Double lentil mushroom barley soup is satiating and warming. One bowlful is a complete meal on its own. Or serve it alongside crusty bread, crackers, or a toasted sandwich.
I always say that soup is winter’s salad. You can get so many vegetables, proteins, and grains into a single bowl along with hydrating broth.
Double lentil mushroom barley soup is the perfect example. You’ve got two kinds of lentils for protein, satiating barley, and the phytonutrients from mushrooms, collards, onions, and garlic.
Great for warming you up, and a capable antidote to any sniffles that may come your way.
I have been making this soup for well over a decade now. I started making it not long after I went vegan in 2007. Over the years, I’ve adjusted the ingredients and made many changes along the way. Check out my variation options below, and adjust to your specific needs and preferences.
Two kinds of lentils
This soup features two kinds of lentils, which behave differently in soups.
Red lentils disintegrate when they cook. (You can see how they look all on their own in my recipe for curry lentil soup.)
By using red lentils, the soup gets a thicker viscosity than by broth alone. That makes it especially full-bodied and filling.
Also included in the soup are brown lentils, which keep their shape when cooked. They add toothsome bite to the soup.
(Feeling like an extra creamy soup instead? Take a peek at this creamy vegan mushroom soup with lentils!)
Barley: A quintessential soup ingredient
When I was a kid, I lived on vegetable beef soup. (I wasn’t vegan then, obviously.)
My favorite part of the soup was the barley with its almost potato-like bite and a divot right up the middle. But outside of that canned soup, barley wasn’t something that I ever ate. (Now I also love it in split pea soup!)
When buying barley, look for pearl or pearled barley. That’s the most common form. It means the hull has been removed. Because of that, pearled barley has a quicker cooking time.
If you’d prefer to use non-pearled barley, you’ll need to adjust for a longer cooking time (about 30 minutes more or until the barley is tender).
Barley is not gluten-free. So if you need this soup to be gluten-free, replace it with brown or wild rice instead.
Get in those greens
Slow-cooked collard greens have a vaguely tinny taste that pairs so beautifully with earthy lentils.
Plus, because the collards cook for about 30 minutes, they become very soft in the broth. It’s similar to my favorite easy collard greens, but in soup form. They almost fall apart in the mouth.
If you don’t have access to collards or don’t care for them, replace them with another sturdy green like kale.
How to make it
Bring a soup pot to a medium heat with oil. Sauté onions and garlic until fragrant.
Then add sliced mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Let them soften and release their liquid.
Fully rinse the two kinds of lentils and barley in a sieve. Remove any debris.
Add vegetable broth or water + bouillon, brown and red lentils, barley, herbs de Provence, smoked salt, and pepper. Bring to a low boil.
Then lower heat, add collard greens to the soup pot, and cover with a lid. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until the brown lentils and barley have softened.
Make it your own
This soup can be adjusted in all kinds of ways, and it will still taste great.
- Use sliced leeks instead of onions
- Use French lentils du Puy instead of brown lentils
- Bring out the lower notes of the mushrooms by deglazing the soup pot with two Tablespoons of extra dry vermouth before adding broth
- Use chopped kale instead of collard greens
- Replace the barley with farro, wild rice, or brown rice
- Replace herbs de Provence with an equal amount of Italian seasoning
- Or replace herbs de Provence with ½ teaspoon dried rosemary + ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- Replace smoked salt with regular salt
What to serve with it
With vegetables, lentils, and a grain stuffed inside, this soup is a full meal on its own. Add some crackers or crusty bread, and you’re good to go. But here are some tasty ways to fill it out.
- Add a sprinkling of homemade croutons on top of the soup
- Serve with bread, extra virgin olive oil, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction for dipping
- Dunk warm bread into oil and dukkah
- Serve with crackers and olive tapenade or warmed Castelvetrano olives
- Have a lunch of soup & salad with a picnic sandwich, vegan thanksgiving leftovers sandwich, or toasted sandwich with eggy tofu & seitan bacon
- Finish out the meal with oven baked fries or lemony potatoes
How long will it keep?
Double lentil mushroom barley soup will keep in the refrigerator in a covered container for about 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove.
The barley will continue to soak up liquid. So if after reheating it looks too thick, add a splash of water until it reaches your desired consistency.
This soup can be frozen in a freezer-safe container for 3 to 6 months. I don’t recommend it, however. The collard greens get very light in texture in the cooking process. And once they are frozen and thawed again, the texture isn’t as nice.
More soups you’ll love
If you crave a hearty and warming soup, you’ll adore these options:
- Vegan tortilla soup with black beans & seitan
- Creamy gnocchi soup with sausage & kale
- Fully loaded baked potato soup
- Sweet potato peanut stew with chickpeas
- Udon noodle soup with miso tahini broth
Double lentil and mushroom barley soup
- 1 teaspoon organic canola oil
- 1 small onion chopped small
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 14 mushrooms white button or cremini, sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste + a pinch more
- 6 cups vegetable broth or 6 cups water + 1 vegetable bouillon cube
- ¾ cup brown lentils rinsed and sorted
- ½ cup red lentils rinsed and sorted
- 1/3 cup barley rinsed
- 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
- ¼ teaspoon smoked salt
- Pinch pepper
- 2 cups collard greens chopped & with ribs removed
- Bring a soup pot to a medium heat with oil. Add onions and garlic. Saute until fragrant and the onions are translucent.
- Add sliced mushrooms to pot along with a pinch of salt. Continue cooking for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally, while the mushrooms release their liquid and soften.
- Add vegetable broth (or water and bouillon cube, if using), brown and red lentils, barley, herbs de Provence, smoked salt, 1/4 teaspoon regular salt, and a pinch of pepper to pot. Bring to a medium high heat, until it has reached a low boil.
- Turn the heat to low and add chopped collard greens. Stir and cover the pot with a lid. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the barley is tender.
Content, recipe, and photos updated October 22, 2020. Originally published April 26, 2012.