We gotta eat... Why not make it delicious?!

Hearty Bean & Barley Soup

Close up photo of hearty bean and barley soup.

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The cold has officially settled in and that means comfort food is a must! It warms the soul, and your insides as you brace yourself for the winter ahead. Don’t get me wrong, winter and the snow can be beautiful and the perfect excuse for a good soup or stew, but sometimes it lasts a little too long for my taste.

But since I can’t change the weather in Montreal (and I’m not looking into moving), time to suck it up and turn up the heat! Which, although we haven’t turned on our heat yet, hopefully, my boyfriend and I did a good job at keeping our baseboard heaters relatively dust-free – because the smell of semi-burning dust bunnies is never pleasant.

Photo collage of preparation of hearty bean and barley soup.

Apart from turning up the heat in the condo, I’ve already started making soul-warming comfort food – and one of my favorites is beef stew. My mom’s simple and easy beef stew recipe is already on the blog (and it is the only stew recipe I make) but last winter and this fall I’ve been experimenting with making it in my multi-cooker. I think I almost have the winning formula, so look out for an update!

Apart from the beef stew, a recipe I consider comfort food (and I make it often) is this hearty bean and barley soup. I love it because it is not only easy to make, but it is also filling and healthy and comes together relatively quickly. It’s a perfect recipe for meal prep Sundays and travels well to work – it is ultimately the perfect fall soup (you know, along with other great fall soups like caldo verde and spicy lentil sausage).

Close up of a bowl of hearty bean and barley soup.

What’s great about this recipe is once you know it, you probably don’t have to go back to the recipe if you want to make it again. As in many vegetable-based soups, it starts with a mirepoix (basically sauteing onions, carrots and celery in your choice of fat) then you add some sort of liquid, tomatoes barley, beans and spinach! If you add more spinach one day and less barley another, the recipe still holds true to its yummy flavor – so don’t sweat if you don’t have the right quantities.

Also, I made this hearty bean and barley soup vegetarian/vegan by using water as the base. If you would like, you can also use homemade or store-bought vegetable broth. Usually my homemade vegetable broth is about 6 cups of water simmered for 30-45 minutes with carrots, onions, celery, salt and pepper – all of which are already in the soup! So I just skip making a broth because one gets made as the soup simmers and the barley cooks!

Hope you enjoy!

Three bowls of hearty bean and barley soup on a grey background with spinach leaves and uncooked barley artistically placed.
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
55 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins

Packed with vegetables, beans and barley, this hearty bean and barley soup is not only comfort in a bowl but it’s healthy too!

Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 240 kcal
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced celery (about 4 ribs)
  • 1 cup sliced carrots (about 3 medium)
  • 1 cup diced onions (about 1 medium)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup diced canned tomatoes and their juices
  • 1/3 cup pearl barley
  • 1 19oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In a heavy bottom pot over medium heat, saute olive oil, celery, carrots and onions until the onions start to become translucent, about 5 mins. 

  2. Season with salt.

  3. Add water and tomatoes.

  4. Bring soup to a boil and add the pearl barley.

  5. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes with the lid on.

  6. Add kidney beans and continue to cook covered until the barley is tender, about 20 to 25 minutes more.

  7. Stir in spinach until just wilted, season with salt and pepper, serve.

Recipe Notes

This soup is great for lunches! Make it on Sunday for lunch or super and have two servings for lunch during the week.


If you’re in the market for a heavy bottom pot, I love my 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset dutch oven!

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Hearty Bean & Barley Soup -  Packed with vegetables, beans and barley, this soup is filling, delicious and perfect for meal prep! #mealprep #lunch #soup #healthy #comfortfood #cookingfortwo #fortwo