Mushroom Barley Soup

Our advice: do not make this hearty soup when you’re hungry. It takes a long time to cook and tastes even better the second day! It is, however, worth the wait, since it’s about as delicious and warming as a soup can be. Serve it with a salad and some bread and you’ll have a perfect dinner. (And leftovers are great for your Thermos.)

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Hands-on time: 30   |    Total time: 60   |    Makes: 8 cups


Cutting board
Sharp knife (adult needed)
Large heavy-bottomed pot 
Measuring spoons
Measuring cup
Wooden spoon or heatproof spatula
Pot holder


1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, scrubbed or peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme (depending on how much you like thyme)
1 pound white, cremini, or button mushrooms, sliced
1⁄2 cup pearl barley
10 cup low-sodium beef, chicken or vegetable broth
1 lemon, quartered
black pepper


Wash your hands with soap and water, then gather all your equipment and ingredients and put them on a counter.

  1. Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium. When it is hot, carefully add the oil. 
  2. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and thyme and cook until tender, 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms and barley and stir well. 
  4. Add the broth, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. As soon as the soup boils, turn the heat down to low and cook, partially covered, for 2–2 1/2 hours, stirring frequently. 
  5. Now taste the soup. Does it need anything to boost the flavor? More thyme? A squeeze of lemon juice? A pinch of salt or a grinding of black pepper? Add whatever you think it needs, then serve right away or transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.

Substitute brown or wild rice for the barley.

Add 1/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, chopped tomatoes, or baby spinach 10 minutes before you’re finished cooking.