This hearty bean and barley soup tastes like it has simmered for hours, but actually it's quite quick to throw together. Plus this recipe for healthy bean and barley soup freezes beautifully. If you have cooked barley on hand, omit the quick-cooking barley and stir in 1 1/2 cups cooked barley along with the broth in Step 2.

David Bonom
Source: EatingWell Magazine, Soup Cookbook


Recipe Summary

45 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel, garlic, and basil; cook, stirring frequently, until tender and just beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.

  • Mash 1/2 cup of the beans. Stir the mashed and whole beans, tomatoes, broth and barley into the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in cheese and pepper.


To make ahead: Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 6 months.

Nutrition Facts

333 calories; protein 13.4g; carbohydrates 54.7g; dietary fiber 11.9g; sugars 10.7g; fat 7.8g; saturated fat 1.5g; cholesterol 4.3mg; vitamin a iu 1919.5IU; vitamin c 37.3mg; folate 24.4mcg; calcium 182.6mg; iron 3.5mg; magnesium 92.4mg; potassium 832.3mg; sodium 618.7mg; thiamin 0.1mg.

Reviews (19)

Read More Reviews
19 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 9
  • 4 star values: 9
  • 3 star values: 1
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 4 stars
Very Good Snow Storm Food! Michigan like most of the Mid-West got hid with a pretty bad snow storm so I wanted a recipe I could make from things already in my pantry so I had to substitute some ingredients. This is a very hearty soup mine turned out more stew like so it was like a steoup! I did not have a fennel bulb so I used dried fennel seeds (approx 1tbs) I had regular frozen spinach in my freezer so I just used that and It turned out very nice. My husband loved this and it is keeping us warm while we wait out the storm! Pros: Very hearty easy stores well. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Best Bean Soup This soup was way over the top. I was wary of the amount of onion and garlic but don't skimp on those. The fennel really worked to add flavor too. Hubby said this is a keeper and that's a real compliment from him. I paired this with the open face tuna melts. Made a delicious meal although we agreed the soup was so filling we didn't need the sandwich. Pros: Fast and Easy Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Tasty and so easy! I was very pleasantly surprised with how this soup turned out. Based upon a few of the reviews I read I did make a few adjustments but overall it was great. I used about half a small can of tomato paste to thicken the brought. I also used chicken stock instead of veggie. And last I added some seared sliced Italian chicken sausage to boost the protein content. I was so impressed with how easy tasty and filling this recipe was. Pros: Simple quick one-pot Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Winter vegetable delight! I made this soup tonight but substituted swiss chard for the spinach because that is what I had on hand. Also did not have fire roasted tomatoes so I used regular ones. It was great and very filling. I think you could probably use Kale or any other greens you have on hand. I especially appreciate that it is low sodium. Hard to find good soup recipes that don't use tons of salt. Pros: Easy and Flexible recipe Cons: none Read More
Rating: 5 stars
One of the BEST soups I've made this year! I LOVE this soup! It's soooo flavorful and healthy. I make this soup for lunch and just add a salad and I'm good to go. Pros: Flavor very healthy Cons: None Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Easy and delicious! I was skeptical of the fennel bulb having never cooked with it before and especially since it smelled like vile black licorice. But 99% of the smell and taste cooked off - zero licorice taste. It's a nice crunchy alternative to celery. The consistency came out similar to the onion. I'm not one for a lot of prep and this soup fit the bill. All there was to chop was onion and fennel bulb. Next time I will definitely chop up the baby spinach because it clumps a bit. Between the barley and the mashed beans this was very filling as a main dish. Tasty! I got 5.5 servings - filled up five 2.5oz square Ziploc lunch containers and had a smallish bowl left over. Pros: Not much prep work keeps well freezes well Cons: makes a ton Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Quick healthy and YUMMY! I made this sup just now and it is really great! Few changes I made: I used cup or so of leftover cooked brown rice so omitted a couple steps there; added one small finely diced jalapeno (ribs and seeds removed) when I added the garlic; used one box low-sodium vegetable stock no other liquids other than the juice in the fire-roasted diced tomatoes; did not mash the beans so less liquid was necessary. One tip though - coarsely chop your spinach or it will be kinda stringy - not fun. Next time I will use chopped kale for more flavor and substance and also quinoa instead of barley for the health benefits and added protein and chew texture. LOVE IT! Pros: Quick easy very very tasty with my modifications! Cons: None! Read More
Rating: 5 stars
This is a good hearty recipe. I didn't change a thing and it was great! Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Hearty but lacking We made this soup tonight during a winter storm. It was good and very filling. However it lacked real flavor. I just wanted to slam it with some chili powder or something. I will say that I have 2 picky vegetarians in my home and they enjoyed it. Pros: Hearty great ingredients easy to make Cons: less flavorful than hoped for Read More