Satisfy your craving for a comforting bowl of soup with this easy and tasty lentil and barley stew recipe. This hearty dish is packed with nutrition, has an earthy flavor and luxurious texture, and is sure to warm your soul on chilly days!
Lentils and barley are some of the healthiest staples that have been consumed by mankind for centuries. They are mentioned several times in the Bible, and recent discoveries have shown that Roman gladiators ate mostly barley and legumes. Together they provide a complete protein, which makes this lentil and barley stew a perfect vegan meal.
So get ready to enjoy a delicious bowl of lentil & barley soup!
Ingredients and substitutions
To make this lentil and barley stew, you will need:
- Red lentils: they will fall apart when cooking and create a creamy base for the stew. As a substitute, split peas or yellow lentils would work.
- Barley: provides nice little chewy bites. I recommend using hulled barley (only the inedible outer shell has been removed during processing) for extra nutrition. Most grocery stores only carry pearled barley, which is not a whole grain since the fiber-containing bran has been removed.
- Onion, carrots and celery: the classic elements of a “mirepoix”, the start of many stews that provides depth of flavor.
- Garlic: the base of the Mediterranean Diet, for added flavor and nutritional benefits
- Vegetable broth: the liquid base of your stew. If you make your own, kudos to you, otherwise opt for a low sodium one. Commercial broth can be loaded with salt. I like to use Seitenbacher dehydrated vegetable broth that is extremely convenient, all natural and tastes fantastic. It is not low sodium, but I control how much salt I add to the recipe.
- Extra-virgin olive oil: for sautéing the mirepoix.
- Dried herbs and spices: cumin, za’atar, thyme, sumac, bay leaves. I find this spice combination optimal for my taste. But za’atar and sumac are optional; if you don’t have any on hand, add a little extra thyme.
- Cilantro: for a bright citrusy flavor. Add half of it during cooking, and use the other half as garnish.
- Salt and pepper: to taste. If you are watching your sodium intake, you know what to do…!
How to make this lentil and barley soup recipe
This stew couldn’t be any easier to make.
One tip to make this recipe a breeze: keep some cooked barley on hand in your freezer! You could cook the barley in the stew, but it takes about 50 minutes for hulled barley to cook, and this can cause the vegetables to become too soft. A better option is batch cooking, which involves making a large batch, using what you need and freezing the rest in individual servings.
First, sauté the onions until they become translucent. Add carrots and celery and cook until they start to soften. Add garlic and spices and cook another minute until fragrant.
Next, add lentils, broth and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce and simmer for 25 minutes.
Finally, add the cooked barley and cook for an additional 5 minutes until it is heated through.
That’s all there is to it.
Try this cozy lentil and barley stew today. With its earthy flavor and creamy texture, it is sure to be a hit among family and friends!
Other delicious and healthy recipes to try:
Butternut squash red lentil soup
Lentil and Barley Stew
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 3 carrots diced
- 3 celery stalks diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp za'atar
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp sumac
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 2 cups red lentils
- 2 quarts low sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup cilantro divided
- 2 cups cooked barley
- Heat olive oil in a large stock pot on medium high heat. Add the onions and sauté until they become translucent.
- Add carrots and celery and cook until they start to soften.
- Add garlic and spices and cook another minute until fragrant.
- Add lentils, broth and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce and simmer for 25 minutes.
- Add the cooked barley and cook for an additional 5 minutes until it is heated through.
- Remove bay leaves before serving and garnish with fresh cilantro.