mushroom and barley
Easy Eats

Mushroom and Barley Stew

When people ask me about Macheesmo, one of the first questions I get asked is how I don’t weigh approximately 400 pounds. I think I’ll save my philosophy on healthy eating for another post, but generally I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables with the occasional heavier meal.

I try to post delicious and interesting things on Macheesmo so I spare you all the boring daily salad and breakfast smoothie (although I am working on a master smoothie post). That said, I wanted to share this mushroom and barley stew because not only is it really delicious, it also happens to be very healthy.

The mushrooms and barley in this recipe produce a very filling stew. In fact, I definitely don’t miss meat when I’m eating it. Everything has a great texture to it and tons of flavor. Plus barley is hugely underrated so it’s worth posting on. I think you can find it boxed in the cereal section or definitely loose in the grain section.

mushroom and barley

Barley Stew with Mushrooms

Just a moment please...

Serves 6.
Prep Time
Total Time

I put my new crock pot to use with this veggie stew heavy on barley and mushrooms. A very delicious and healthy winter meal.


1/2 large onion chopped
1 large carrot, halved and sliced
1 rib of celery, sliced
3/4 pound mushrooms, quartered or halved if they are smaller. I used a mix of baby porcini and shiitake.
1 can (15 ounce) red or black beans, drained
1 can (14 ounces) stewed tomatoes
2 Cups new potatoes, quartered
1 10 ounce bag frozen corn (I omitted this by accident but wish I hadn't.)
1/2 Cup barley (not the quick cooking variety!)
1 bay leaf
1 Teaspoon dried thyme
1 Teaspoon dried basil
1/2 Teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 Teaspoon black pepper
3 Cloves garlic
5 cups vegetable broth
Pinch of salt

Toppings (optional):

Red Pepper
Greek Yogurt
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Helpful Equipment



1) Slice up all the veggies. Keep them in pretty large chunks because they will be cooking all day. You can do all the veggies besides the potatoes the night before!

2) The morning of chop up the potatoes. Add these and all your other ingredients to a crock pot or slow cooker.

3) Add enough extra water to the slow cooker to almost cover the ingredients.

4) Cook this on low heat for 10 hours (while you’re at work!).

5) Taste the stew for salt and pepper and serve it with fun toppings. I highly recommend greek yogurt as a topping.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can definitely make this just like a normal stew. You could just add all your ingredients to a large stock pot and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until your barley is soft and you’d be all set.

But of course the great thing about doing this is a slow cooker is that it becomes a week night meal.

Preparing the Veggies

I made this on a random week night so the night before I prepped whatever veggies I could so I’d have them ready in the morning.

veggies for stew

Possibly overkill on the mushrooms

I sliced up my onion, celery, carrots, and mushrooms. You can keep them pretty large because they are going to be cooking all day. You probably don’t want to cut up your potatoes the night before or they will just turn brown. You could do it though if you kept them in water.

veggies chopped

You can do this the night before!

The Morning of…

After 15 minutes before I was leaving for work I chopped up my potatoes:


I just used half the bag.

Opened a few cans of beans and tomatoes:

Canned stuff

Yea. I realize I opened it upside down. Thanks.

Got all my spices ready:

spices for stew

Dried is just fine for this dish.

And don’t forget the stock and barley! Because I doubled the recipe when I made it I actually used about half stock and half water and I thought it was perfect.


Seriously one cup is a lot.

The Beast

Betsy and I got this fantastic slow cooker for a wedding gift (Thanks Matt and Julie!). I’ve named it “The Beast” in reference to one of my favorite Stones songs, Beast of Burden. If it isn’t obvious, I named it that because, well, it’s a beast of burden.

It does all the work for me!

It also happens to be enormous.


The Beast!

Cooking the stew

There isn’t much to say about cooking this stuff in a slow cooker. I added all my ingredients at once into The Beast and added enough extra water to almost cover the ingredients. It’s important to remember that when you’re cooking with a slow cooker, not a lot of water will escape. In fact, some of your veggies will give off water while they cook.

So it’s okay to not completely cover the veggies with water. This was what mine looked like before I left for work.

Everything in.

Barley and the Beast!

I cooked mine on low heat for 10 hours. The Beast has this nifty feature which automatically shifts to “Warm” after the programmed time is up so no matter what your dinner will be hot when you get home.

I was a bit scared to leave something hot plugged in all day while I was gone, but I shouldn’t have been. I came home to a delicious smelling apartment and this wonderful pot of stew.

stew done

Ten hours later…

I suggest tasting it for salt and pepper. Mine needed a pinch of both.

I served mine with an assortment of toppings. My favorite was Greek yogurt which gives the stew a nice creamy consistency. You could do sour cream if you wanted, but Greek yogurt is a great healthy substitute and it tastes very similar in a dish like this.

mushroom barley

I loved the Greek yogurt on this.

Betsy and I ate this for a few days and I was a little sad when it was gone. It was perfect heated up for lunch and just made us both feel very healthy! My biggest worry was that the veggies would be really soggy after cooking all day, but honestly they were perfect. They weren’t mushy at all.

Even if you don’t have a Beast of your own, this would be worth the time to make in my opinion!

20 comments on “Mushroom and Barley Stew

  1. I like your new photo captions!

    I also like that you are sharing recipes that are meat-less and healthy. We don't eat meat daily, either, but sometimes it is tough for me to put together a meal where you don't miss the meat. This is a great idea and I will give it a shot next week! I think you should continue to highlight these types of things -a lot of totally vegetarian recipes are awful (ie meat alternatives, which I hate). Coming from someone who jumped on the Meatless Mondays bandwagon last year – this year we are up to 2 days without meat – it would be a great help to hear what you do! I totally agree with you – we eat less meat now, so when we do eat it, I really embrace it. I find myself not eating some junk because it's not good enough to waste my meat portion for the day on.

    I'm with you on the eating healthy thing. I get the same question and I'm never really sure how deep to go when I explain that we eat healthy, tasty food instead of nutritionally void things that seem to be so common now. Thank you for your post today!

    1. Thanks for the thoughtful comment Rebecca! I definitely will be posting more veg focused dishes since that’s mainly what I eat these days.

      However, rest assured when I post a meat dish (next monday for example), it will be an excellent one. :)

  2. Hi! I just found your blog today! This stew looks hearty, delicious and healthy! I'm bookmarking it, as we're trying to eat more whole grains and vegetarian meals. Thanks!

  3. I just wanted to comment on the fire roasted tomatoes in this recipe. For those of you that haven’t tried them yet- go find some. Today. Yes, I am serious. They give a wonderful flavor to anything you put them in. They make the best pasta sauces and soups. I travel over thirty miles to purchase these and I buy them by the case. You must try them.

    BTW… Bring on that Master Smoothie post!

  4. This is the best kind of stew, the kind you can sink your teeth into! It looks delicious and hearty and I’m going to have to try it in my own “beast” which isn’t as big as yours:)

  5. This is my 1st time on Taste Spotting. My friend just told me about the website today. I quit eating beef and pork about 5 years ago after being on Previcid for 5 years . A book called “Eat right for your type” by Peter DiAdamo was the answer I had been looking for. I found it very to digest meat and found that type A positive group should not be eating red meat. I thought it would be dificult but not so. I eat some turkey, chicken and fish. I have not had to take anything for acid reflux. But I do regularly drink about 2 ounces of 50% Organic apple cider with honey and 50% filtered water and about 1/3 cup honey. The vinegar should be organic and un pasturized. I don’t get on blogs because I don’t know when to quit talking. I love Barley and will try this stew on Saturday. I also am on a restricted sodium diet and can’t have dark greens because of blood thinner. I am a joy to be around (HA!) but life is indeed good. I am still alive! I will revisit as I do so much vegetarian eating.
    I really came to the website looking for a recipe for Chilled Mango Soup and any other chilled soups that are someone’s favorites.

    Thanks and have a Blessed Day!

  6. There is something really satisfying about throwing a whole bunch of vegetables into a big pot – it’s homey and comforting. Your stew looks delicious, although the yoghurt is something I wouldn’t have thought of – now I want to try it to see what it tastes like!

    1. Hey Katie, you gotta try the greek yogurt. It’s tangy and delicious. Don’t use reg yogurt though… that’s be too sweet I think.

  7. I just put this in the crockpot – heading off for a hike on a beautiful Saturday. Have got friends coming over for dinner, one of which is vegan. Hope we like it because I did what you did – doubled everything. Looks like a ton of it!

  8. This looks super yum… but noone at my house really likes soups/stews but me :-(

    Do you have any other great ideas for barley besides stew?

    1. You can just eat barley for breakfast! I think it might be good in kind of a cold salad fashion… I’ll try to find a good recipe for it ;)

  9. Got this simmering away in my crock pot right now. My husband love to make big batches of healthy dishes that we can eat off of all week for lunch.

  10. I just made this this afternoon. This has to be one of the easiest recipes on Macheesmo! I made it on the stove and, like you said, just simmered it for 45 minutes or so and it turned out really well. I've never made such an easy soup, and at about 12 serving (I doubled the recipe too), the work to yield ratio is awesome! Plus, all you need is a knife, a pot, and a cutting board–just my speed.This should definitely get a quick and easy tag. =) Thanks for the recipe!

  11. I just made this today and it’s really yummy! I was looking for a recipe that fits into the Weight Watchers “Simply Filling” plan (‘cuz it’s what I’m doing to atone for a recent vacation where I ate everything in sight), and this fits the bill perfectly. I followed your recipe exactly, except I accidentally added a 15 oz. can of tomato sauce (don’t ask), but that doesn’t seem to have hurt it any. Thanks for sharing this!

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