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10 Best Substitutes for Barley in Soup

Finding the right substitute for barley in soup can be a challenge.

Whether you’re looking for a healthier option or just something different, there are plenty of alternatives out there.

In this article, I’ll discuss the 10 best substitutes for barley in soup that can help you create a delicious and nutritious meal.

substitute for barley in soup

From quinoa to lentils, each of these options offers a unique flavor and texture that can give your soup a whole new dimension.

Read on to learn more!

1. Quinoa


Quinoa has a nice texture that is similar to barley, and it also adds a mild, nutty flavor to your soup.

I like that quinoa is a complete protein, so it’s a great way to add a healthy boost of protein to your soup.

The only downside to quinoa is that it can be a bit expensive compared to barley.

So, if you are looking to save a few dollars, you might want to look for a different alternative.

My pro tip for using quinoa in soup is to pre-cook it before adding it to your soup.

This will help the quinoa to hold its shape and texture better.

That way, you won’t have to worry about it losing its shape and becoming mushy.

2. Wild Rice

Wild rice

When it comes to substituting barley in soup, I often like to use wild rice.

It has a similar mild, nutty flavor that works well in soups, and it has a delightful chewy texture.

The downside to wild rice is that it takes a bit longer to cook than barley, so you’ll need to plan ahead and give it more time.

Additionally, wild rice can be more expensive than barley.

One pro tip for using wild rice in soup is to cook the rice separately before adding it to the soup.

This will give you better control over the texture and make sure it doesn’t turn out too soft or mushy.

3. Bulgur Wheat

Bulgur Wheat

Bulgur wheat has a similar texture and nutty flavor, so it won’t drastically change the flavor of the soup.

I like that it also adds a bit of extra fiber and protein to the soup.

The downside of bulgur wheat is that it takes a bit longer to cook than barley, so you’ll need to plan ahead and factor that into the cooking time.

Additionally, it’s not gluten-free so if you’re looking for a gluten-free option this isn’t the best choice.

A pro tip: Make sure to rinse it off before adding it to the soup.

This will help remove any excess starch, preventing an overly thick and gluey soup.

4. Oats


I like that oats absorb the flavor of whatever broth or liquid you’re using, so you can still get a great taste.

The downside is that they don’t hold up as well as barley, so you may want to add them towards the end of the cooking process.

As a pro tip, if you’re looking for a nuttier flavor, try toasting the oats before adding them to the soup!

5. Millet


I like millet because it’s a light and fluffy grain, similar in texture to barley, and it can help to thicken soups.

It also has a mild flavor, so it won’t overpower the other flavors in your soup.

The only downside is that millet takes a bit longer to cook than barley, so you’ll need to plan accordingly.

My pro tip is to soak the millet before you add it to your soup, as this will help to reduce the cooking time.

Doing this also helps to create a more creamy texture, which can be great for soups.

Overall, millet is an excellent substitute for barley and can help to create a delicious soup!

6. Farro

Source: The Spruce Eats / Lindsay Kreighbaum

Farro is a nutritious, whole grain that is high in fiber and protein.

It also has a nutty, chewy texture that adds a pleasant texture to soups.

Additionally, farro can replace barley in almost any recipe, so it is a great substitution if you are out of barley or looking for a healthier alternative.

To substitute farro for barley in soup, you should rinse the farro in a strainer before adding it to the soup.

This helps to remove any debris or other particles that may have been present in the farro.

Then, add the farro to the soup when it is just beginning to simmer. Allow the farro to cook for 30-40 minutes or until it is tender.

Once the farro is cooked through, it can be added to the soup along with any other ingredients.

7. Split Peas

Split Peas

Split peas are a great substitute because they provide the same thick, creamy consistency as barley does, but are much easier to cook.

Split peas have a mild, earthy flavor and are high in fiber, protein, and iron.

They also cook much faster than barley, so you can make a soup in less time. Split peas are a great way to add nutrition, flavor, and texture to your soup.

8. Lentils


Lentils are high in protein and fiber, which can help you feel fuller for longer.

They also contain essential vitamins and minerals. They are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates which can help to fuel your body throughout the day. Lentils also cook quickly, making them an ideal option for soup.

They can help to thicken the soup and add a nutty flavor as well. Lentils are also an affordable ingredient, so you can add them to your meal without breaking the bank.

9. Kamut


Kamut is a type of ancient grain that is considered a good substitute for barley. It is a whole grain and is a good source of protein, fiber, and minerals such as iron and magnesium.

It also has a nutty flavor that works well in soups. Kamut is high in antioxidants and has a lower glycemic index than other grains, which is beneficial for people with diabetes. It also has a chewy texture that adds interest to soups.

Overall, Kamut makes a great substitute for barley in soup and can be a nutritious and flavorful addition to any recipe.

10. Rye Berries

Rye Berries

I know it sounds strange, but rye berries actually make a great substitute for barley in your recipe! Rye berries are a whole grain similar to barley, but with a nuttier flavor.

They are high in fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates, and are a great source of essential vitamins and minerals.

Rye berries are also easier to digest than barley and have a lower glycemic index, making them a healthier choice.

They take a little longer to cook than barley, but their chewier texture makes them perfect for soups and stews.

Plus, the unique flavor they add makes them a great addition to any dish.


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10 Best Substitutes for Barley in Soup

10 Best Substitutes for Barley in Soup

This article will teach you the 10 best substitutes for barley in soup. From grains like quinoa and farro to potatoes and other vegetables, you'll learn the best ingredients to make your soup healthy, flavorful and hearty. We'll also provide helpful tips on how to best prepare and cook each substitute, as well as how to adjust your soup recipes to fit the new ingredients. With these substitutes, you'll be able to create tasty and nutritious soup recipes that are sure to be a hit!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 360 kcal


  • Quinoa
  • Wild Rice
  • Bulgur Wheat
  • Oats
  • Millet
  • Farro
  • Split Peas
  • Lentils
  • Kamuta
  • Rye Berries


  • Pick any of these substitutes for your soup.
  • Prepare the rest of your meal.
  • Serve in no time!
Keyword substitutes for barley in soup
CEO at Happy Muncher | | Website | + posts

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.