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


Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

2 hrs 15 mins


Ingredient Checklist


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.



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

Nutrition Facts

205 calories; protein 8.8g; carbohydrates 36.4g; dietary fiber 10.6g; sugars 3.4g; fat 3.2g; saturated fat 0.5g; vitamin a iu 2462.6IU; vitamin c 3.5mg; folate 110.1mcg; calcium 82.6mg; iron 2.9mg; magnesium 65.3mg; potassium 465.9mg; sodium 454.5mg; thiamin 0.2mg.

Reviews (21)

Read More Reviews
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
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: 1 stars
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
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: 1 stars
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
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: 5 stars
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: 4 stars
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
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
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