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Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe

image of 3 1-cup souper cubes trays filled with mushroom barley soup. there is a souper cubes lid on the top of one of the trays with a piece of masking tape that says "mushroom barley soup"


I'll be the first to admit I never loved mushroom barley soup. When Jake told me he was going to make it for dinner, I was less than enthused. However, I had class until 6pm and a 30+ minute drive home and wasn't going to complain about a home-cooked dinner waiting for me when I got back from school. Holy moly. The soup was beyond delicious. So much so that I asked him to recreate it once I finished through our freezer stash. 

What I love about this soup is that it uses both fresh mushrooms and dried mushrooms. We make sure to add the liquid that was used to hydrate the dried mushrooms (our favorite is porcini) as it adds so much flavor to the soup. 

Best Types of Mushroom to Use for Mushroom Barley Soup

You can use many varieties of mushrooms for Mushroom Barley Soup. We prefer to use brown varieties of mushrooms as we find they have more flavor than white mushrooms. Our favorites include:

  • Cremini mushrooms
  • Baby Bella mushrooms

Vegetarian or Vegan Adaptations for Mushroom Barley Soup

The only animal-based part of the recipe comes from the type of stock you use. Historically we used to make this with our homemade chicken stock or homemade bone broth. However, since we try to limit the amount of meat we eat per week, we often make this recipe with homemade vegetable broth.

Freezing Mushroom Barley Soup

You can freeze mushroom barley soup. Our favorite method is to pour the soup into our 1-cup Souper Cubes® trays and let it cool. Then we place the snug-fitting lid on top and label with masking tape. From there, we place the filled tray in our freezer. You can either leave the mushroom barley soup in the freezer until you're ready to heat some up or pop out the frozen cubes and place in a freezer-safe bag. The benefit of placing the frozen cubes in a freeze-safe bag is that it's often more space efficient and frees up your Souper Cubes® tray to freeze something else.

8 frozen 1-cup cubes of mushroom barley soup neatly stored in a gallon-size ziploc bag.

While we prefer to use our 1-cup trays, you can definitely use our 2-cup trays too. I often end up heating up a 1-cup portion for myself and Jake will heat up 2 1-cup cubes for himself.

Reheating Mushroom Barley Soup from Frozen

There are a lot of ways to reheat soup from frozen. If you can, we always recommend letting it thaw in the fridge for several hours as this will ultimately reduce the amount of time it takes to reheat. If you skip that step, as we often do, that's totally okay.

Here's our preferred ways to reheat frozen soup:

  • If reheating 1-cup: place in a mug and microwave for 3+ minutes until hot. Stir before eating in case any parts of the soup haven't fully defrosted.
  • If reheating 2+ cups:
    • Place frozen cubes of soup in a microwave-safe and microwave until hot, or
    • Place frozen cubes in a pot and place over medium-low heat until soup begins to melt, and a liquid covers the entire bottom of the pot. Then raise heat to medium heat and cover with lid until simmering.

Okay, let’s get started!

Gather and Prep Your Ingredients

ingredients for mushroom barley soup in various bowls on a dark wooden table 

I love that this dish has relatively few ingredients (8 total) but is packed with flavor.

Hydrate Dried Mushrooms

 4 images in a 2 by 2 grid showing how to hydrate dried mushrooms in hot water, straining them, and chopping them on a cutting board

We love the umami flavor that dried mushrooms bring. You can use any dried mushrooms, but we prefer to use porcini.

To hydrate dried mushrooms, you can either:

  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small pot, add dried mushrooms, turn off heat, cover with lid, and wait 10-15 minutes. Or,
  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, place in a bowl, add dried mushrooms, and wait 10-15 minutes.

Once you’ve let the dried mushrooms soak for 10-15 minutes, drain the mushrooms over another bowl. You’ll want to use 1-cup of the mushroom stock for the Mushroom Barley soup and rouhgly chop the hydrated mushrooms.

Sauté Onions and Carrots

diced carrots and onions in a large all-clad pot ready to be sauteed for mushroom barley soup 

Sauté Mushrooms 

sliced brown mushrooms in an all-clad pot browning in olive oil

Jake loves to remind me that it's important to cook the mushrooms in small batches so that it doesn't overcrowd the pot. I agree. It cooks faster and develops a better flavor since it can start to brown.

Sauté Garlic

sauteed brown mushrooms with 4 cloves of minced garlic in a large all-clad pot for mushroom barley soup

You only need to sauté the garlic for about 30 seconds of so, make sure it doesn’t burn.

Add Remaining Ingredients to the Pot

4 images in a 2 by 2 matrix of sauteed veggies, then a pot with 8 cups of broth (previously frozen in 1-cup souper cubes trays), barley in the thawing broth, and a finished mushroom barley soup in the all-clad pot

Serve and Enjoy!

mushroom barley soup in a gray bowl with a golden spoon, on top of a blue placemat and white cloth napkin 

Before serving, remove bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.

Freeze Leftovers to Enjoy Later

image of two 1-cup souper cubes trays filled with mushroom barley soup on top of a wooden table near a pile of mushrooms