Bean & Barley Soup

Bean & Barley Soup

18 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine, Soup Cookbook

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 1½ cups cooked barley along with the broth in Step 2.

Ingredients 4 servings

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Original recipe yields 4 servings
Nutrition per serving may change if servings are adjusted.
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cored and chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini or other white beans, rinsed
  • 1 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup quick-cooking barley
  • 1 (5 ounce) package baby spinach (6 cups)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. 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.
  2. Mash ½ 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 information

  • Serving size: 2½ cups
  • Per serving: 333 calories; 8 g fat(2 g sat); 12 g fiber; 55 g carbohydrates; 13 g protein; 24 mcg folate; 4 mg cholesterol; 11 g sugars; 1,920 IU vitamin A; 37 mg vitamin C; 183 mg calcium; 3 mg iron; 619 mg sodium; 832 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (62% daily value), Vitamin A (38% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings:
  • Exchanges: 2 starch, 2½ vegetable, ½ lean protein, 1 fat

Reviews 18

November 05, 2018
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By: Barbara O'Neill Freeman
Made it exactly as described and it was delicious.
November 07, 2016
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By: I love Lemons
This is a good hearty recipe. I didn't change a thing and it was great!
April 04, 2014
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By: EatingWell User
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
February 16, 2014
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By: EatingWell User
I loved this soup. What a gem of a recipe! We accidentally got fire-roasted tomatoes with green chilis, so I made a southwestern rendition of the soup with chili powder, ancho chili powder, and cumin. I also just used an immersion blender at the end to puree part of the soup before adding the greens, and that worked great - the soup was quite thick. What a nutritional bargain for 2 1/2 cups serving size and 323 calories! I prefer kale to spinach - I think spinach tastes kind of slimy in soups, but that's just me. This recipe is going into our regular rotation. Pros: Easy to prepare, quick to pull together, filling.
February 06, 2014
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By: Connie Herm
Hearty bean soup Very good. Made a nice hearty winter stoop as it was pretty thick. I love soups and this is a keeper.
January 06, 2014
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By: EatingWell User
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.
December 02, 2013
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By: steph
Filling and Hearty! This soup was so good! Came together quick and easy and smelled wonderful while cooking. The mashed beans and Parmesan cheese thickened it up nicely, great great soup....will be making this again for the chilly winter! Pros: Handy ingredients Cons: none!
October 30, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Delicious! Loved this filling soup! Found 10-minute barley at Trader Joe's and also used Trader Joe's vegetable broth and added water to make it 6 cups. The fire roasted tomatoes are a must! Gives it a nice spicy taste. The leftovers tasted better the next day. I think next time I'll make it a day in advance so the flavors will meld.
June 16, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
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
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