Southwestern Three-Bean & Barley Soup

Southwestern Three-Bean & Barley Soup

30 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
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1/3 cup dried black beans
  • 1/3 cup dried great northern beans
  • 1/3 cup dried kidney beans
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 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, 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 hours (adding more water, 1/2 cup at a time, if necessary or desired). Season with salt.
  2. Slow-Cooker Variation: Use 2 cups water (instead of 9 cups) and combine all ingredients in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook until the beans are tender, about 4 hours on High or 7 to 8 hours on Low.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • For easy cleanup, try a slow-cooker liner. These heat-resistant, disposable liners fit neatly inside the insert and help prevent food from sticking to the bottom and sides of your slow cooker.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: about 1 1/3 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; 2463 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), Magnesium & Potassium (17% dv), Iron (16% dv).
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 2
  • Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 lean meat, 1/2 fat

Reviews 30

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!
January 23, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
This recipe was great for the crock pot. But I can't imagine seven less cups of water! I made it on the stove and then put it in the crock pot. That way I didn't have to stir it. It's still very good. I can see that reducing the liquid would make it thicker. I might try it that way next time.
January 13, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
This recipe is awesome. We modified this recipe to just add some cut up chicken and turkey sausage. It was spectacular.
January 07, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Slow Cooker makes it taste great! I cooked in in the slow cooker for seven hours on low and it turned out like a great stew. Modifications to the recipe: -make sure to only put two cups of water instead of the nine if using in the slow cooker; if you want more of a soup, maybe add more. - double the spices (oregano, chili pepper, cumin) - add a can of rotel tomatoes and diced chili delicious! Pros: spicy, flavorful, high in protein Cons: nothing
January 02, 2013
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By: mrscrazyed
Hearty Soup Followed the suggestion of others and doubled the spices. Glad I did; I think it would have been very bland if I hadn't. It took a very long time to cook on the stove. At first I couldn't believe the amount of liquid called for: 11 cups in total. But I ended up adding about an additional cup of broth before it was finished. All and all, an excellent soup, just what we needed for a cold winter day. Pros: Easy Cons: Long time on stove