Vegan Lentil Barley Soup

This a soup that screams winter! Or fallish-winter, which is what we had today in southeastern Wisconsin. Our first surprise snowfall was just enough to provide a sheer blanket of white, a not-so-subtle reminder that winter will be here before we know it. And there’s nothing better than a bowlful of thick, stick-to-your-ribs vegan lentil-barley soup to warm your insides like a toasty blanket as the temperature drops.

vegan lentil-barley soup

Don’t care for lentils, you say? Give them another chance. Vegan lentil-barley soup is comforting, richly flavorful and so delicious that you’ll forget all about your disdain and become a converted lentil lover.

Lentils are full of fiber and readily take on the flavor of whatever they are cooked with. Leek, carrot, celery, and parsnip pair nicely with this powerhouse legume and three quarters of a cup of beer adds to the richly flavored broth. Barley adds another layer of substance and together with thyme, bay leaves, and good quality vegetable broth you have one stellar soup.

Organic vegetable broth makes this lentil-barley soup vegan but I’m sure the soup would be equally delicious with reduced sodium chicken broth.

I based my version of vegan lentil-barley soup on the November 2010 Lentil-Barley Soup recipe in Cooking Light, omitting celery leaves and dill, and reducing the chopped celery by half.

cup of vegan lentil barley soup

I wonder if this early snow fall is a sign that we’ll be lambasted this winter – the ardent wish of my resident outdoor enthusiasts (aka Hunky Hubby and youngest Beauty) who are anxious to tackle a few black diamonds. Normally, I’d say bring on the snow and a  part of me is still hoping for a good old fashioned winter as my Gramz used to say. Now that my commute is miles longer than a short walk down the hallway I’m not as  enthusiastic as I used to be. But the call for cold and snow is a call for soup and that’s perfectly fine by me.  Enjoy!

Vegan Lentil-Barley Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 cup sliced leek - white part only
  • 4 cups organic vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup beer
  • 1 cup chopped carrot cut into coins (roughly equivalent to 2 carrots)
  • ½ cup finely diced celery
  • ½ cup chopped parsnip (about 2 small parsnips)
  • ¼ cup pearl barley
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup dried lentils
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven and saute leek for 2 minutes.
  2. Add broth and beer and bring to a boil.
  3. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the lentils and return to a boil. (NOTE: if you are using quick cooking barley, do not add it at this time.)
  4. Cover the pot, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until carrots and parsnip are tender.
  5. Stir in lentils (NOTE: If using quick cooking barley, add it to the pot with the lentils)
  6. Cover and cook 30 minutes or until tender.
  7. Discard bay leaves.
  8. For a thick soup, place 1½ cups of broth mixture in a blender. Be sure to remove the center piece of the lid to allow steam to escape and process until smooth. (For a thinner soup, blend only ¾ - 1 cup.)
  9. Pour blended soup back into the pot, stir in salt and return to a boil.
  10. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.


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