Comforting Tomato Barley Soup

It’s the last day of September, and fall has finally arrived.  In Florida, this means that the unrelenting humidity and melting heat starts to come around 9 am, instead of lingering 24 hours a day.  It means that everyone is sipping pumpkin spiced lattes and pulling out their boots, even though it’s still 80 degrees.  It means we’re excited about the possibility of cooler weather, but mostly because the holidays are coming.  I hear that in other, more northern places, the leaves are starting to color and the air is getting crisp.  Apparently it’s already snowing in Alaska!

No matter where you find yourself celebrating fall – whether it’s near a fireplace or on the beach – this Comforting Tomato Barley Soup will fit right in.  It’s gentle warmth is comforting when you’re cold, had a long day at work, or are just plain hungry.  It’s full of immune boosting garlic and tomatoes – perfect for the ever-lurking cold and flu season.
Comforting Tomato Barley Soup
Barley is one of my favorite grains.  It’s a cereal grain, a member of the grass family, and was one of the first grains to ever be cultivated.  If you grew up like I did, you’ve probably only had barley in canned soups and at restaurants.  It was never something that got cooked in my house.  A few years ago I stumbled across a bag of pearled barley at my local grocery store and decided to take a chance.  After all, if I hated it or failed at cooking it, I’d only be out $1.50.  I was delighted when I took my first bite, and I’ve worked barley into my meals as often as possible ever since.  Barley has a fair amount of protein, lots of fiber, and even a nice bit of potassium.  It’s got a wonderful texture, and will stick to your stomach for a while so you don’t end up hungry too fast.
Comforting Tomato Barley Soup
Comforting Tomato Barley Soup
This recipe is so easy.  It takes 10 minutes of prep time, then you just let that soup simmer until it’s ready while you do more important things.  Like snuggle your pet, kiss your partner, or play hide and seek with your kids.  Life is too short not to pause and enjoy every moment, even if it’s just a random Wednesday – the last day of September at the beginning of fall.

Comforting Tomato Barley Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

This barley soup is perfect for fall, when the air starts hold a slight chill and here and there a dried leaf skates by on the pavement. Share with people you love. This recipe makes 4-6 servings.


  • 2 medium yellow onions, sliced very thin (a mandolin is helpful here)
  • 1 head garlic, minced
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked pearled barley
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained


  1. Slice your onions very thin (a mandolin is helpful here). Line a large soup pot with water, and sauté the onions on high heat for 5 minutes, adding splashes of water if it gets dry. Add the minced head of garlic and saute for an additional 3 minutes.
  2. While the onions and garlic are sautéing, chop the tomatoes. Add veggie broth, tomatoes, barley, and all the spices to the pot. Bring to a boil on high heat, then immediately turn down to medium-low and cover.
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes. Then add the chickpeas, turn the heat up to medium, and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
  4. Serve with crusty toasted bread. Enjoy!

Comforting Tomato Barley Soup

Well I’ll be your shade tree in summer, if you’ll be my fire when it’s cold.
Whatever the season, we’ll keep on breathin’, cause we’ll have each other to hold”
–“Forever Like That” – Ben Rector–

2 thoughts on “Comforting Tomato Barley Soup

  1. Vanessa Wolstein

    I love this soup and can’t believe how incredibly easy it is! My son loves it too. The only change I had to make was the way the onions are cut. My son wouldn’t eat the big pieces, so I just put it in a machine to be chopped up. Thanks for the recipe!!

    • ThisVeganWhimsy

      I’m so glad you liked this recipe! Definitely mincing the onion is the right way to go if your son doesn’t like the large pieces. I like them thinly sliced because it’s almost like little noodles in the soup, but as long as the flavor is there, you can do anything you like!

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