INSTANT POT Winter Vegetable Barley Soup

Some nights it doesn’t have to be anything fancy-schmancy. We’re not talking a New Year’s Eve buffet or grandma’s Easter brunch. Just a warm, filling dinner that didn’t take forever to make or clean out the bank account. Something all in one pot; something all in one warm bowl. Maybe a little cheese or crackers on the side.  A container left for lunch the next day or to take to a neighbor–my favorite solutions for leftovers.

If that’s the case, make my IP (INSTANT POT) Winter Vegetable Barley Soup. You know Beef Barley Soup, right? But you might not be acquainted with its healthy, faster vegetarian cousin. This dish is all souped up with just about any root vegetable you’d want; I had tons of carrots so used a lot of them. You can change those out if you like with no worries — think diced sweet potatoes or butternut squash or rutabagas (neeps in the UK). Not only that, but if you make soup in the IP–scroll way down for more info on the pot itself– you can throw it together (sure, chop all the veg  except the carrots in a food processor if you need to), go for a short walk, and still have time to pour a glass of wine, chat up your favorite person or cat, put the music on, and set the table while it does its thing all by its lonesome. No “a watched pot never boils” here because there’s no watching, nothing to boil over, burn, undercook or overcook. There’s only time to breathe and then serve dinner.  I do include stovetop directions for those of you who prefer them, but remember that you’ll need to watch and stir your pot!  If you by chance decide to cook this soup in your slow cooker, one of my longtime readers advises adding several more cups of water or broth lest your barley expand and take over the pot. However you make it, do try this:


6 servings

A somewhat spicy soup, you can omit the crushed red pepper and reduce the amount of black pepper to 1/4 teaspoon for a milder meal. Choose ingredients in italics for a vegan soup.  Need Gluten-Free? Substitute brown rice for the barley.

  • 2 cups carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch slices at an angle
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small parsnips, trimmed, peeled, and diced
  • Small turnip, trimmed, peeled, and diced
  • Small fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, diced
  • 3/4 cup uncooked rinsed pearl barley (not quick-cooking)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence -can sub a mixture of dried thyme and basil
  • Bay leaf
  • 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable, mushroom, or chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine – can substitute water
  • 1 cup water
  • Chopped fresh parsley and/or 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  1. Place all ingredients in INSTANT POT except garnishes: fresh parsley and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  2. Secure lid and close the PRESSURE-RELEASE VALVE. Select MANUAL and set for 30 minutes, pressure cooking. It may take several minutes to come up to pressure before beginning to pressure cook.
  3. When cooking is completed, let sit cooling (continuing to cook slowly) to use NATURAL RELEASE to depressurize–may take 20 minutes or more. Open the PRESSURE-RELEASE VALVE using a long-handled wooden spoon and allow steam to release. Press CANCEL/WARM*. Open lid carefully.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve hot garnished with parsley and/or cheese. Whoever gets the bay leaf does the dishes.

Cook’s Notes: 183 calories per serving.  7 g fiber. 5 g protein. 35 g carbohydrates. More complete nutritional analysis at bottom of post courtesy fitness pal dot com. Need some meat? Stir in leftover cooked diced chicken, salmon, pork tenderloin, or ground beef after the soup is done. Have a sandwich on the side should you be near famished or boast a big appetite.

Stovetop Directions below include the additional ingredient of olive oil. Directions are in a different order than above.

To an 8-quart soup pot, add the 2 tablespoons olive oil; heat for 1 minute over medium flame.  Tip in the first seven ingredients (carrots – fennel), plus the herbs and spices (salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, Herbes de Provence, and bay leaf) and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes until vegetables are softening. Pour in the liquids (broth, wine, water, tomatoes). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a good simmer, and add barley. Let simmer about 45 minutes or until barley and all vegetables are tender, adding more water if soup becomes too thick as it cooks; it should remain lightly brothy.  Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot with parsley and/or cheese.

{printable recipe}


INSTANT POT Butternut and Yellow Squash Soup or



BRAND NEW TO INSTANT POT?  Read your manual and recipes well, though at the first reading of my book, I quickly decided to check out a youtube video that might make particularly the diagrams clearer. This made all the difference in the world, as my paper copy looked something like this:

You might do the same. I hesitate to recommend one as there are tons and at this point nearly a year later, I can’t remember which one I watched. You might choose the one with the most likes or just the one that appeals. (diagram courtesy Instant Pot)

Other helps just below by NYT’s Melissa Clark and, of course, on lots of blogs and websites; take your choice.



Online recipes from Instant Pot dot com

Williams-Sonoma Best Instant Pot Recipes

21 Best Instant Pot Recipes–Country Living

I Tried the Instant Pot and Didn’t Love it  — Kitchn

Here’s the pot I bought nearly 10 months ago:  Instant Pot LUX60 V3 6 Qt, 6-in-1 Multi Use…  Now that I’ve looked around more, I think I should have bought an 8-quart, though I’m not sure which model I’d choose at this point. More to come as I may switch mine out. My kids are stellar cooks and have no truck with occasionally taking home my used equipment.  If I’m making soup, a 6 quart is just not large enough. Also, you can only fill the pot 1/2 full if making something that increases in size (or froths)–such as beans. If you like to cook big, an 8-quart pot could be in your future.


I’m not at a place where I’ve used enough recipes from either these books to say they’re the best of the bunch, but they are the ones I chose and so far I haven’t wanted others. There are many available! As to the first, I would trust any book by Melissa Clark and the second one, INSTANT POT MIRACLE (bought at COSTCO for only $13.99), is authorized by Instant Pot. I do wish the latter had an indicated author(s); instead there are a few recipes attributed to bloggers, but little else. Someone, or a few someones, wrote that book!

Dinner in an Instant  by Melissa Clark

Instant Pot Miracle–Editors at Houghton-Mifflin

BLOGS:  Kalyn Denny’s blog, SLOW COOKER OR PRESSURE COOKER, for more favorite recipes for IP and slow cookers. Or check out PRESSURECOOKINGTODAY, which also contains a review of the Crock-Pot version of the electric pressure cooker.


Winter Vegetable Barley Soup Nutritional Analysis from fitness pal dot com. Note disclaimer at bottom*.

Nutrition Facts
Servings 6.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 183
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1 g 1 %
Saturated Fat 0 g 0 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 223 mg 9 %
Potassium 464 mg 13 %
Total Carbohydrate 35 g 12 %
Dietary Fiber 7 g 27 %
Sugars 8 g
Protein 5 g 9 %
Vitamin A 157 %
Vitamin C 40 %
Calcium 7 %
Iron 9 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Thanks for stopping by and spending more time at the table. I’m glad you’re here and reading about soup, which makes you healthy, wealthy and wise!  Cook on.


3 thoughts on “INSTANT POT Winter Vegetable Barley Soup

  1. How wonderful to hear that! It’s warming, filling, inexpensive, and it keeps a long time in the refrigerator. I also like it because it’s made of changeable ingredients you might easily have in your kitchen at any time. No special trip shopping to buy things. Thanks for reading 🙂 I’m glad you’re here.

  2. Pingback: 25 Scrumptious Dishes to Jump Start Your Healthy January | More Time at the Table

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