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Minestrone Soup with Barley

by Tansy Boggon
Minestrone Soup with Barley

A simple vegan and pasta-free minestrone soup, packed with fibre-dense barley and nutritious vegetables for a satisfying and nourishing complete meal, starter or side dish.

Minestrone Soup with Barley

Minestrone Soup is a great way to use up veggies that are losing their crispness. You can mix and match the veggies you combine in this recipe to use up what you have or to include veggies you and your family like best.

Minestrone Soup with Barley

Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Keyword: vegan, vegetarian
Author: Tansy Boggon


  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg powder optional
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder optional
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli powder optional
  • 3 cups vegetables, diced e.g. carrot, celery, sweet potato, green beans etc.
  • 3 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 400 g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup barley
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 400 g can Borlotti or Cannellini Beans drained
  • Fresh parsley or basil, finely chopped to serve (optional)
  • Parmesan or Vegan Parmesan 'Cheese' to serve (optional)


  • Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.
  • Then add onion and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until onion is soft. Add the nutmeg, turmeric and chilli powders, and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add all remaining ingredients, except the beans, into the saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
  • Then add the beans and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the barley is cooked. When cooked, barley will triple in volume but will remain a nutty, chewy texture.
  • Ladle soup into serving bowls.
  • Sprinkle with finely chopped fresh parsley, basil or shaved Parmesan. Serve with fresh crusty bread. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy.

Make it vegan

The above recipe is vegan, apart from the optional sprinkle of parmesan cheese

If you eat vegan or dairy-free, you may like to try this soup topped with vegan parmesan ‘cheese’.

Why pasta-free?

I’m not opposed to pasta at all!

However, I love the nutty texture of barley, which works well in this recipe. Furthermore, barley is higher in fibre than pasta. Thus, it is a delicious way to increase dietary fibre.

However, if you’d prefer pasta to barley, feel free to make it with pasta. In this case, cook all the ingredients, except the pasta for 15 minutes before. Then add the pasta and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until softened.

Is it gluten-free?

Barley is not a gluten-free grain. Therefore, if you wish to make the recipe gluten-free you may want to switch the barley for gluten-free pasta. In this case, cook all the ingredients for 10-15 minutes, before adding the pasta to avoid overcooking. You may need to experiment with the type of gluten-free pasta you use. I really like pulse pasta as it generally retains its shape better than other gluten-free pasta.

Have you tried making vegan pasta-free minestrone soup, yourself?

Let me know in the comments below.

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