Miso-Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe (2024)

By Yasmin Fahr

Published Feb. 16, 2024

Miso-Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe (1)

Total Time
1 hour
Prep Time
15 minutes
Cook Time
45 minutes
Read community notes

This hearty vegan dish uses miso and soy to add a tremendous amount of depth and flavor to a relatively quick, one-pot mushroom barley soup. Quartering the mushrooms allows them to retain bite, but you can thinly slice them if you’d prefer everything to be soft and tender. Resist the urge to salt heavily during the bulk of the cooking, as the miso and soy — both sodium-heavy ingredients — will be added at the end to bring the soup together. This is a soup that will thicken, so add more water or broth when reheating. It’s as accommodating as it is comforting: You can empty your pantry or fridge by swapping the barley for farro and spinach for chopped bok choy or other greens.

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Yield:4 servings

  • 2tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ pounds cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1bunch scallions, trimmed, light green and white parts thinly sliced
  • ¼ to ½teaspoon crushed red pepper, depending on heat preference
  • 4cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1cup pearl barley
  • 1tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon white miso
  • 1tablespoon soy sauce (or more as needed)
  • 5ounces baby spinach (about 5 packed cups)
  • 1lime (optional), halved

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)

297 calories; 9 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 5 grams monounsaturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 48 grams carbohydrates; 11 grams dietary fiber; 5 grams sugars; 12 grams protein; 1206 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Miso-Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and season lightly with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms shrink down and release their juices, 6 to 7 minutes.

  2. Stir in the scallions and crushed red pepper and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.

  3. Step


    Pour in the vegetable broth, 2 cups of water and the barley. Raise the heat to bring the liquid to a boil, then lower it to maintain a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 30 minutes.

  4. Step


    During the last 5 minutes of cooking, stir in the miso and soy sauce. (Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to seek out any miso clumps, flattening them against the side of the pot to help dissolve.)

  5. Step


    Add the spinach in batches, adding a handful and stirring in until wilted. Taste and season with more soy sauce or salt as needed. Squeeze in half a lime, if using, and cut the rest into wedges for serving. Finish with some black pepper and serve.



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Cooking Notes


To avoid the haphazard "seek out any miso clumps" step, put the miso and soy sauce into a soup bowl, add a ladle or so of the hot stock, and mix until it's all dissolved. Then pour it all back into the pot and stir until blended. From my experience, trying to find that tablespoon or so of miso in a pot takes much longer than blending it in a smaller bowl!


Easy and delicious. Next time I’ll add tofu cubes for protein.

Ann O’Neill

There’s a technique I’ve seen in every single cooking video from Japan that involves dissolving miso in a liquid - it easily solves the clump issue. Use a small whisk to grab the miso you need for the recipe then partially immerse a small sieve/strainer into the broth. Whisk the miso INSIDE the sieve. As it dissolves it goes right through into the broth/liquid. No hunting for undissolved pieces that need whisking. Same trick works for Better Than Bullion which has a similar thick texture.

Andrew Pinkowitz

The ingredients list should be comprehensive so the total volume of liquid is shown. 2 cups of water changes the size of the pot required, it should be an ingredient. IMHO


Barley has more protein per 100g than tofu!


In Step 4 it's a lot easier to dissolve the miso by putting a cup of the soup liquid in a small bowl and dissolving the miso with a small whisk and then returning to the simmering soup. The Japanese say don't boil the miso as it kills many of the nutrients, so add at the end. 1 1/2 lb of mushrooms seems a lot for this size recipe. We shall see.


This was very good and not too fussy to make on a weekday. I used sh*take mushrooms as I didn't have crimini mushrooms. And I used vegetable bullion. I made a side of roasted brussel sprouts topped with pan toasted thin sliced almonds. Healthy and tasty.


I am not vegan, but I'm not averse to trying vegan recipes. This was really satisfying. I used 2/3 cremini and 1/3 shiitake based on the suggestion of another reviewer. I would definitely make this again.


Delightful - certainly not my mom’s mushroom and barley soup. Used 1# white mushrooms, 8 oz baby bella and decided to slice them. Perfect soup for a February weekend!


So simple yet delicious! Instant family favorite. Next time I’ll add a little extra barley to make it more stew like (& double the recipe - there were no leftovers!).

Jennie in San Francisco

I just tried another mushroom-barley soup recipe last week that was tasty but lacked that umami savoriness. I thought the next time I make it I would add anchovies, didn't think about miso. Will try this recip next time! A tip for incorporating miso into soups; take a small wire mesh strainer and place the miso in the strainer and dunk it in the soup. Take your spoon and muddle it through the mesh. Japanese cooks use a strainer specifically designed for this that has a deep and narrow basket.


Wonderful as written but I'm wondering how it would be using broth made from dried mushrooms and throwing in those re-hydrated mushrooms into the soup. Plan on using this the day you make it or needing to add quite a bit of water the next day. The barley really soaks the liquid up overnight. The lime adds a nice touch.


Yum! I made this per the recipe with the exception of using Knorr mushroom broth cubes in place of the veggie broth. The depth of flavor is amazing, especially when you consider how simple the seasoning is. Miso is the secret ingredient to everything umami, IMO. Thx to the cook who suggested blending the miso with the soy - you'll never get the miso un-gobbed any other way. A little protein would be good, maybe some tofu next time.


Tasty, easy to prepare. Agree silken or other tofu would make it a hearty meal


This was even better the next day. I used red miso because it's what I had on hand, sliced the mushrooms and skipped the soy sauce because it was delicious without it.


I swapped out spinach for Cavolo Nero, crushed chilli for fresh red chilli, barley for quinoa, the mushrooms in the recipe for Chestnut mushrooms and it is still absolutely delicious. I guessed the amounts and just used what I already had. This soup is one of the most lovely soups ever, it's a flexible, fabulous, recipe. When the basics of a recipe are sound, you can mess around with it and still get a hit. Love this!


I used chicken broth for more flavor


Made one change, used half vegetable broth and half mushroom broth. Served it with some firm tofu for added protein. Was very flavorful and so healthy.


I love this, and have added sautéed sausage


Easy to make for this newbie chef, but I found it a little bland. May add extra miso paste next time and additional crushed red pepper, just to give it a little extra flavor. Love how healthy and easy it is - the perfect guilt-free lunch!


I’ve always liked mushroom and barley soup. Maybe because I used red miso, which is what I had, but the flavor was overpowering and really awful.

mary c.

I followed the basic instructions but then added more vegetables that I had on hand, plus I substituted kale from the garden for spinach. I also added a can of cannellini beans. It was delicious although next I will add a half cup more of barley!


We liked this a lot! Used collards instead of spinach because that’s what I had at hand, letting it cook with the soup for a while, and added silken tofu to make it more filling. Followed and appreciated advice here on dissolving miso - it took some stirring so I’m glad i did.

Cliff Preefer

Added marmite to enhance mushrooms meaty tone, 1/2 barley & 1/2 kasha, & substituted kale for spinach. Very nice especially because it’s so easy to prepare. Preferred without lime as it dominated flavor profile.

mary ann patterson

This recipe intrigued me but I didn’t have all of the ingredients hand. I subbed farro for the barley, frozen kale for the spinach, and chicken broth for the veg broth. It was delicious and definitely benefitted from the big squeeze of lime at the end. I look forward to making it again but with the ingredients as listed.


Nicely easy to put together after working all day, quick, minimal chopping, and very satisfying result. I soaked my barley during the day in cold water. I've made a habit of soaking grains like farro and barley prior to cooking, after advised to do so by an organic grains and bean vendor at a farmers market, with good results.


Very tasty. Added tofu and some bacon. Upped the barley a bit. Half quantity made 3 portions


Leeks instead of spinach. Feta and toasted pine nuts instead of miso/soy sauce.


Leeks instead of spinach. Feta & pine nuts instead of miso/soy sauce.


This was delicious. The white miso gives it richness and umami. I added a half pound of firm tofu cut into small cubes and a couple of carrots cut into matchsticks to add nutrition and color, putting them in about 15 minutes after the barley started to boil.

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Miso-Mushroom Barley Soup Recipe (2024)
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