7 Healthy Barley Recipes for a Nourishing Meal

Welcome to my recipe article, where I’ll be sharing a classic comfort food recipe with a healthy twist – Barley & Mushrooms. As a nutritionist and food blogger, my mission is to help you create delicious and nutritious meals that will nourish your body and mind.

While this particular recipe is not gluten-free, it features barley – one of my favorite grains that is chock-full of health benefits. Barley contains three different types of fiber, making it a great choice for digestion and gut health. It also has a low glycemic index, which means that it won’t cause drastic spikes and drops in blood sugar levels.

In this hearty soup, chewy barley is simmered with fresh mushrooms in a savory broth made with chicken or vegetable stock, onions, and garlic powder for depth of flavor. This recipe is the perfect healthy comfort food for any night of the week, especially during the colder months. So grab a bowl and let’s get cooking!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Barley & Mushrooms -- Not Gluten Free
Barley & Mushrooms — Not Gluten Free

Are you in search of healthy comfort food that’s full of flavor? Do you want to try new grains and experiment with different textures and aromas? Then, my friend, you are in the right place!

What if I told you that a simple yet nutritious barley and mushroom recipe could do wonders for your taste buds and your health? Allow me to introduce you to this deli-style soup that can make a fantastic starter or light meal.

First of all, let’s talk about the star of the show: barley. This ancient grain, part of the three grains (wheat and oats are the others), contains soluble fiber that is excellent for reducing cholesterol levels and promoting good digestion. Moreover, barley has a low glycemic index, meaning it doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels as other refined grains do. In other words, barley is a superfood that deserves more attention in any kitchen.

Now, let’s move on to the mushrooms. The fresh and earthy aroma of mushrooms can enhance any dish, and their health benefits match their delicious taste. Mushrooms are an excellent source of B vitamins, copper, and selenium, which help boost your immune system, protect against inflammation, and support healthy bones.

When these two ingredients come together in this soup recipe, magic happens! The flavors complement each other so well that you’ll have to resist going back for seconds (or thirds).

If you are not following a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease or other conditions, you can fully enjoy this recipe with pearl barley. Still, if gluten is a concern, substitute it for gluten-free grains like quinoa or brown rice to achieve similar results.

One last thing. Did I mention how easy this recipe is to make? You can cook it on a stovetop or pressure cooker for even quicker results. Top it off with some sour cream or croutons for an extra creamy touch.

In conclusion, once you try this barley and mushroom soup recipe, you’ll never want to have a simple tomato soup again. It’s time to upgrade your soup game and add this recipe to your go-to meals for a healthy, comforting dish packed with flavor and nutrition.

Ingredient List

 Hearty and wholesome barley mixed with earthy mushrooms
Hearty and wholesome barley mixed with earthy mushrooms

Here is a list of ingredients you need to prepare for this delicious Barley & Mushrooms recipe:

  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder (or minced garlic)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

These are the basic ingredients that you can use to make a simple yet flavorful barley pilaf or risotto. However, you can customize the recipe by adding other herbs, veggies or meat substitutions. In case you are following a gluten-free diet, you can swap out the pearl barley with other grains gluten-free such as quinoa, millet or rice. Don’t hesitate to experiment and make your own version of this healthy comfort food.

The Recipe How-To

 A perfect dish for mushroom lovers
A perfect dish for mushroom lovers

Step 1: Prepare the Barley

I start by bringing 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once the water boils, I add 2 cups of pearl barley to the saucepan and stir well. I wait for the water to return to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the barley is tender, which usually takes around 30 minutes.

Step 2: Cook the Mushrooms

While my barley is cooking, I move on to cook the mushrooms. I begin by heating 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Then I add 8 ounces of sliced fresh mushrooms and sauté them for about 6-8 minutes or until they are tender and all their juices have evaporated.

Step 3: Combine with Broth and Onion

Next, I add 1 medium onion (diced) into the skillet with the cooked mushrooms and sauté them together for around 5 minutes until they become soft and translucent.

After that, I add 2 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you prefer) into the skillet with the onion and mushroom, and bring it to a boil.

Step 4: Add in Barley

Once boiling, I reduce the heat to low again and add my cooked barley into my mushroom broth mixture; then stir everything together until everything is evenly distributed.

I continue simmering everything for an additional 10-15 minutes to ensure that all ingredients come together, stirring occasionally until it reaches your desired consistency.

After that, simply taste it; add any seasoning like garlic powder, salt or black pepper according to your preference. If you want your soup thicker, you can always add more barley or continue cooking for some time. Conversely, if you want it thinner or lighter, add more broth or water as required.

And that’s it! My mushroom barley soup is ready to be served.

Substitutions and Variations

 Creamy and savory with a nutty flavor
Creamy and savory with a nutty flavor

The beauty of cooking is that there’s always room for experimentation. If you’re looking to switch things up or make this Barley & Mushroom recipe work with your dietary restrictions, I’ve got you covered.

Firstly, if you’re following a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease or gluten intolerance, simply swap out the barley for a gluten-free grain such as rice or quinoa. Alternatively, you may also use pearled barley which has been processed to remove the outer layer, commonly used in mushroom barley soups.

Next up, if you prefer a vegetarian-friendly version, go ahead and replace chicken broth with vegetable broth for a similar flavor profile. This would be perfect for an earthy Mushroom Barley Pilaf or Creamy Mushroom Risotto as well.

If you love deli-style soups but want to make it at home without any deli meat, give my mock mushroom barley recipe a try! Simply add garlic powder and onion to the classic barley soup ingredients and voila – a simple tomato broth-based soup that’s reminiscent of your favorite deli.

You may also add more vegetables such as carrots and celery that would make it more colorful and nutritious or adding sour cream for a creamy mushroom and barley soup.

Lastly but not less important, pearl barley can be used for salads or baked dishes instead of a side dish. The Barley Salad is perfect topped with a creamy mushroom dressing or serve baked Barley Pilaf alongside your favourite protein. The possibilities are endless with Barley & Mushrooms recipe!

Serving and Pairing

 Textures and flavors to fall in love with
Textures and flavors to fall in love with

If you’re looking for a hearty and filling dish to serve up for dinner, then look no further than this delicious barley and mushroom recipe. The earthy flavors of the mushrooms and nutty taste of barley come together so perfectly in this recipe that it’s sure to become a staple favorite in your household.

To serve, ladle generous portions into deep bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream or some chopped scallions for an added burst of freshness. Alternatively, you can also add some grated Parmesan cheese or croutons to make it even more decadent.

This barley and mushroom recipe pairs well with a fruity red wine like a Pinot Noir or Grenache. If you prefer white wine or don’t drink alcohol, a cold glass of apple cider would be a great match as well.

If you’re looking to turn this dish into a full meal, consider serving it with some crusty bread or a side salad. This versatile dish can also be enjoyed as a side to roasted chicken or as part of a vegetarian spread.

No matter how you decide to serve up this healthy comfort food, one thing is for certain: your taste buds will certainly thank you!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 The perfect combination of ingredients
The perfect combination of ingredients

This barley and mushroom recipe is a great one to make ahead of time for a quick, healthy and comforting meal. To store this dish, simply let it cool down to room temperature and then store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. If you think you’ll need more time, store it in the freezer for up to three months.

When reheating the barley and mushrooms, add a splash of broth or water to the container and reheat the mixture on medium heat over the stove. You can also reheat it in the microwave or oven by putting it in a microwave-safe or oven-safe container and using medium heat.

A handy tip for reheating this recipe is to keep some extra chicken or vegetable broth on hand. This can help you avoid drying out the mixture while reheating and adds extra flavor.

Tips for Perfect Results

 A dish that's packed with umami goodness
A dish that’s packed with umami goodness

As someone who has been cooking for a while, I know how small tips and tricks can make a big difference in the final product. Here are some tips to guarantee that your barley and mushroom recipe comes out just the way you want it to.

1. Toasting the barley before cooking adds an earthy and nutty flavor to the dish. Simply pour the barley into a dry, hot pan and cook over medium heat until it is golden brown.

2. It’s important to use good quality broth in this recipe as it forms the base of the dish. Chicken or vegetable broth imparts an intense savory flavor that cannot be achieved with water or low-quality broths.

3. Fresh mushrooms add an extra level of depth to this dish but if they’re not readily available, dried mushrooms will do just fine. Soaking the dried mushrooms beforehand in hot water will allow them to rehydrate and release their umami-rich flavor into the broth.

4. When cooking the mushrooms, use a non-stick pan and cook on high heat until all their moisture has evaporated, ensuring that they are properly cooked before being added to the barley mixture.

5. The garlic powder adds a lot of flavor without adding chunks of garlic. However, feel free to add fresh garlic cloves if you prefer them.

6. For those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, make sure you use certified gluten-free barley. Omitting pearl barley completely and using quinoa or rice instead can also be a great alternative.

7. If preparing ahead of time or having leftovers, store them separately from sour cream or any other dairy-based toppings, as these tend not to mix well with reheated soup.

By following these simple yet effective tips, you will create a hearty meal that will comfort your body and soul!


As a nutritionist, I understand that you might have some questions or concerns about the ingredients or cooking process for this mushroom and barley recipe. That’s why I’ve compiled a few frequently asked questions to put your mind at ease and ensure that you can follow the recipe with confidence. Let’s dive into some of the most common concerns that arise when cooking this dish.

Is barley gluten-free or not?

It’s important to note that if you are following a gluten-free diet, you should avoid consuming barley, wheat, and rye as they contain the protein gluten, which can trigger an autoimmune response in those with celiac disease.

What is a gluten-free substitute for barley?

As a nutritionist and food blogger, I believe in the power of using alternative grains to diversify diets and incorporate nutritious elements into meals. Some examples of these grains include buckwheat, amaranth, corn, millet, quinoa, teff, wild rice, and sorghum. Each grain brings a unique set of benefits to the table and can easily be used as substitutes for traditional wheat-based products. So, in this article, I’ll be sharing tips and instructions for preparing healthy, organic, gluten-free, and dairy-free recipes using these diverse grains.

Does pearl barley have gluten?

When it comes to gluten, pearl barley is a safe option for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. This is because barley does not naturally have gluten in it like wheat or rye grains do. In fact, pearl barley contains proteins such as hordein and secalin, but gluten is completely absent from it.

Which grains are gluten-free?

When it comes to maintaining a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, there are plenty of alternative ingredients to choose from. Amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, flax and millet are just a few examples of grains that don’t contain gluten. In addition, gluten-free flours like rice, soy, corn, potato and bean flours can be used as substitutes for wheat flour in various recipes. If you’re a fan of corn-based dishes, look for cornmeal, grits, and polenta labeled gluten-free. And let’s not forget hominy, which is made from corn and is also gluten-free. By incorporating these ingredients into your cooking, you can create a variety of delicious and healthy meals.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this barley and mushroom recipe is not only a delicious and satisfying comfort food but also holds great nutritional value. I hope this recipe article has inspired you to embrace the benefits of healthy grains like barley and experiment with different preparations for your meals. Remember, this recipe allows for numerous substitutions and variations, making it easier to tailor it to your dietary preferences and restrictions. So, whether you try this recipe as a soup, pilaf, risotto or salad, don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun with it! Just keep in mind the key ingredients and tips for perfect results. And if you have any lingering questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to check out the FAQ section or reach out for further advice. Enjoy your healthy comfort food, and may it bring warmth to your soul as well as your stomach!

Barley & Mushrooms -- Not Gluten Free

Barley & Mushrooms -- Not Gluten Free Recipe

Weight Watchers Core Recipe. For Flex Plan, it is 2 points per 1/2 cup serving. This can be made with vegetarian broth for a vegan recipe. This recipe is NOT gluten free, barley contains gluten.
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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Non-Gluten Free
Servings 8 1/2 cup
Calories 116.8 kcal


  • 1 lb fresh mushrooms
  • 1 onion
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth or 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


  • Cut mushrooms into quarters; saute in skillet sprayed with nonstick coating. Remove from skillet & set aside.
  • Next, coarsely chop onion and saute in skillet sprayed with nonstick coating. Remove from skillet & set aside.
  • Lightly brown barley in skillet sprayed with nonstick coating. Remove from skillet & set aside.
  • Bring broth to a boil then transfer into crock pot. Add mushrooms, onion, barley & seasonings. Cook on low 1-2 hours stirring occasionally.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 200gCalories: 116.8kcalCarbohydrates: 20.6gProtein: 6.9gFat: 1.3gSaturated Fat: 0.3gSodium: 339.9mgFiber: 4.8gSugar: 2g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Beginner Cook, Easy, Free Of..., Grains, Onions, Vegetable
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