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Barley (Recipe: Curried mushroom, green bean and barley soup) {vegan, gluten-free}


You did.

You know you did.

You know you made the same New Year's resolutions I made: to try to learn Portuguese, and adopt a homeless cat, and give cauliflower and opera another chance, and read The New Yorker when it arrives every week instead of letting it pile up for months on the coffee table alongside cooking magazines you've been saving for a year or more but don't remember why, and eat more barley.

Why barley?

How about dietary fiber? And selenium, and magnesium, and niacin?

If those don't turn you on, how about weight loss, regularity, heart health and lower cholesterol?

Like wheat, barley -- one of the world's healthiest foods -- is a cereal grain. Hulled barley is the most nutritious, since only the tough outer hulls are polished off, leaving the bran intact. Pearl barley is polished to remove the outer bran layer, making it a bit less nutritious, but much quicker to cook.

Long a favorite of soup makers, barley moved on to a starring role in risotto several years ago. Its nutty flavor and chewy texture also work well in pie, pancakes, beef stew, salad, lemon-barley bread or a sweet apple casserole.

Every grocery store carries pearl barley, in the aisle with beans and rice. For hulled barley, you might need to visit a Whole Foods-type or health food market. Don't be afraid to buy from the bulk bin; barley will keep for more than two years in the pantry, if stored in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.


Curried mushroom, green bean and barley soup

Serves 2; can be doubled.


1/2 cup pearl barley
2 cups vegetable broth
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp madras (medium-mild yellow) curry paste, or 1/2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
1 cup sliced mushrooms
12 green beans, sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
Water, as needed


Place barley, broth and onion in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer, partially cover the pan, and cook for 20 minutes. Add curry paste, tomato paste, cumin, salt and pepper; stir, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add green beans, and taste for seasoning, adjusting with salt and pepper as needed. If the soup is too thick, add a bit of water to thin. Serve hot, or let cool to room temperature and freeze.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Mushroom-barley soup
Fregula sarda with leeks and sausage
Vegetarian couscous with dried fruit
Bulgur with cheese and eggplant

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I had no idea barley had that many health benefits--I usually just throw it in soup for texture, but now I'll be more intentional about its consumption.

yum - that soup sounds delicious

Happy New Year Lydia! This soup looks delicious. My New Year's resolution is to cook and eat healthier in 2009.

That soup looks delicious. If I adopt one more cat I'll have one less husband. Seven (unhomeless now) cats and one dog currently reside with us.

I recently learned about barley risotto. Thanks for the additional suggestions!

I agree that barley is delicious. I've used it to make barley water (from Alton Brown's show), then eat the barley for breakfast after mixing it with yogurt, cinnamon & honey. I'll tuck this recipe away for my next time I get barley. Thank you!

I love barley. It's most unfortunate failing is to not come to mind often enough.
And this is beautiful barley soup.

Gee, I wish I could buy barley here in the jungle!!

We're wanting, and needing, to eat healthier, so I guess we need to try barley. Hopefully the husband and teenager will like it. I wonder what a good "introductory" recipe might be.

As for adopting homeless cats, well, I've done my share over the years. Ten years ago, I swear it was like there was a sign on my house that read "Sucker lives here, free room & board", and only cats could see it. You would have thought I was running a shelter or kitty hotel.

I love barley and green beans. My new years resolution is to learn to follow a recipe all the way through, this is a great one to start.

I've used barley for years, but now you've given me a reason to use it more often.

Soup looks luscious, especially with those mushrooms floating on the top. Good luck with those resolutions.

I've started to use barley more in my cooking because I like the taste. My favorite barley recipe is Butternut Squash Risotto made with barley instead of risotto. I'd love to be entered into the drawing.

To cook more at home! And to cut back on eating out.

Do all modern scales read in pounds and ounces as well as metric?

the soup is something i'd like to try. scales look good.


My New Year's resolution? To eat healthy, and lose all the pounds I gained from eating this holiday season :) Barley is indeed one healthy grain. Why don't you share your recipe at Foodista? We have launched an online food and cooking encyclopedia ala wikipedia and we'd like you to see what the foodie community have contributed. Hope to see you join!

I love, LOVE barley and don't use it enough! This looks terrific. And I would also LOVE that scale--so happy to see a contest that ships to Canada as well as the US! Thanks for putting this on, and Happy New Year!

OMG that soup looks so good! As cold as it is here in Maine I need some warm yummy food today! My resolution is to catch up on my reading this winter. I have several new books that I haven't made time tom read yet.
Thanks for the chance to win!

That soup looks great! Thanks for the tutorial on barely. I had no idea the difference in hulled and pearl. I would love to have a kitchen scale because I'm seeing more recipes these days with the grams listed for measuring them out and am interested in trying that out.

my resolution is to eat healthier in general this year. an added benefit would be to lose some weight by doing so, but it is not my main goal.

Hulled barley makes great pilaf. I saute onions, sundried tomatoes, dill, and a little garlic, then toast the barley. Add water to cover and some dried apricots and cook like rice pilaf. Yum!

Always looking for something high in fiber and low on the glycemic index.

Yay for barley and kitchen scales! I think my news year resolution will have to be to use my newly won kitchen scale on a daily basis.

I super love Barley.. Thanks for the post~

Hi Lydia--I read this post while still sleepy, and read it as "eat a homeless cat." Terrible! Thank goodness that's not what was written. :)

Although I like to have lots of variety in my menu planning, barley is one grain I seldom use. Seeing that it is so healthy I resolve to use it more often. However, I would welcome recipes to use it in.

I may have to reconsider barley...My husband loves it...I am not much of a fan.

I love barley. It's great to see it become more popular.

I never thought of adding curry powder to barley, I'll have to try it!

I didn't realize the health benefits of Barley! The recipe sounds great. The kitchen scales look fabulous!

Thank you for your blog posts. I hope I win the scale.

I had barley for the first time recently and loved it. Thanks for the new recipe I can now try.

That looks delicious!

My resolution this year is to eat healthier. To try to count the nutritional value of the foods I'm putting in my body and decide if it's worth the calories.

There is nothing better on a cold winter day then some homemade beef barley soup!! Thanks for the giveaway!

Ah yes...the loss of the weight. Needs to happen in 2009...and this soup seems like a good starting point!

I haven't tried making barley risotto yet...but definitely want to give it a try. Here's to more barley in 2009!

You know, we've had a bag of pearled barley in the drawers for a few years now. I always want to do something with barley, but I either forget or can't think of anything. Maybe I should just nail it to the front of the cupboard, so when I go to reach for a dinner plate I'll go 'oh yeah, NUTRITION.'

I actually didn't make any resolutions...well. I'm sure they're suppose to be made on new year's eve or day...i suppose my one would be to stop breaking dishes in a set.

Tasty soup!

I don't usually use barley, but since your enthusiasm is contagious, I'm going to try it!
P.S. allergic to cats!!!

I've always loved barley so eating more is not a problem at all! That soup looks tasty!

Thankfully, I looove barley, my mom used to mix it up with white rice sometimes when cooking rice, and I would call it "One eye rice" as a kid because of the slits down the middle. haha

I'd love to win a scale. that would come in handy! The soup looks tasty!

I absolutely love barley. I throw it into pilafs, soups, stews and even desserts (try barley pudding instead of rice pudding). Thanks for sharing the recipe - it looks delish!

Happy New year, Lydia. I love your resolutions. Is there a cat in your kitchen yet?
Up here on the foggy north coast of California, we are lucky to have an organic grain farmer who supplies us with several types of hulless barley. I've made many healthy and delicious recipes with it and now will add your lovely soup to my growing barley recipe list.

Barley is my favorite grain! I always keep a couple jars of it in my pantry!

This soup looks wonderful. I love barley; I'm definitely going to have to try this one. Thanks!

That recipe looks really yummy! Thank you!

your soup sounds lovely would like to try with dried mushrooms

My mother used to feed me barley soup every time I got sick, but as an adult I haven't prepared it. I'll have to try some barley recipes when I'm feeling healthy. Thanks!

My new year's resolution is to make vegetables a larger part of dinner and meat/starch a smaller part. Not too specific, just the way I like my resolutions! :)

I actually like barley, adds nice to texture to those leftover ham soups.

I'd love to weigh my food and mail! Please include me in the drawing. Thanks!!

I'm sitting here, eating a "pot pie" soup that just so happens to have barley in it, reading this blog! Imagine my surprise, eating barley while reading about it! Thanks to foodgawker.com ! Happy New Year!

Another way to enjoy a healthy soup with barley. Thanks for the new recipe and chance to win a scale. 2009!! New president, new ideas, new health plans and new life styles. Bring on the barley and heat up the soup.

I love adding barley to soups and stews. It's so hearty and filling. I make a Tomato, Chickpea, and Barley Soup probably once a week for my family - it's so good. Thanks for a different spin on things.

I'm learning to love barley - and oats in all forms and all kinds of whole grains (quinoa is a recent favorite too).

That soup looks like a fantastic variation on a standard soup for me - I make a big pot of mushroom barley every couple of weeks, but I'll definitely be trying this variation!

Barley is one of those things I've always said I should cook with but never have.

Mmmmm, barley and mushrooms are a match made in heaven.
I tried to teach Portugese to my cat, turns out she is not a fan of romance languages. Go figure.

Michael, barley water and barley tea are common drinks in Japan. I did try barley tea once, when some Japanese friends left it at my house, but I have to admit I really didn't love it. Barley soup, on the other hand, is terrific.

Carol, try introducing a small bit of pearl barley into a soup your family already loves. Odds are, they won't really notice it.

Paula, that risotto combination sounds divine.

Rupert, I don't know if all scales have both systems, but the EatSmart scales do.

Rebecca, thanks for sharing your pilaf recipe. I'm definitely going to try it. Fruits and grains together are the best!

Sheryl, if you follow the links in this post, you'll find at least half a dozen great recipes for barley. Have fun trying new things!

Christine, no cats yet, but we are making a cat door for them, so soon....

You have inspired me to make soup this week! I have some hulled barley in the freezer that fits the bill - thank you!

love barley...the nutty taste it gives to dishes is delicious.

I really didn't know much about Barley, but your post certainly showed me some of its uses-that soup looks great!

been wanting such scale ;p

barley is a healthy choice, i like barley water (barley + sugar boiled for about an hour) addition of screwpine leave during boiling add a nice aroma

Interesting blog, I'll need to keep an eye on it for some interesting grain recipes.

Just what I need right now. I have been sick with the flu for about 2 weeks and it's about
-2 below now here in Maine and a nice Barley soup would be perfect.Thanks for Sharing~!

Hah! I love your New Year's resolutions. I'll join you on the barley, but pass on the cat. I'm spooked by them! Does that make me a scaredy-cat? ;)

I just started using barley in my cooking lately and I am loving it. Your soup yells comfort to me! Lovely.

Kitchen scales would make me so happy. It would definitely help with all the international recipes that I want to make, but can't. Why are we about the only country that doesn't weigh our food????

Guess what? Eating barley IS one of my resolutions this year! I love it, but don't make it enough. I'll be checking those links. Thanks!

Beautiful shot of the soup! I'm convinced, and will add barley to my resolutions for 2009!

Actually, one of our plans for this year is to adopt 2 homeless cats!!! :) And, really, I do need to give cauliflower another chance! :)

Keeping my fingers crossed for the scale. That is one kitchen gadget I don't have...and need!

I've never cooked with barley but will have to try. This soup looks fantastic and a great way to do so.

I absolutely love your blog and checking out everybody else's pantrys :)
And now I have an overwhelming need to eat barley soup O_@

I love barley, too, and am using it with great acclaim in pilafs combined with whole wheat, white and/or brown rices, and toasted orzo here in Sao Goncalo. What can you tell me about how they make those wonderful hard, sweet, barley lollipops? Happy New Year Lydia! Your house looks beautiful in the snow. And I am especially please with your Portuguese resolution - vamos falar?

Nice post, barley has been in my kitchen for, well a long time!

My New years resolution, to keep doing what I do, but do it better ie: healthier happier with more home time.

I always have a packet of barley in my cupboard, I use it is stews everytime, strange thing is when my son pays us a visit, instead of raiding the fridge, the pearl barley goes missing!!
thanks for the reminder!

I love to enjoy ur CURRIED MUSHROOM, GREEN BEAN AND BARLEY SOUP. It gives excellent taste. I am going to try it soon and let u know its outcome. Thanks for sharing.

I love barley and often use it in soups. I'd never thought to make risotto with it. Thanks so much for the new use for an old favorite. "Kim"'s idea about a barley pudding sounds delicious. Does anyone have a recipe?

FYI - if you haven't tried barley with your red beans instead of rice...you must try it. It's wonderful!

Barley is delicious :)
Thanks for the giveaway!R

I made a banana bread recipe that encouraged grinding a mixture of grains rather than wheat. I used barley and rye. Very good and no one could tell.

That soup looks delicious.

I've been thinking alot lately about how my body is aging. Every time I see a commercial that features a well toned body, I start thinking if I dedicate & descipline myself, I could achieve a better looking body (maybe not as good as the person on tv, but better than what I have now). Well, I think this is the year. Too many have passed and I sure ain't getting younger.

Barley is one of my favorite grains too. I usually get the pearl barley and am going to look for the 'hulled' kind.

I have only ever made a casserole with barley before that I really liked. This sounds even better!

Hi Dear,,Happy New Year...ur soup luks ymmy...i hv never tried berley though I have heard a lot about it. i never saw berley in the nearby store (i stay in India), but now after reading ur post I am gonna seacrh for it

I don't really make resolutions, but maybe I should make one... to try that soup!

I love barley! Especially beef barley soup and nutty barley bake casserole.

This looks good! I'm sure I've had barely before, but I don't think I've ever used it at home.

I made your soup last night, but true to form the barley inhaled the water and the extra cup I added. I sliced some cabbage to use for the green beans, and the outcome, more like pilaf, was very satisfying. And even better for lunch today. My barley is less pearled than usual, but I've always had this water situation. I've been mixing barley with rice like Audrey's mother -- 2 cups brown rice, 1 cup barley -- much tastier than either alone. I love her 'eye' image. (only 2 tsp tomato paste?)

I often use barley in my soups! It's cheap, good for you and thickens up a soup real nice! Thanks Lydia for another great recipe and a chance to win an awesome scale!

Barley is such a delicious grain and this looks like such a good recipe. Thanks!

Charlene, I share your optimism!

Hayley, great combination of ingredients in your soup.

Vivien, I've never used screw pine (is that pandan) leaf. What does it taste like?

Susan, I believe it does.... hah!

Kerrie, excellent question. Measuring by volume is so much less precise. Of course, I'm not known for measuring, which is why I don't bake.

Peter, I have no idea how they make the lollipops, but I'll find out. The Portuguese? Yep, that's for the trip we absolutely will be taking to your part of the world.

Angel, barley and red beans is new to me, but I'm going to try it. Sounds delicious.

Susan, that often happens with barley. One day you make it with a certain amount of water, and that seems right; another time, it's too much or too little. Wonder if the dryness in the air, or the dryness in the barley itself, has something to do with it. Anyway, I think every barley recipe has to say "water as needed"! Yes, only 2 tsp of tomato paste, because I didn't want a tomato-flavored soup, but of course you can add to taste. Thanks for making the recipe!

I am just discovering all the yummy grains out there -- I will have to add this to the list!

I'm so glad I am not the only one who let the New Yorker pile up. I finally had to stop by subscription - I wasn't getting any other reading done & was too stressed about all the New Yorkers. Would love a shot at the scale & this recipe sounds awesome. I heart me some mushroom & barley soup - this will be a nice twist to an old favorite. Thansk as always for your wonderful ideas!

Barley bread is good. Using some barley flour, and barley grains.

Happy New Year to all. Peace on Earth!

Thanks for this delicious recipe Lydia. I made it for last evening's dinner.

Oh, another recipe that I'm going to have to bookmark! In the past year or so, we've gotten into soups in a big way, and this looks so tasty!

Oh my, that soup looks delish!

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