Mushroom-Barley Soup with Cannellini Beans and Cabbage

by on February 3, 2010
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Mushroom-Barley Soup with Cannellini Beans and Cabbage

When my friend and frequent blog commenter moonwatcher recommended Anna Thomas’ new book Love Soup, I knew I had to have it. The recipes sounded so unusual and the seasonings so much to my taste (ancho chilies, smoked paprika, toasted cumin) that I was sure it would appeal to me. Unfortunately, I often have more ambition than time when it comes to reading new books, so I haven’t fully explored Love Soup yet. Instead, I opened the book to the first recipe for which I had most of the ingredients and decided to make an adaptation of it right then and there.

This recipe was originally Mushroom-Barley Soup with Cabbage, but being the kind of cook who wants to get everything–starch, vegetable, and protein–in one pot, I added cannellini beans, making it less brothy and more of a main dish. And true to my procrastinate-then-rush style of cooking, I sped up what was meant to be a slow-cooked soup by using a pinch of baking soda to brown the onions quickly and the pressure cooker to speed-cook the barley. I also changed the proportions of some of the ingredients and totally left out two, green onions and fresh parsley, that I didn’t have and which might make this soup even more delicious, but I don’t see how. In short, I loved it. The broth was rich and flavorful with just a bare hint of spice and the mushrooms and barley lent a heartiness, something to chew on. If the rest of the recipes are as delicious, this book was a great investment. Thanks for the recommendation, moonwatcher!
Mushroom-Barley Soup with Cannellini Beans and Cabbage

Mushroom-Barley Soup with Cannellini Beans and Cabbage
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
I used red cabbage, which gave this soup a wonderful, rich color, but I think any type of cabbage will do. If you don’t have hot smoked paprika, use mild and add a pinch of chipotle or cayenne to give the soup a slight kick.
Serves: 6
  • 1/4 cup pearl barley (consider using buckwheat or brown rice if you are gluten-free)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 6 ounces portobello or brown mushrooms, halved if large and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 12 ounces shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (mild)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked spicy paprika (agridulce or pimenton de la Vera)
  • 4 cups water
  • 16 ounces cannellini beans (1 can), drained
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  1. Place the barley in a pressure cooker or large soup pot, add the vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. If pressure cooking, lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure; cook under pressure for 18 minutes. Bring pressure down with a quick release method.
  2. If cooking in a regular soup pot, lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. While the barley is cooking, cook the onion in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until it softens and begins to brown; adding a pinch of baking soda will speed up the browning. Once it’s beginning to brown, add the garlic and mushrooms and a little salt and pepper, reduce the heat, cover, and cook, stirring regularly, until mushrooms soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the thyme and sherry and cook until the alcohol cooks off.
  4. Once the barley is cooked, add the mushrooms to its pot along with the sliced cabbage and paprika. If there are dried bits in the skillet, use a little of the water to deglaze it, and add that and the remainder of the 4 cups of water to the pot too. Add the cannellini beans and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, until the cabbage is tender, adding extra water if it gets too thick.
  5. Stir in the lemon juice just before serving and add more salt and pepper to taste.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/6th of recipe Calories: 170 Fat: less than 1g Carbohydrates: 33.2g Sugar: 4.4g Sodium: 638mg Fiber: 7.5g Protein: 9.2g

You will be amazed at how delicious, hearty, and satisfying this Mushroom-Barley Soup can be. Vegan and fat-free, too!

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lorna Sass February 3, 2010 at 11:32 am

Delighted you've discovered pressure cooking. If you'd like a review copy of Great Veg. Cooking Under Pressure (vegan) or Short-Cut Vegan, let me know where to send via my website. Happy cooking! Lorna Sass


2 Alexia February 3, 2010 at 12:13 pm

That does look delicious! I love soup!


3 Kim February 3, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Man, oh, man, that looks GOOD! That's the next soup in the pot, for sure!


4 Nava Atlas February 3, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I reviewed Love Soup in my last newsletter and did a Q & A with Anna. What a lovely person she is, and Love Soup is the kind of book you can take to read in bed, with all its stories and observations. I've made a few tasty soups from the book as well.


5 moonwatcher February 3, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Hey There Susan,

So glad to read this and how you found something to try in Love Soup that blossomed with your procrastinate then rush style of cooking :)–this makes me want to get it out of the library again!! This looks great, I love the idea of using red cabbage–I can see the rich color it gave the broth in your lovely photos. I willl have to explore a gluten free version sometime–mushrooms can be tricky for me, too, so when the time is right, I will try a version out and let you know how that goes. And I agree with Nava this is the kind of book you can take to read in bed–it is beautifully done in the way she mentions, and though I have not met Anna, I feel like I know her from reading them, as well as from her earlier cookbooks, which helped me to general vegetarianism so long ago.

I enjoyed reading how you adapted the cooking method, too, which needs to be done if we don't use olive oil. So thanks, again. . .the list of your newer recipes I want to try just got even longer!!



ps: Hi Lorna–I have had Short Cut Vegetarian for years–I used it so much it fell apart and I had a friend who repairs books at the library help me spiral bind it, so it is still on my shelf! Thanks for your recipes, too.

pps: And by the way, Susan, when are you going to add your OWN cookbook to the shelf along with these other wonderful ones? We'll all be happy to see that happen someday!


6 The Healthy Hostess February 3, 2010 at 1:02 pm

It looks amazing! Can't wait to try this recipe!


7 Anonymous February 3, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Amazing! How would this fare without the sherry?


8 Amber Shea February 3, 2010 at 4:11 pm

I too bought Love Soup a few weeks ago and have been reading it like a novel! I've also already tried four or five of the recipes, including the Purée of Carrot & Yam w/Citrus & Spices just last night—SO GOOD! A Vitamix is a lifesaver for those puréed ones :]


9 Heather February 3, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Yes, isn't it the perfect time of year for soup? I spent the last 2 weeks filming a whole bunch of soup recipes and surprisingly, I'm not sick of soup at all!

Thanks for the heads up on 'Love Soup'. I've been hearing great things about it. Your photo of the mushroom-barley soup makes we want to try it now.


10 Hannah February 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm

This looks so nourishing. As someone who just spent all day in arports eating over-priced and not-quite-pleasant food on account of snow-induced cancelled flights, I'd give almost anythign to have my hands cupped around this right now.



11 SusanV February 3, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Lorna, I love your books and recommend them often, especially Veg. Cooking Under Pressure. Thanks for dropping by!

Anonymous, just leave the sherry out if it's a problem for you. It just adds a touch of flavor.

And now I think I will take Nava's suggestion and take my copy of Love Soup to bed. Night all!


12 Kel February 4, 2010 at 9:07 am

You are amazing. Thank you for sharing so much love with all of us. The best part is that yesterday I ordered my own copy of Love Soup. Can't wait!


13 Anonymous February 4, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Looks great as always, Susan! Ironically, from where I'm sitting right now all I have to do is reach out and the closest book to me is Love Soup! I've made the rustic potato leek soup numerous times and the black bean and squash soup. Both yummy and can't wait to make more.

Lorna, your name looked familiar so I checked and sure enough we have your The Pressured Cook book on our shelf!

Thanks everyone!
Island Chica


14 Sera February 4, 2010 at 1:48 pm

I've been following your blog for a little while now, silent (I make a slightly simpler version of your international quinoa salad fairly regularly). But I had to say that this sounds like my perfect winter soup!!! Thanks so much



15 Kalyn February 4, 2010 at 2:18 pm

This sounds like a great soup, and I love that you used red cabbage!


16 Bianca February 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Yum! Mushroom and barley is an amazing combination.


17 Seattle DUI lawyer February 4, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Definitely looks like a hearty soup! I love it.


18 WizzyTheStick February 4, 2010 at 8:14 pm

I absolutely love your adaptations to this recipe as I also prefer a soup that is hearthy and more of a main meal than a broth.


19 Mary February 4, 2010 at 8:27 pm

The spice mixture in this soup sounds wonderfully smoky and spicy! Yum! Congratulations on your new project! You take great photos.


20 SallyT February 4, 2010 at 9:25 pm

We had this for dinner tonight. I used brown rice because we've been eating a lot of barley and I'm the only one whose a fan around here. I also used mixed dried mushrooms which added a nice chewy texture. I didn't have the spicy smoked paprika. I added a little chipotle but not enough to give it any heat. This pleased my daughter enough that she'll be taking some leftovers to school tomorrow. However, I think the spicy paprika would probably add a nice kick that my soup was missing.

All in all this is a tasty, healthy, warming soup.


21 A Daring Adventure February 5, 2010 at 10:55 am

Just wanted you to know… I can't thank you enough for this amazing website and your phenomenal recipes! Last night I made two of your recipes and they were both so good that I talked about them on my own blog:

I stole your recipes and pictures but gave you ALL the credit!

As a no-fat, no-gluten, no-sugar vegan, I am so grateful for your site! Thanks again for all your hard work, your great recipes, and your great pictures!!


22 Houston Divorce Attorney February 5, 2010 at 3:20 pm

I am LOVING the look of this soup!


23 Anonymous February 5, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Looks like another winner. I've really gotten into making soup, especially during the winter. I have a request. We are just home from a skiing CO vacation and the B&B where we stayed made a wonderful vegetarian Stromboli type item for me for breakfast. Have you ever tried something like this? I will probably experiment and try and make it myself but if you have made something similar could you let me know where to look for it?


24 SusanV February 5, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Diane, I haven't, but doing a quick search I found this:

Stromboli It looks good, and adaptable to whatever you want to include.


25 dining room table February 6, 2010 at 12:05 am

I like soups especially during cold weathers. Thanks for this. It has been a long time since I made something for myself.


26 Caren February 6, 2010 at 11:14 pm

I made this soup for a little Super Bowl party I'm having tomorrow, and it is delicious! I never would've thought to put these items and flavors together. I couldn't find the smoked spicy paprika, so I used a teaspoon of smoked paprika, and added a touch of chipotle powder for spice. I don't know how my efforts compare to yours, Susan, but I love how this soup turned out. Thank-you so much for the recipe!


27 Anonymous February 7, 2010 at 6:33 am

I made your mushroom barley soup for dinner last night and it was wonderful. Just what hubby and I needed on a cold MO evening. We enjoyed it so much we both went back for seconds! Thanks for the great recipe.


28 nannnerrr February 7, 2010 at 8:24 am

Confused about the water and broth…actually cook 1/4 cup barley in 4 cups of broth? When do you use the other 4 cups of water? I want to make this soup today but I don't get the water piece…anyone????


29 SusanV February 7, 2010 at 9:05 am

Sorry about the confusion, nannnerrr. Yes, the barley is cooked in the broth, and the water is added later, after the mushrooms. I've rewritten the instructions to make that more clear. Thanks for the question!


30 Fredrica February 7, 2010 at 9:47 am

Oh I love barley soup and need to try this one asap!


31 maryeb February 7, 2010 at 3:06 pm

I made this yesterday and it was wonderful. I didn't have any sherry so I subbed apple cider vinegar for the sherry and lemon juice.

Thanks for another great recipe.


32 beckiwithani February 7, 2010 at 8:03 pm

I made lots of little changes to this. Foremost: I added a small head of chopped kale with the cabbage, and added a liberal squirt of lemon juice at the end. Both really added to the flavor of the broth.

Thank you so much for sharing! This is one I'll make regularly. Luckily I made enough to freeze some for later!


33 Lynne February 10, 2010 at 4:37 pm

This soup looks great, and I have and simply adore the Love Soup cookbook. I can sit and read it for hours at a time. Many of the recipes are easily adapted to be vegan and low, if not no, fat. Thanks, Susan, for sharing your passion with us!


34 greenlady February 14, 2010 at 12:48 pm

This looks absolutely delicious!


35 Anonymous February 15, 2010 at 5:17 am

After reading you blog, Your blog is very useful for me .I bookmarked your blog!
Wishes your valentine day to be joyful!


36 James | cool fun games March 22, 2010 at 11:40 am

Wow seems sooo delicious.. This would go well with rice i think, did you try it with rice?

P.S. Your blog makes me hungry all the time


37 Keely September 12, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Wow. We have tried a lot of lackluster recipes around here lately and I’ve been getting discouraged. I was a little hesitant about the red cabbage, but I went for it. I’m so glad that I did! This really is a very delicious soup. It may be one of my favorite FFV recipes so far. The smoked paprika is key! Don’t skip it.


38 annasrobbie September 23, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Delicious! I couldn’t find any smoked paprika – but I can’t believe it could have made this soup any better. The leftovers keep getting better and better too.


39 Katie May 11, 2011 at 9:01 am

Another great recipe! This one was so easy (I ended up just cooking it in one pot–it worked out well except for slightly overdone beans) and the smoked paprika was creative and blended well. I didn’t have thyme on hand so I just used a little Herbs de Province instead. I made it a day in advance to fit in my schedule and ended up eating it for lunch instead!


40 Vikki February 18, 2012 at 9:35 am

Hi Susan, Greetings from the UK! Love your site and often cook things I see on here. Could you do this recipe in a crockpot (or slow cooker, as we call it over here)?


41 Susan Voisin February 18, 2012 at 10:26 am

Vikki, I think you could just put it all in the slow cooker and cook it all day on low, but I haven’t tried it that way. Please let me know what happens if you do!


42 Brook February 4, 2013 at 6:59 pm

i’m making this now and am pleased to report it is delicious!! i am gonna use great northerns because they’re what i have on hand and i am gonna add some kale to the finished product, because i can’t ever get enough of it. it’s wonderful–thank you for sharing, susan!


43 Patb February 6, 2013 at 4:03 pm

How many cups of cabbage are in 12 ounces? And 6 ounces of of mushrooms? No scale here and just have a small head of cabbage plus I never weighed the mushrooms which I bought loose. I need to know how many cups of each. I am about to make your soup which looks wonderful!


44 Lauren February 12, 2013 at 4:38 am

About how much is a serving? One cup? Two? Thanks :]


45 Susan Voisin February 12, 2013 at 8:14 am

I serving is one bowl or 1/6 of the recipe, probably somewhere between 1 1/2 and 2 cups.


46 Kristin October 17, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Could this be done in the slow cooker?


47 Christine February 5, 2014 at 8:53 pm

I just made this…DELICIOUS…SERIOUSLY..


48 Sandy October 28, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Just made this for the first time and just had to share with everyone. We added a splash of white vinegar and some more freshly ground black pepper to our bowls and we felt like we were eating Chinese Hot & Sour Soup! It was delicious! I followed the recipe without any other changes.


49 Sharon McVeigh November 4, 2014 at 4:49 pm

This soup looks similar to the one I make except I’ve never tried it in my Pressure
Cooker. I’ll have to give it a go. When I use Barley now, I soak it in water for 15-30 minutes before adding to my soup etc. I throw it in with the rest of the ingredients and it’s ready when they are. It makes such a difference to the cooking time. I just have to remember to get them soaking when I decide I’m going to use them. Thanks for all of your hard work on this site and I’m very glad to hear you are doing so much better. I feel as you do, NOTHING could ever entice me to eat Animals or their products again. Good for you. Your diet will sustain you. God Bless, I will add you to my prayers. 🙂


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