Dump & go! This Slow Cooker Vegetable Barley Soup recipe couldn’t be easier. Just throw everything in the crockpot and walk away! Healthy, delicious and packed with nutrients.
This slow cooker vegetable barley soup saved me on more than one occasion. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve sat on the sidelines of my son’s soccer game on windy, blustery days. We barely noticed the weather while the game is on – cheering and living vicariously through every kick, pass and tackle will do that. But once we’re on our way home, all I can think of is a hot bowl of soup.
Truth be told, any of our favorite soup recipes would do. My son would vote for his favorite Pesto Turkey Tortellini Soup and my husband would opt for something like my Chicken and Rice Soup (Instant Pot).
But there is something really appealing about throwing all of the ingredients into a crockpot before the game and coming home to a piping hot, ALREADY COOKED batch of soup. Just serve and eat!
And as an extra bonus, this soup ranks high on the nutrition scale. It’s high in fiber and is plant based, not to mention packed with flavor thanks to the vegetables, herbs and spices.
💙 What's to love about vegetable barley soup:
▪️ SO EASY! After chopping the vegetables, just dump everything into your crockpot, along with some barley and broth. Set to LOW and let the slow cooker do its thing!
▪️ PLANT-BASED: This veggie-packed soup happens to be plant-based and vegan. It's packed with fiber (about 9 grams per servings) and nutrients.
▪️ VERSATILE: This soup is incredibly versatile. Switch up the veggies to suit your tastes or what you have on hand. Or swap the barley for another whole grain, such as brown rice or farro.
Ingredients for this vegetable barley soup recipe:
- PEARL BARLEY: Pearl barley can be found in most well-stocked grocery stores or online. If using quick cooking barley, cook it separately, then add at the end. See the Frequently Asked Questions section below for further explanation.
- BROTH: To control the sodium, I used low sodium vegetable broth in combination with water. I promise that the taste doesn’t suffer!
- SWEET POTATO: I used a red-skinned (orange flesh) sweet potato, which is sometimes labeled as red-skinned yam at the grocery store. Peel and cut it into ¾-inch pieces. Hello, Vitamin C and beta carotene!
- FROZEN GREEN BEANS: Why frozen? They don’t become overcooked in the crockpot.
- OTHER VEGETABLES: A standard mirepoix combination – onion, carrots and celery.
- SEASONING: Fresh garlic cloves, paprika, dried thyme, dried oregano, salt and pepper.
- CANNED TOMATOES: Use one (14 ounce) can of petite diced tomatoes, including the liquid.
Tools you need:
SLOW COOKER: There are plenty of crockpots available in the stores and online. I like to use a digital programmable crockpot, like this one. The 8-quart capacity means you can make plenty of soup!
See recipe card below for full ingredients list & recipe directions.
SWEET POTATO: Swap regular potatoes for the sweet potato. I like small yellow or red-skinned potatoes, but into quarters.
BARLEY: Try a different whole grain. Farro provides the same chewy texture as barley. Brown rice and quinoa are good gluten-free options.
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How to make crockpot vegetable soup:
You have to love when recipe instructions are only three steps long! Making vegetable soup in a crockpot is truly one of the easiest recipes you’ll ever prepare. There is a bit of chopping, but from there it’s all hands-off prep time.
PREP THE VEGGIES: Start by chopping the onion, carrots, celery and sweet potato, and mincing the garlic.
COMBINE AND COOK: Dump everything (except for the parsley) into the slow cooker. Vegetables, canned tomatoes, barley, broth and seasoning. Set the slow cooker to LOW (a nice gentle simmer), cover and cook for 8 hours, or until the barley is tender.
GARNISH AND SERVE: Last steps…stir in the parsley, taste for seasoning (and adjust as needed) and serve it up!
What to serve with this vegetable barley soup recipe:
If I’m eating this soup for a light lunch, I’ll typically serve it alongside some whole grain crackers and hummus for an added boost of protein.
You could also add beans (still vegan) shredded rotisserie chicken (not vegan) to make a more hearty dinnertime meal for your family.
Soup is meant for dipping. Try a slice of Mushroom Rosemary Olive Oil Bread or Indian Spiced Chickpea Flatbread.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Pearl barley take significantly longer to cook than quick-cooking barley, so one is not easily swapped for the other in most recipes. If you only have the quick cooking variety, cook it separately in a pot, drain it, then stir it in the finished soup.
Unfortunately, it isn’t. Brown rice or quinoa would be good substitutes in this recipe. If you prefer to add gluten-free pasta, turn the slow cooker heat to HIGH in the last 30 minutes of cooking and stir in the pasta.
The beauty of a crockpot vegetable soup like this is that you can throw almost any vegetable into the mix, substituting your favorites for any of the ingredients listed. Use what's already in your fridge or freezer - frozen vegetables are great for slow cooker soups - so that you don't have to make a separate trip to the store.
I used sweet potato, carrots, onion, frozen green beans, celery and canned tomatoes, along with a scoop of pearl barley. If some of those ingredients don’t float your boat, feel free to make substitutions, such as broccoli, green peas, cabbage or zucchini.
Nothing makes me happier than when soup freezes well. It means we can eat our fill, then have enough for future meals. This recipe makes a ton of soup (11 cups) and is ideal for freezing.
Allow the soup to cool, then transfer it to a freezer safe airtight container (or multiple container, depending on how much soup is leftover), such as these glass ones. Freeze the soup for up to 3 months.
When ready to eat, defrost the soup in the refrigerator, then gently reheat it on the stove or in the microwave.
Vegetable Barley Soup Recipe (Slow Cooker)
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 2 carrots cut into ½-circles
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 1 medium sweet potato peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 ½ cups frozen green beans
- ¾ cup pearl barley
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¾ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 14 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
- 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- ¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley
- Combine all of the ingredients, except for the parsley, in a large (6-quart) slow cooker.
- Cook on LOW until the barley is tender, about 8 hours.
- Stir in the parsley. Serve.
This post originally published on January 6, 2016 and updated on October 20, 2022.
Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Hello, made your soup yesterday and it is very good. I added a couple of white potatoes (had to use them up)and a can of kidney beans. I had some for brunch today, was even better. It thickened up a bit but then loosened up once it was microwaved and hot. Will make again.
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! It's such a great soup for using up those extra veggies hanging around your kitchen.
I followed the recipe wasn’t a fan of it because of the vegetable broth. Now when I make it I use either sautéed beef or chicken and the beef or chicken broth instead of vegetable broth. Make it in the instant pot. Set for 20 minutes everyone likes it
Hi Mary, I'm glad you found an adjustment that works for you. Not all vegetable broths are created equal. You might want to try a couple of different brands - or, even better, make a big batch from scratch. 🙂
I realized when i got home that i forgot to add the garlic and green beans 🙁 Would it be ok to defrost the green beans and throw them in, and add the garlic i forgot to put in??? Im so annoyed at myself.
Hi Anthony, not to worry - that's an easy fix! Yes, go ahead and defrost the green beans, then stir them in. For the garlic, I recommend sautéing it with a little olive oil in a small nonstick skillet for a minute before adding to the soup. I hope you enjoy it!
I just made this. I can't wait to eat on Sunday after long day working outside. Thank for the recipe . I'm going to make this again .
Absolutely delicious! This might be one of the best soups I ever tried, and it's packed with flavour. I made it before bed, and my house smelled so good in the morning! It is a little on the salty side when using bouillon cubes for the stock, so I might reduce the added salt to 1/4 tsp next time.
Very tasty soup! Made it a few times. Thank you for the recipe
Excellent soup, almost stew like. Flavor was spot on and the dish was great for a cold evening. Plenty enough for two lunches too! Thanks so much!
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for commenting, Tracey.
I plan to make this tomorrow. I have golden beets and was thinking of adding them and eliminating the sweet potato (I don't like them). What do you think of the golden beet flavor being added? I usually roast them, but I think they should cook just as well in the soup. Your thoughts?
To be honest, I've never tried beets in a slow cooker soup, but the flavors would probably work.
This was wonderful! A real keeper - easy, forgivable, and delicious!
I only have smoked paprika can I still use it?
Smoked paprika has a fairly bold flavor, so will change the overall flavor of the soup a bit, but it should still work.
I used smoked paprika and it turned out great!
Yum! Family loved it - didn't have any sweet potatoes but used zucchini from the garden instead.
My husband declared "best Barley Soup EVER!"
Can I use a stock pot and cook on the stove top?
Absolutely! I suggest sauteing the onion, carrot and onion in some olive oil, then adding the garlic and herbs/spices. Add the water, broth and tomatoes, bring to a boil, then add the barley. It will take 45 to 55 minutes for the barley to become tender at a simmer. I suggest adding the green beans in the last 10 minutes so they don't overcook.
This looks delicious! Do you think it would all freeze well, if I combined all ingredients in a gallon size freezer bag, then thawed and cooked at a later date?
Hi Miranda - Honestly, I've never tried that. Let me know if you give it a shot.
This recipe is perfect. I made it for my elderly grandfather who has difficulty chewing food and is in need of nutrition and fiber. He loved it and he is so picky too. I portioned it and froze several servings for him. I'm making another batch today just for me.
Thank you so much for this delicious recipe. I made the soup today and love it. I think next time I will add some beans at the end as you suggested. I'll definitely make this again!
I made this today and it was easy as promised. I chopped my vegetables last night so I could just dump it in this morning. The soup is very good. I’ll definitely make this again, maybe adding some different vegetables like zucchini. Thanks for this great recipe.
That's great to hear, Kathy! Switching up the veggies is a great idea - I often just use what I have on hand.
We made this for dinner last night and really enjoyed it. It was so easy to make! Thank you for the recipe.
Hi Amy, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. The mixture should be simmering, so be sure to check that and adjust the temperature, if needed. The barley should take 50-60 minutes to become tender. The chicken should be sauteed and seasoned with salt and pepper first, then added in at the end. I hope you enjoy it!
Do I include the juice in the canned tomatoes in the recipe or do I drain it? Please let me know!
I'm making this recipe today! 🙂
Hi Chantal, you do indeed include the juices in the can. I hope you enjoy the soup!
Thank you Dara for a new heathy twist on an old favourite! I just made a huge pot of beef barley soup, which we all love. Mine had finely chopped leftover roast beef, regular white potatoes, carrots celery, onions, a jar of canned tomatoes and lastly frozen peas and corn. It was made on the stove on a snowy day this week for supper and enjoyed for a ready made lunch after. I have a hard time estimating the amount of barley per broth, so I cook the barley separate with a garlic clove, I can then add as much barley as I want as we enjoy the broth in the soup as well. I can’t wait to make your version with sweet potatoes I would not have thought of it or without meat. My carnivorous husband may grumble where’s the beef? But after tasting it I’m sure he will
agree it’s just as tasty. I am
A long time cook who doesn’t need to follow recipes much but I love reading yours for hints on how to make healthier versions without losing flavour. I’ve learned so much from you, especially bean recipes like bean dip. I had not cooked much with beans but they are now a regular part of our diet.
Thank you Dara.
If I don't have 8 hours, can I cook it on high for 4 hours? Or even the stove top?
Hi Sara, I haven't tried it on high in the slow cooker, so am hesitant to give you a time for that. However, you can definitely cook it on the stovetop. It typically takes 45 to 50 minutes for barley to become tender when simmered (after bringing to a boil).