Tomato, Lentil, and Barley Soup

Tomato, Lentil, and Barley Soup

Meals based on low-fat, inexpensive ingredients like this nourishing tomato, lentil, and barley soup are always welcome. Serve this main-dish soup with fresh bread or cornbread and a colorful green salad to complete an easy meal. Leftovers of this soup are great to take to work or school in a container; and it freezes well, too. Photos by Laurie Fahrner, who writes the blog Mehitable Days. Recipe adapted from Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons. 

Serves: 8

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces raw brown or green lentils, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup raw pearl barley, rinsed (you can also use any kind of
    brown rice variety; or use quinoa for a quicker soup)
  • 2 large celery stalks, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup shredded white cabbage
  • 28-ounce can salt-free diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine, optional
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons salt-free seasoning blend such as
    Frontier or Mrs. Dash, or more, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika (or use smoked paprika for a spicier flavor)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh parsley and/or dill to taste, optional

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onions and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until both are golden.

Tomato, lentil, and barley soup in a spoon

Add all the remaining ingredients (except the salt and pepper and optional fresh herbs) plus 6 cups water. Bring to a gentle boil, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer gently for  about 45 to 55 minutes, or until the lentils, barley, and vegetables are tender. Stir occasionally and add more water if the soup becomes too thick.

Season with salt and pepper. If using fresh parsley or dill, stir in as much as you’d like. If time allows, let the soup stand off the heat for an hour or so, then heat through before serving. This soup thickens as it stands; add water as needed and adjust the seasonings.

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6 comments on “Tomato, Lentil, and Barley Soup

  1. Carolyn

    I am not a fan of canned tomatoes. Can you substitute anything else? What if you do not want to use tomatoes at all. Do you have to make up for the liquid lost? If so, how?

  2. John

    Carolyn, I would imagine you could get some fresh tomatoes and make a roux, in place of the canned tomatoes and then add some diced fresh ones along with it. Just google recipes for “tomato roux.” That should help you out.

  3. Mary

    Made this the other night and LOVED it – thanks so very much – the barley adds a nice chewyness to the stew! I had some baby portaellas in the frrig and added those and they were a nice addition

  4. Julie

    Had this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! This will be added to the weekly rotation for as long as there’s a chill in the air. I followed the directions except for adding cabbage. I didn’t have any, but it was delicious without it. On this cold, snowy day I couldn’t have wished for a better meal.

  5. Nava Post author

    I’m so glad you liked it, Julie. As another reader mentioned, they added kale instead of cabbage; ribbons of collard greens would work well, too, as would some baby spinach or arugula thrown in at the very end.

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