is so much more nutritious than the pearl variety. Think of it like choosing brown rice over white, you get all that good fiber and micronutrients in one package.
About the Mushrooms
I used tons of brown button mushrooms here, some of them sliced and some of them diced into similar size as the barley. I just like different textures in the soup so whatever shape you fancy will be fine here. Wash mushrooms before chopping them, they will not soak up water but they will be clean and taste delicious in the soup.
This is where that deep earthy umami flavor comes from, it’s an instant broth I made by mixing dried porcini powder with water. Alternatively you could go for about 1/4 cup of dried porcini mushrooms steeped in hot water for 20 minutes or so then into the soup pot it goes. This is different than any boxed mushroom stock one could grab from a supermarket shelf, it’s truly worth the effort to make your own.
Cashew Sour Cream
Easy homemade in the blender from cashews, water and lemon. It’s important to tame and balance out the earthiness of the soup. If using a powerful blender there’s no need to soak the nuts, otherwise a quick 20 minute soak in hot water is plenty. Alternatively you could use a store bought vegan sour cream but not to brag or anything, the homemade version with its lusciousness is so much better here.
- On Storage + Freezing – This soup gets better with time as the flavors get to mingle together as time passes. Keeps well in the fridge up to a week, you might need to add some more liquid upon reheating as the soup naturally thickens as it sits and the barley plumps up from soaking the broth. The soup also freezes well in individual lidded containers for a rainy day. Remember to thaw out in the refrigerator overnight and re-heat on the stovetop until bubbly hot..
- Add Ins – To boost up the micronutrient profile add in some chopped up leafy greens suck as kale, mustard greens, spinach or dandelion just before removing the soup from heat. Garnish with fresh herbs like onion chives or dill for a little “je ne sais quoi”.
- What can I sub for barley? – A good substitute for barley would be Farro, it has a similar texture but milder flavor. For a gluten-free option you can always use a short grain brown rice.
- Can I omit the tomato paste? – Technically yes, however the reason I use it here is not to add tomato flavor (you won’t even know it’s there), but for its natural sweetness to tame the earthiness of the soup.
- Crusty Homemade Bread
- Vegan Ribs
- Garden Focaccia
- Dinner Rolls
- Potato Flatbread
- Garlic Bruschetta
- Chive Pesto Drizzle
- Vegan Bread
- Crispy Roasted Broccoli
- Vegan Caesar Salad.
how to make mushroom barley soup
Mushroom Barley Soup
- 1 medium leek (or 1 yellow onion)
- 1 celery rib chopped
- 1 lb brown button mushrooms chopped or sliced
- 1 cup hulled barley (rinsed + drained well)
- 1.5 Tbsp tomato paste
- 3 tsp onion powder
- 3 Tbsp tamari or shoyu
- 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dry)
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- sea salt + black pepper to taste
- 6 cups water
- 2 tsp porcini powder ( or 1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms)
Make The Sour Cream
- Soak the cashews in hot water for 20 minutes then drain (If using a powerful blender such as a Vitamix there is no need to soak).1/2 cup raw cashew pieces
- Add the cashews, water and lemon juice to the blender and process until silky smooth. Refrigerate until needed.1/2 cup raw cashew pieces, 1 lemon, 3/4 cup water
- Clean the Leeks - Slice the leek in half lengthwise then chop it up into small pieces. Place in a bowl and cover with cold water. Agitate the water to loosen up any dirt trapped between the layers then allow to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes or so for all the sand and dirt to sink yo the bottom.1 medium leek
- Preheat a heavy bottom soup over medium heat. Using a spider ladle or just your hands scoop the leeks out of the water and transfer them to the soup pot. No need to dry them as the pot is dry at this point. Add a pinch of salt and chili flakes and sautee the leeks until wilted. (Optional: Once all of the moisture has evaporated you can add a light drizzle of olive oil to get some caramelization going).1 pinch red pepper flakes, sea salt + black pepper
- Stir in the celery and mushrooms and toss to coat well. Sautee for a few more minutes until the mushrooms have released all their water and it starts to evaporate.1 celery rib, 1 lb brown button mushrooms
- Stir in the tomato paste, spices, thyme and tamari and simmer another minute or so then add the barley.1.5 Tbsp tomato paste, 3 tsp onion powder, 3 Tbsp tamari or shoyu, 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast, 10 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 cup hulled barley
- The Stock - Combine the porcini mushroom powder and the water to create the stock.2 tsp porcini powder, 6 cups water
- Pour the mushroom stock in the pot over the barley and bring to a constant simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 45 minutes to one hour until the barley is cooked through. (If using pearled barley instead of hulled then it will be done in 20 minutes or so).
- Pour in half of the cashew sour cream, taste and add more to your liking. Serve hot with extra red pepper flakes, chives, parsley or dill.
- Porcini Mushroom Broth - This is where that deep earthy umami flavor comes from, it's an instant broth I made by mixing dried porcini powder with water. Alternatively you could go for about 1/4 cup of dried porcini mushrooms steeped in hot water for 20 minutes or so then into the soup pot it goes. This is different than any boxed mushroom stock one could grab from a supermarket shelf, it's truly worth the effort to make your own.
- What can I sub for barley? - A good substitute for barley would be Farro, it has a similar texture but milder flavor. For a gluten-free option you can always use a short grain brown rice.