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Nothing feels quite as good as coming inside to a nice bowl of hearty soup. We were searching for a filling and flavorful vegetarian soup that we could create in the slow cooker, and that’s when we discovered this one: bean and barley soup.

This hearty, vegetarian soup is packed with plenty of great flavors, and as the name implies, plenty of barley to fill you up. The recipe calls for Parmesan cheese, but vegans can opt our of that to enjoy this as well– try replacing it with a drizzle of Balsamic vinegar. We also prefer to use kidney beans for this recipe, however cannellini or white beans work just as well.

Slow Cooker Bean and Barley Soup

(makes 4 servings)


  • 1 cup dried kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • black pepper to taste
  • 14oz can of whole tomatoes, with juice
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese


  1. Put 4 cups vegetable broth, 2 cups water, the beans, barley, garlic, carrots, celery, onions, zucchini, bay leaves, salt, and spices in the slow cooker.
  2. Squeeze the tomatoes through your hands over the pot to break them down, then add to the slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on high until the beans are tender and the soup is thick (about 8 hours).
  4. Before serving, add the spinach and cheese, and stir until the spinach wilts (about 5 minutes).
  5. Remove the bay leaves, and add additional salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Optionally drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil before serving.
  7. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Eating Well

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