Slow Cooker Mushroom Barley Soup is perfect for chilly fall days!
There's nothing like a good slow cooker soup on a chilly fall day and this Slow Cooker Mushroom Barley Soup is satisfying, tasty, and healthy. Healthy and good, that's a win-win for me! This recipe makes a flavorful soup and the mushrooms add a "meatiness" to it while keeping it a healthy vegetarian meal. To make it even healthier, this slow cooker soup can be made with low sodium broth, and the salt can be eliminated from the recipe. An increase in the required herbs added during the cooking process and a salt substitute added when serving, could enhance any flavor that is lost by eliminating salt. Why do things that make food taste so good - fat, sugar, and salt - have to be so bad for us? I love all three but I have to be careful and limit them to reasonable levels because of health issues I have.
So which mushrooms should we use for this Mushroom Barley Soup?
The Thompson family loves mushrooms - button, portabella, baby bella, cremini, oyster, shitake, morels - are fine with us. Usually at the market, the white button mushrooms are the most available but I like the baby bellas, also known as cremini mushrooms, for this soup. Full size portabella mushroom are much to big and don't look as nice as the baby bella mushrooms do when sliced for the soup. For this slow cooker soup recipe I have only used white button and baby bellas, so I do not know how any others would hold up under the long cooking times of a slow cooker.
Can I use wild mushrooms for this soup?
We have lots of wild mushrooms that grow on our lawn and in the woods. Friends are always telling me that this one or that one is edible but I am very reluctant to try wild ones. Picking wild mushrooms requires knowledge that I don't have and the results have the potential to be horrendous if you make a mistake. In a number of mushroom varieties, the differences between poisonous and edible are subtle. I'm sticking with the ones from the store - better safe than sorry! But if you have a dependable source of wild mushrooms by all means try them. Come back and let us know what you used n the comments section!
Do you have to cook barley before putting it in the soup?
Use pearl barley, which is processed to remove the hulls .No, you don't need to cook it first, but it is advisable to thoroughly rinse the barley before adding it to the soup. If you cook it before adding it to the soup, it will overcook and disintegrate in the soup. The barley is a neutral taste grain and will absorb the flavors of the soup. Barley contains a lot of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is an excellent source of beta-glucan, a fiber known for lowering cholesterol and blood sugar.
Which type of broth should I use for this Mushroom Barley Soup?
The choice is yours! If you are looking for a vegan soup then use vegetable broth. In the recipe below I use beef broth but you could just as easily add chicken broth and the rest of the ingredients will work nicely with the chicken broth.
Slow Cooker Mushroom Barley Soup
Hearty and delicious, this a filling vegetable soup that is healthy and easy to make.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 7 hours
- Total Time: 7 hours 10 mins
- Yield: 6-8 1x
- Category: Slow Cooker Soup
- Cuisine: American
- 9 c. beef broth
- 1 lb. mushrooms, sliced ¼ inch thick, preferably button or baby bellas
- 1 med onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
- ½ tsp. dried thyme or 1 ½ tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
- ¼ tsp. dried sage, or ¾ tsp.fresh sage
- ½ c. barley
- Add all ingredients to slow cooker and stir gently to combine.
- Cover, and cook n Low setting for 6-7 hours.