Bean & barley soup

Bean & barley soup

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(15 ratings)

Prep: 5 mins Cook: 1 hr


Serves 4
Low-fat, vegetarian and super-healthy, this filling one-pot lunch or dinner is packed with chickpeas, butter beans and pearl barley

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
  • Healthy
  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal488
  • fat9g
  • saturates1g
  • carbs78g
  • sugars11g
  • fibre12g
  • protein16g
  • salt1.4g
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  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 1 fennel bulb, quartered, cored and sliced
    Fennel bulb

    Fennel bulb

    Like Marmite, fennel is something that you either love or hate – its strong aniseed…

  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400g can chickpea, drained and rinsed
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • 250g pearl barley
  • 215g can butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 100g pack baby spinach leaves
  • grated parmesan, to serve



    Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It…


  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion, fennel and garlic, and cook until softened and just beginning to brown, about 10-12 mins.

  2. Mash half the chickpeas and add to the pan with the tomatoes, stock and barley. Top up with a can of water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 45 mins or until the barley is tender. Add another can of water if the liquid has significantly reduced.

  3. Add the remaining chickpeas and the butter beans to the soup. After a few mins, stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 min. Season and serve scattered with Parmesan.

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Comments, questions and tips

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18th Jun, 2020
Very nourishing and tasty soup. I disagree about there being too much barley, I just added extra water. I also added harissa paste and pesto for extra flavour and kick.
3rd Jan, 2019
Easy, cheap and filling! Way too much barley though to call it a soup (mine turned out like a risotto) so will half it next time, and agree with everyone else - needs spicing up!
SJMEOW's picture
5th Dec, 2018
This is an inexpensive, delicious and hearty meal that made enough to feed a small army! Popped the leftover in the fridge and it was yummy for lunch the next day, too! We added chorizo and some fresh chili in the early stages of cooking to spice it up a bit, although this did decrease the healthy factor I know! I have shared this recipe with everyone I know, it really is super x
Sarah Wilkins's picture
Sarah Wilkins
6th Sep, 2018
Nice recipe, although I agree with the comments, it does need a bit of pepping up. Also, 250g of barley is way too much! I've had to water mine down quite a lot to unclogg the barley and added some chilli flakes and tomato puree.
Princess Peach
11th Oct, 2015
It was nice and filling, but very bland. Disappointed. Would ground some fennel seeds to add next time to get more fennel flavour.
20th May, 2015
Made this last night and had the rest for dinner this evening, it was really easy to make and surprisingly very tasty. I didn't have butter beans so used cannellini beans instead, I ground up about a teaspoon of fennel seeds instead of using fresh fennel, chopped up some celery and I also added a couple of fresh chillies to give it a little kick but apart from those changes I followed the recipe. Very filling too so definitely don't need bread with it!
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