Hearty Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe (Dairy-Free) (2024)

This dairy-free mushroom barley soup has been loved by thousands of people over the past fifteen years. No exaggeration. It has wonderful depth in flavor, a comforting stew-like richness, and is generously stocked with mushrooms and barley for more satisfaction than your average soup. This recipe is also quite versatile. It’s positively delicious as is, but almost invites you to toss in leftover vegetables or herbs.

Hearty Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe (Dairy-Free) (1)

The Dairy-Free Mushroom Barley Soup that Everyone Loves

I originally featured this mushroom barley soup on my old blog, where it received dozens and dozens of raves from readers. It was so popular, that I decided to include a version of it in the 2nd edition of my flagship book,Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook. But today, I’m giving it another permanent home here on our main website, and I am including some tips and options in the FAQs below.

Where do I get Mushroom Broth? Can I Sub Vegetable Broth?

I originally created this recipe for a Pacific Foods event, so I usedPacific Foods Mushroom Broth. It’s still the brand I use today, but sometimes I substitute beef broth, which has similar flavor depth and pairs well with mushrooms and barley. I heavily prefer mushroom broth or beef broth for this mushroom barley soup, but vegetable broth would work fine in a pinch! You could even use chicken broth, but it’s not my top choice for this particular recipe.

Should I use Regular or Low Sodium Broth?

The choice is up to you. If you use low sodium broth, you might opt to add more salt when you taste test. But if you need a lower sodium soup, choose low sodium broth, and keep in mind that miso is relatively high in sodium.

What Additions do you Recommend?

I think my favorite additions are diced carrot and/or fresh herbs, like thyme, parsley, rosemary or marjoram. But sliced celery, diced parsnips, and corn can also be tasty additions. For added protein, beef or tempeh pair nicely with the flavors in this mushroom barley soup.

Can I use Other Types of Mushrooms?

You can. I’ve had readers say they used mixed mushrooms with success. Baby bellas or chopped portobello mushrooms are a seamless swap. But I also like enoki mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms in soup. Most types of mushrooms that you can buy at the grocery store will work great. But keep in mind that they can vary in flavor, texture, and chewiness.

Would you call this Soup Chunky Style or Brothy?

Definitely chunky style. Most mushroom barley soups use a paltry 1/3 cup of dried barley with 8 cups of broth, which is ridiculous in my opinion! I think the mushroom and barley are every bit as important as the broth, so they get played up more in this recipe. That’s why I often call it a stew-like soup or yes, even a chunky-style soup. But you can always add more liquid if you prefer a brothier soup.

Can I Make this Mushroom Barley Soup in a Crockpot?

Yes, I’ve made it in a slow cooker. I do prefer to saute the ingredients as directed, so a multi-cooker or Instant pot is handy, but just cook the soup on low in your crockpot for 6 to 8 hours.

Do you have a good Gluten-Free Option for this Soup?

My favorite gluten-free barley substitute for soups issorghum. It has a similar dense chewiness and cooks in nearly the same amount of time. You could substitute wild rice, brown rice, or quinoa, but you would need to adjust the cook time.

Hearty Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe (Dairy-Free) (2)

Special Diet Notes: Hearty Mushroom Barley Soup

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, optionally vegan, plant-based, and optionally vegetarian. Just be sure to choose the broth and miso that suit your dietary needs.

For soy-free dairy-free mushroom barley soup, look for a soy-free chickpea miso, or omit the miso, and add salt to taste.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Dairy-Free Mushroom Barley Soup

Prep time

Cook time

Total time

This earthy soup has a stew-like richness and delicious umami depth that hits the spot on a cool day. In terms of nutrition, it's also high in fiber, protein, and essential micronutrients, like a range of B vitamins.

Author: Alisa Fleming

Recipe type: Entree

Cuisine: American

Serves: 3 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1¼ cups chopped onion (about ½ large onion)
  • ½ cup dry pearl barley, rinsed
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 8 ounces sliced button or cremini mushrooms
  • 4 cups (1 quart) beef or mushroom broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon white miso (see Miso Note below)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ to 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, or until translucent.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the barley, garlic, and thyme, and sauté for 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the mushrooms. Add the broth, tomato paste, vinegar, miso, bay leaf, and ¼ teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for at least 1 hour, or until the barley is tender.
  4. Season to taste with more salt, if desired, and black pepper.
  5. Divide the soup between 3 bowls, to serve.
  6. Store leftover soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.


Miso Note: I use a white, light, or mild miso. It can be found refrigerated, usually near the produce section, or shelf-stable in the Asian section of grocers. It lasts a very long time, so don't worry about getting a full container. I do recommend the miso, but if you can't easily locate it, omit it. When you taste test at the end of the cooking time, you might find that a little more salt is needed since the miso does add saltiness.

Nutrition Information

Serving size:about 1½ cups Calories:232 Fat:5.9g Saturated fat:.9g Carbohydrates:37.8g Sugar:6.4g Sodium:802mg Fiber:7.7g Protein:10.5g

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Hearty Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe (Dairy-Free) (4)

Hearty Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe (Dairy-Free) (2024)
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