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Close up view of lentil and barley soup in a bowl.

Italian Lentil and Barley Soup with Vegetables

  • Author: Donna Poirier
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


If I had to pick my favourite nourishing soup, then it would be this delicious recipe which combines lentils, barley and buttery yellow potatoes. This soup is like a big warm hug on a chilly winter day.


  • 2 tablespoons, extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup yellow potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup brown lentils picked over (see notes below)
  • 1/3 cup pearled barley picked over (see notes below)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Pamigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated


  • Sauté.  In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrots, celery, whole garlic and kosher salt. Cook stirring occasionally until the onions are translucent. This should take about 5-8 minutes. 
  • Simmer.  Add in the chicken broth, lentils, barley, bay leaf and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer with the lid on for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir.  Discard the bay leaf and retrieve the garlic cloves (they usually float to the top).  Do not throw away the garlic but rather smush the cloves against the inside of the pot and give the whole pot a good stir.
  • Add spinach.   Add spinach to the pot to wilt, this will take 30 seconds.
  • Serve.  Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with parsley and cheese.


  • Sort through the lentils and barley to remove any small fragments of stones or particles there may be. I like to put my lentils and barley on a tea towel and give them a good inspection to ensure that there are no nasty surprises when serving.
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Canadian

Keywords: lentil and barley soup, vegetarian soup, lentils