Hearty and comforting, this pearl barley soup with leek and potatoes is easy to make and low in calories. Fresh thyme and rosemary make this chunky vegan barley soup extra flavourful, and you can enjoy a steaming bowl on its own or with some crusty bread for an extra satisfying meal.
Soups with pearl barley are hearty and satisfying, and I love them because they are both nutritious and flavourful. This pearl barley soup with leek and potatoes is super easy to throw together, not to mention it's low-fat and budget-friendly.
Vegan leek and potato soup is typically creamy, but my version of pearl barley soup with leek and potatoes is hearty and chunky, and it will leave you satisfied even if you decide to have it without bread.
What type of barley goes in this vegan barley soup?
Pearl barley works best in this soup because you don't have to pre-soak it. You can use pot barley if you want, but you'll need to pre-soak it for at least a couple of hours or preferably overnight.
The difference between the two types of barley is that the pearled barley had the outer husk and some of the bran removed.
If you're not into barley, you can substitute it with another type of grain, such as farro, for example, or even wild rice.
What other vegetables can you add to this soup?
What I like most about this pearl barley soup with leek and potatoes recipe is that it's highly customizable. You can add some other vegetables if you want — the more you use, the chunkier and heartier the soup will be.
Some ideas include:
- Cannelini or kidney beans
- Spinach or collard greens (instead of kale)
- Green beans
You can also play with the herbs as you wish. I like to add fresh thyme and rosemary, but you can substitute them with dry herbs. You can also use some oregano or basil, or a tablespoon of Italian mixed herbs instead.
How do you make this vegan barley soup?
Making this soup couldn't be easier. You only need one pot to make it; either a large soup pot or a Dutch oven would work.
- You start by making a quick soffrito with the onion, carrots, leek and celery.
- Then you add flavour with the garlic and herbs, add the rest of the ingredients, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- When the pearl barley and the potatoes are tender, add the cavolo nero or any greens that you may be using
- Simmer for another 2-3 minutes with the lid on until they wilt.
- Season to taste with lots of freshly ground black pepper and voila! Delicious pearl barley soup that's naturally vegan and super nutritious in under an hour.
What do you serve with pearl barley soup?
This soup is hearty and satisfying enough on its own, and I've been known to have two bowls one after another. However, if you want something on the side, your best bet is some crusty bread.
Can you freeze the soup?
Yes, you can freeze this soup in an airtight container for up to three months. It's always a good idea to portion soup before freeing because it's so much easier to thaw.
To reheat, defrost the soup in the fridge overnight and reheat it on the hob or in the microwave. The pearl barley will continue to soak some of the liquid as it cools down, so you may need to add a bit of water or stock when reheating the soup.
If you liked this pearl barley soup with leek and potatoes, you might also like some of my other quick and easy vegan soups: