Southwestern Three-Bean & Barley Soup

Southwestern Three-Bean & Barley Soup

34 Reviews
From: EatingWell Soups Special Issue April 2016

Serve this zesty bean and barley soup garnished with chopped fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime, if desired.

Ingredients 6 servings

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Original recipe yields 6 servings
Nutrition per serving may change if servings are adjusted.
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large stalk celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 9 cups water
  • 4 cups (32-ounce carton) reduced-sodium chicken broth, “no-chicken” broth or vegetable broth
  • ½ cup pearl barley
  • ⅓ cup dried black beans
  • ⅓ cup dried great northern beans
  • ⅓ cup dried kidney beans
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon salt


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add water, broth, barley, black beans, great northern beans, kidney beans, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Bring to a lively simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, 1¾ to 2½ hours (adding more water, ½ cup at a time, if necessary or desired). Season with salt.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: about 1⅓ cups
  • Per serving: 205 calories; 3 g fat(1 g sat); 11 g fiber; 36 g carbohydrates; 9 g protein; 110 mcg folate; 0 mg cholesterol; 3 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 2,463 IU vitamin A; 4 mg vitamin C; 83 mg calcium; 3 mg iron; 454 mg sodium; 466 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (49% daily value), Folate (28% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings:
  • Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 lean meat, ½ fat

Reviews 34

January 17, 2018
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By: I love Lemons
I read the reviews before I made this soup so I took the advice of the reviewers and doubled the spices and added a can of fire roasted tomatoes. It turned out great!
June 30, 2017
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By: Mary Catherine
I made this recipe as directed (except I substituted barley w/ quinoa), and my choice of broth was vegetable. As a few mentioned in the comments below which I had read before making, it indeed tasted a bit too watery for my taste using the original recipe. It was like a bland tasting enchilada broth so I doubled the spices, added some cayenne pepper, 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes, and 1 cup of organic red enchilada sauce I had on hand. It brought the soup to life. Really good recipe once I tweaked it, and will def make again.
December 30, 2016
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By: suzannay
I used a can of each of the beans so I only used the 4 cups of broth and no water. We really liked it but next time I would add 2 cups of water - we wanted a heartier soup but the way I made it was almost like chili. Spices, onion, celery and carrot were as listed here. Overall, it was really good and I will make it again.
December 14, 2016
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By: Kelly Beth
I made some variations to this soup based on what I had in my cupboard. I added a can of fire roasted tomatoes, I did 1 1/2 cup of dry black beans, one can of garbanzo beans, omitted the other two types of beans, added ground turkey, and and I tripled the spices. I also topped it with feta cheese (highly recommend this addition). After following the other recipe instructions entirely, I would say that in future I would use less water (maybe 6-7 total cups instead of 9) and more barley (perhaps one whole cup).
January 16, 2016
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By: bjbutke
Easy Vegan Crockpot Soup I used exactly the volume of liquids for the crockpot version, doubled the spices like some others said and cooked on high for about 10 hours-after soaking the beans overnight. The beans were done perfectly but carrots and celery were mush by then. The amount of liquid was perfect but I do like thick soups. Not sure how to get around the overcooked vegetables and perfect bean conundrum. Pros: really simple, uses ingredients on hand Cons: a little bland, vegetables got mushy
October 14, 2014
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By: EatingWell User
Could use extra flavor being a soup made of beans and vegetables, maybe i was hoping for more than i should have been, but there was very little flavor. however, this was a very easy fix. I added salt to taste in my bowl, and since i was eating from right out of the pot, i added a little bit of whole milk to cool the soup down. Once i had done this, the soup was divine! Pros: really healthy and light, love, love, love the texture of the barley! Cons: not a lot of flavor
November 13, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Not Crockpot Friendly This recipe may be okay cooked on the stovetop but doesn't lend itself to crockpot cooking. The barley was mushy and slimy which was a turn off. The seasoning it called for was not enough so it was very bland. I had to add a lot more just to make it edible. Pros: The recipe was undeniably healthy and easy Cons: The meal was dull and blah
October 26, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Zesty and healthy! I made this in slow cooker. I subbed drained canned beans, to expedite cooking. Added rotel tomatoes and tripled spices. I subbed some already cooked quinoa for the barley. I also used my immersion blender to liquify about two cups worth. Gave the broth a creamy texture. Still used two cups of broth.Really loved it! Pros: Easy, cheap Cons: None
February 17, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Excellent! I made this with vegetable broth and added a can of diced tomatoes. This soup is amazing. I did make a double batch and I'm really happy I did. Pros: Easy, vegetarian, hearty, healthy Cons: None!
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