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

EatingWell Test Kitchen
Source: EatingWell Soups Special Issue April 2016

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Recipe Summary

total:
2 hrs 15 mins
Servings:
6
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • 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.

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Tips

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Facts

205 calories; protein 8.8g 18% DV; carbohydrates 36.4g 12% DV; exchange other carbs 2.5; dietary fiber 10.6g 42% DV; sugars 3.4g; fat 3.2g 5% DV; saturated fat 0.5g 3% DV; cholesterolmg; vitamin a iu 2462.6IU 49% DV; vitamin c 3.5mg 6% DV; folate 110.1mcg 28% DV; calcium 82.6mg 8% DV; iron 2.9mg 16% DV; magnesium 65.3mg 23% DV; potassium 465.9mg 13% DV; sodium 454.5mg 18% DV; thiamin 0.2mg 20% DV.

Reviews (34)

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34 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 4
  • 4 star values: 21
  • 3 star values: 4
  • 2 star values: 2
  • 1 star values: 3
Rating: 4 stars
01/18/2018
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! Read More
Rating: 4 stars
07/01/2017
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. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
12/31/2016
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. Read More
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Rating: 4 stars
12/15/2016
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). Read More
Rating: 2 stars
01/16/2016
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 Read More
Rating: 3 stars
10/14/2014
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 Read More
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Rating: 1 stars
11/13/2013
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 Read More
Rating: 4 stars
10/26/2013
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 Read More
Rating: 4 stars
02/17/2013
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! Read More
Rating: 4 stars
01/23/2013
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. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
01/13/2013
This recipe is awesome. We modified this recipe to just add some cut up chicken and turkey sausage. It was spectacular. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
01/07/2013
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 Read More
Rating: 4 stars
01/02/2013
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 Read More
Rating: 4 stars
12/01/2012
This was real good me and my family loved this I agree with the other viewers it needed more spice and I made mine in crock pot so it did need more that 2 cups of water. I added my own seasonings abodo and saizon and a drop of chipote sauce and it came out real great Read More
Rating: 2 stars
10/26/2012
Odd in slow cooker Made this according to the recipe in the slow cooker: 2 cups water and 4 cups broth. This was nowhere near enough liquid. Next time I will add canned tomatoes as other reviewers suggested. Read More
Rating: 3 stars
10/23/2012
will make again The only thing I added to make it perfect for us was some hot sauce! I may try a bit of garlic next time but otherwise it has gone in my recipe file! Pros: easy and healthy Cons: a little bland Read More
Rating: 4 stars
05/26/2012
Easy to prepare I followed the recipe and used the crock port version. It turned out like a rich stew. I reeally enjoyed it. Got better with age and made a great lunch. Pros: Great flavor Read More
Rating: 4 stars
03/09/2012
Soup done just right I found it! For medical reasons I cannot eat spicy foods although dried spices onion and garlic are okay. most soups are way too spicy for me. This was just right. It cooks nicely in the crock pot and was great for left-overs. Pros: cooks nicely no unusual ingredients wholesome great tasting Cons: For some it won't be spicy enough Read More
Rating: 3 stars
02/22/2012
This was a good soup but there are better soups on this site. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
01/29/2012
Very hearty good tasting winter stew I made this soup in the slow cooker with a few minor adjustments. First I soaked the beans in a bowl of water for about an hour before putting into the slow cooker. I also added a can of ro tel diced tomatoes and chiles for a little flavor and spice. I added the liquid as modified in the recipe for a slow cooker and really like the way this came out very hearty and thick almost like a stew. I would suggest adding more water if you like your soups a bit thinner. My husband added a little tobasco but he likes a lot more heat than I do I thought it was perfectly seasoned. Definitely a keeper! Read More
Rating: 4 stars
12/27/2011
Blank canvas This is a great winter warmer. My thanks to the previous reviewers who advised increasing the seasoning. I had a bone from a spiral ham and though it's not low sodium it makes an excellent broth. I refrigerated and skimmed the fat from the stock and made the recipe as directed except I ONLY had navy beans and barley in the pantry. I increased the amount of veggies and spices. The end result was outstanding! Pros: Lots of options; easy Cons: Long cooking time; adjust original seasonings Read More
Rating: 4 stars
11/14/2011
This soup is great! After reading the reviews I adjusted the recipe accordingly and doubled the spices added 2 t Mexican oregano chopped hot pepper (fresh or dried) and added more carrots and celery. I used 6 cups of water because I like a thick and hearty soup and call it a meal. I also added the barley in the last 1/2 hour of cooking because I like is chewy. Pros: Easy & Inexpencive Cons: Eaten up too quickly Read More
Rating: 3 stars
10/29/2011
I made this last weekend. It was ridiculously easy...takes a long time to simmer on the stove but just requires a stir every now and then. The long cooking time allows you to use dried beans which are healthy and inexpensive. The final result was creamy but lacking in flavor. I would probably double all the spices next time it was that bland and I rarely feel the need to make something more spicy. This time around I added salt and pepper and a dollop of sour cream with each bowl. I omitted the cilantro and squeeze of lime that are recommended so that might have helped too. All in all I recommend this. I'm going to make another pot this weekend because we've already gone through most of it. Oh yeah one other note...unless you keep adding water and/or broth as the recipe says this will likely cook down to less than the number of servings stated here. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
10/29/2011
I wonder about the slow cooker version of this recipe - it indicates to use 2 cups of water instead of 9 cups. Can this be incorrect? It doesn't seem like nearly enough water to soften the beans. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
10/29/2011
Made this today Been trying to cook for pre-diabetic health to lower my cholesterol and to lose weight and I wanted to find some more recipes with barley. Followed this recipe exactly except that I used black beans pinto beans and black eyed peas because that's what I had on hand. When it was done it was really bland so I started tweaking it. The other reviewer was right - double the spices. (Also right about needing to keep adding liquids throughout cooking time.) I also added red pepper flakes for a bit of kick. After that it was very tasty. Then I decided to add some cooked chicken chicken breast (boneless skinless) to make a complete meal out of it. Served it with cornbread and my husband said "this soup is FINE!" which is his way of saying it was really good. Great cold weather meal. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
10/29/2011
Great just the way it is! I find it interesting that previous reviews thought this soup was bland. I made it exactly according to the recipe and thought it was great! I made 12 gift jars of the soup mix and paired them with beer bread mixes - which I also made - and had 12 Christmas gifts for very little money. Pros: easy and inexpensive to make Cons: needs a long lead time Read More
Rating: 5 stars
10/29/2011
Great in the slow cooker with a little bit of extra prep... I was worried about the beans being cooked enough so I soaked them overnight first discarded the water in the morning and threw everything in the crock pot and let it go all day. I added more water at lunch as it was looking a little too thick. Pros: all ingredients on hand easy prep Cons: extra prep for dry beans Read More
Rating: 5 stars
10/29/2011
A definite keeper I made this in the slow cooker putting everything in the cooker before leaving for work. I used all the liquid called for in the recipe: the four cups of vegetable broth and nine cups of water. I doubled the seasoning and increased the beans to 5/8c each of three types. We also used 1/2c dried carrots making this addition about an hour before serving. The whole thing cooked for 10 hours on low. The beans were perfectly done and the seasoning was delicious. Playing up the southwestern theme I offered sliced pickled jalapenos and grated cheese as toppers. I'm adding this to my recipe box! Pros: Very nutritious and inexpensive Cons: As written a little bland and thin but easy to alter Read More
Rating: 5 stars
10/29/2011
Awesome soup! I doubled the veggies and the soup turned out great. It's healthy and great tasting. Will definitely be making this again. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
10/29/2011
Interesting texture I used what dry beans I had: black red kidney and garbanzo. No pearl barley so I used wheat berries. I put red pepper flakes in everything I cook and was generous with the pepper. Fried green pepper along with the onions. I cooke this in a slow cooker and added a can of peas for the last 2 -3 hours. They added a little sweetness and a richer sauce. I ended up with a very good soup with an interesting flavor: the mushiness of the peas the pop of wheat berries and the chewiness of the beans. This amended recipe goes into the tried and approved box. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
10/29/2011
Excellent veggie slow cooker soup My whole family including my veggie husband and my two kids liked this soup for a warm healthy February dinner. I didn't have dried beans so used canned. Based on other readers' reviews and my own slow cooker experience I first sauteed the onion with some garlic and the one teaspoon of cumin and one of chili powder written in the recipe. Then I put it in the slow cooker along with the cut up carrots a diced red pepper well-rinsed canned beans (I used about 2/3 cup of each kind) 3/4 cup barley a can of no-salt added diced tomatoes with the liquid and more cumin chili powder (about another 2 -3 teaspoons at least!) a very small amount of kosher salt dried oregano (also doubled) and pepper. I cooked in on low for 6 hours. Before serving I added another two cups of water to make it more soup like. It smelled great tasted good and best of all had lots of good protein and veggies! Pros: Healthful easy flavorful can be made in slow cooker Cons: Needs some doctoring Read More
Rating: 1 stars
10/29/2011
Not very good My husband put a good tablespoon of hot sauce in his bowl so that he could try to enjoy this soup. I felt like it tasted like cardboard. Just not good at all- no flavor! Pros: Easy Cons: Bland no flavor Read More
Rating: 4 stars
10/29/2011
these beans are yummy I bought dried beans for the first time to make this recipe. I like to play with the seasonings and adjust while it's simmering. I taste it every 30 min or so (when checking to see if I should add water) and add according to taste. I usually start out with low-sodium chicken stock so more salt than the recipe lists is always needed. I love throwing everything in a pot and leaving it to simmer for a few hours. Easily freezes and reheats too. Pros: Healthy high fiber easy Read More
Rating: 1 stars
10/29/2011
Worst Soup Ever Was extremely disappointed in this soup. It had no taste -it was like eating water with beans. I gave it as a give and even my friends said is was tasteless (how embarassing.) I usually find great delicious recipes from this magazine so I had no hesitation giving it as a gift without trying it out first...big mistake. The only thing that made the soup edible was adding tons of salsa. Did anyone in the test kitchen even try this soup before publishing it? Pros: Easy Cons: Tasteless Bland Boring Read More