A mix of savory mushrooms is simmered up with veggies and hearty barley in a silky cashew base to make this rich and indulgent creamy vegan mushroom soup.
I'm just going to put this out there: this soup is awesome.
This is one of those recipes that I've been making some variation of forever, tweaking and perfecting, until it finally reached that point where I had to share it. The original recipe came from my mom's collection. Back when I moved out of the house, I made a point of copying all of my mom's favorite recipes down on index cards, because that's how we shared recipes back in the old days.
Anyhow, I still have a little box of recipe cards from mom that I dive into from time to time. Mushroom barley soup was one of my favorites from that box. The original recipe was pretty simple, though it wasn't vegan. I made a few swaps and added in some soymilk to make it creamy. For a long time it was one of my favorite soups.
But as my cooking changed, the recipe evolved. Wine and fresh thyme were new additions, different types of mushrooms entered the picture (the recipe works with all kinds!), and soy milk got replaced with super creamy cashews. This last time I made it I decided to blend up some of the soup — mushrooms, veggies, barley and all. That's what put it over the top. If you're looking for something super cozy and comforting that nobody would ever guess was vegan, well here you go.
FAQ & Tips for Making the Best Creamy Vegan Mushroom Barley Soup
- Look for miso in the international foods section of your supermarket. If you can't find it there, try an Asian market or Amazon.
- Can this recipe be made gluten-free? Unfortunately, barley contains gluten, so mushroom barley soup is inherently not gluten-free. Experiment with subbing other grains like quinoa or brown rice. And also be sure to use gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce.
- I don't cook with alcohol. Is there a substitute for the wine? It adds a lot of flavor, but you can swap it out with some additional vegetable broth if you like.
- And if you do use the wine, check with Barnivore to ensure the brand you choose is vegan.
Creamy Vegan Mushroom Barley Soup
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms, I used a mix of button, cremini and shiitake, cleaned and chopped
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth, divided
- ½ cup dried pearl barley
- ½ cup raw cashews, soaked in water 4 to 8 hours and drained
- 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 ½ teaspoons white miso paste, optional but recommended
- salt and pepper to taste
Coat the bottom of a large pot with oil and place over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the mushrooms in as even a layer as possible. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes, flip and cook 5 minutes more, until most of the mushrooms are nicely browned. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to the pot and sauté until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
Add wine and thyme to the pot. Raise heat and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and allow to simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups of broth and barley to the pot. Raise heat again and bring to a boil. Lower heat and allow to simmer, uncovered, until the barley is tender, about 45 minutes.
Transfer 1 cup of the soup into a blender. Add remaining 1 cup of broth, and cashews. Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy, then return it to the pot. Add the cashew mixture to the pot, along with soy sauce and miso, if using. Stir until all ingredients are fully incorporated, making sure to fully dissolve the miso. The soup will be very thick at this point. Thin it with some water if desired. Reheat for a minute or two, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide into bowls and serve.
If you forgot to soak your cashews, just place them in a saucepan with some water and boil for about 15 minutes.