Mushroom, black bean and barley soup

This plant-based soup, which is almost like a stew, is made with mushrooms, black beans, barley and basic vegetables. It is so good! Filled with savoury umami flavours, it is the perfect meatless winter meal in a bowl.

If you don’t eat meat, black beans will provide you with plenty of plant-protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that mushrooms have no nutritional value. Mushrooms are also nutritional wonders. Not only do they contain protein and fibre like beans, but they are also a great source of Vitamins B and D as well as the antioxidant selenium, which helps support your immune system and prevent damage to cells and tissues. With their wide selection of nutrients and vitamins, it’s a good idea to incorporate plenty of mushrooms into your diet during flu season.

I like to make this soup with homemade vegetable stock that I keep stored in my freezer. If you don’t have any on hand, a good quality store-bought kind can also do the trick.


Mushroom, black bean and barley soup

Serves 8


  • 3 tablespoon (tbsp) olive oil
  • 1 big cooking onion, diced
  • 3 big garlic cloves, grated
  • 1½ cups carrot, peeled and chopped small
  • 1½ cups celery, chopped small
  • 1 teaspoon (tsp) dry thyme (or a few sprigs of fresh thyme)
  • 1 tbsp powdered paprika
  • ½ tsp powdered cumin
  • 1 cup diced ripe tomatoes + their juices (if not ripe, use canned/jarred tomatoes)
  • 2 cups cooked black beans
  • 4 cups of water
  • 3-4 cups sliced brown mushrooms or a mix – add more if you like mushrooms! (e.g. shiitake, cremini, porcini) + 1-2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup pearled barley
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce (vegan or regular) + 1 teaspoon Marmite (for extra umami flavour!!)
  • A small dash of Tabasco hot pepper sauce
  • 2-3 cups of vegetable stock, homemade or good quality store-bought kind (add less or more for a desired thickness)
  • Mineral salt & ground pepper, to taste


In a big soup pot on stovetop, heat up the oil on medium high. Lower the heat and add the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery. Add some salt. Sauté for 3 minutes to soften (add a few tablespoons of water to prevent sticking).

Add the thyme, paprika and cumin and sauté for another minute or so until fragrant. Add the diced tomatoes with their juices and the black beans, and gently mix everything. Lower the heat. Allow to simmer uncovered on low heat for about 10 minutes, mixing from time to time.

Meanwhile, on stovetop, you can fry the mushrooms. Brush the bottom of a large skillet with a small amount of oil (about 1 teaspoon). Heat up the skillet on medium-high. Adjust heat setting and add the sliced mushrooms. Fry and toss them for about 5-6 minutes until brown. Then, drizzle some balsamic vinegar (1- 2 tbsps) all over the mushrooms and toss them constantly for a minute or so until they are evenly glazed with the balsamic. Transfer the glazed mushrooms into the soup. If you want, you can set aside some glazed mushrooms to add later as toppings or into the soup pot when it is done.

Deglaze the hot skillet with a bit of water and pour that also into the soup.

Mix the soup well and add the 4 cups of water. Raise the heat. When it starts to bubble, immediately reduce the heat, and allow to simmer gently for 20 minutes with lid half on. Mix regularly as it cooks. 

After 20 minutes of simmering, transfer 5 cups of the soup to a stand-up blender and blend until puréed and creamy. Transfer the purée back to the soup pot and mix well. 

Add 2 cups of vegetable stock and mix until integrated. Then add the ½ cup of pearled barley and let this cook/simmer with lid half on for 30-35 minutes until the barley is soft, stirring the soup occasionally. Add the Worcestershire sauce, Marmite, Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste. Adjust thickness by adding more stock.

Take off heat, cover and allow the soup (or stew) to settle for 15-20 minutes. Adjust spices or herbs and serve in bowls with crusty bread. Store leftovers in a sealed container in fridge. Tastes great the next day and the day after that…and after that! 🙂

Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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