vegan soups

When cold and flu season is in full swing, or if it’s simply a bone-chilling winter day, sometimes you need a big pot of comforting soup and you need it now! One of the most soothing bowlfuls ever is mushroom barley soup, and this shortcut vegan version takes at least an hour off the process. Case in point, our Classic Mushroom Barley Soup, which is about an hour and a half or more, from prep to finish. There’s not a lot of work time, so when you have more leisure to cook soup, give it a try!

This fast version shaves off the time by using quick-cooking barley and precut fresh veggies. It’s just as good as the original, and gets more flavorful as it stands. Look for quick-cooking barley (sometimes called 10-minute barley) in the grains or dried beans section of well-stocked supermarkets and natural foods stores. Trader Joe’s has their own brand, too. Or you can search for quick-cooking barley and order online.

Serves: 6 to 8

  • 2 cups quick-cooking barley
  • 5 cups water
  • Two 8-ounce packages sliced brown or white mushrooms (see Note)
  • 1 cup pre-grated carrots
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 tablespoon mixed seasoning blend (like Frontier or Mrs. Dash)
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill (or even better, use fresh and leave to end)
  • 3 to 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 to 2 cups plain unsweetened nondairy milk, or as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine the barley and water in a soup pot. Bring to a rapid simmer over high heat.

In the meantime, put the mushrooms in a colander and rinse them very well — get in there with your hands if need be and move them around under the running water.

Add the mushrooms, grated carrots (chop them in to smaller pieces with a knife or kitchen shears, if you’d like, but you can also leave them long), bouillon cube, seasoning blend, dill (if using dried), and white parts of the scallion.

Return to a rapid simmer, then turn down the heat and cook for 10 minutes, or until the barley is tender.

Stir enough nondairy milk to give the soup a medium-thick texture and season with salt and pepper.

Add as much fresh dill as you’d like. You can let the soup stand for a few minutes before serving, or serve right away.

The soup thickens as it stands, so thin with more nondairy milk as needed, and adjust the seasonings.

Note: Make sure the mushrooms look fresh and clean — sliced mushrooms are more perishable than whole.

20-minute Mushroom-Barley Soup

Photos: Evan Atlas

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Posted by Jordan St. Clair-Jackson

Nothing satisfies like a comforting bowl of soup when you come home feeling tired and chilled, or need a remedy for a cold. But lots of chopping and long wait times for simmering don’t have to be part of the equation. Here are 10 warming and super easy vegan soups that combine fresh veggies and shortcuts that result in a good-sized portions. It’s no accident that more than half of these aree Asian-style soups, which as a matter of course require little cooking. But they’ll all have you saying “Soup’s on” in 20 minutes or less!

Japanese Noodle Soup with Crisp Vegetables: In this Japanese-style soup (shown at top), udon noodles in a hot broth are topped with crisp raw vegetables, making for an offbeat and pleasing presentation. It can be made minutes before you wish to serve it. The traditional way to eat this is to “slurp” the noodles with the help of chopsticks, then finish off the remaining soup with a spoon.

Instant Kimchi Noodle Soup

Instant Kimchi Noodle Soup: This bold-flavored soup by Hannah Kaminsky features  buckwheat soba noodles, which take only a few minutes of cooking to reach al dente perfection while adding depth and a pleasant earthiness to the entire bowl. Spicy Kimchi is the star of the show here; read labels carefully to make that you’re getting a brand free of fish products.

Vegan Miso Soup recipe

Nearly Instant Vegan Miso Soup: It’s nice to know that making miso soup, similar to what you get at Japanese restaurants (if you’re lucky enough to find one without fish broth) is quite easy. Lately, though, I’m not fond of what kombu (a sea vegetable) does for the soup. It has a fishy flavor (after all, it comes from the ocean), a weird slippery texture, and it’s expensive. Fortunately, this vegan miso soup recipe is just as good without it.

Nearly instant vegan butternut squash soup

Instant Butternut Squash Soup with Spinach and Peas: Pureed butternut squash soup is so comforting. But unless you’ve got time to spare, making it from scratch is a bit of a project. A good one, mind you, but not one that most people would embark on when they walk in the door from a long day of work. To make this nearly-instant butternut squash soup with spinach and peas, we use the soup base that comes in 32-ounce containers. 

Thai coconut-corn soup

Nearly-Instant Thai Coconut-Corn Soup: Here’s a soup that’s great for any kind of weather, not just when it’s chilly and rainy. Because it’s ready to serve in 20 minutes, it’s for any time you want soup in a hurry. You can even chill it and serve it cold on warm days. 

20-minute asian vegetable noodle soup

20-Minute Asian Vegetable-Noodle Soup: When it’s cold and damp outside, or when you’re sick with cold or flu, you might be tempted to send your significant other to pick up some soup from the local Chinese eatery, as we used to do on such occasions. It was usually something called Bean Curd Vegetable Soup. The veggies were never very vivid or interesting, but still, it provided instant comfort. Here’s an equally comforting version for you to make at home that might be quicker than take-out!

Very quick black bean soup

Very Quick Black Bean Soup: Making a soul-satisfying black bean soup in such short order is a rarity, but organic canned black beans are so flavorful that they do the trick perfectly. Organic black beans are packed in a nice thick base, rather than a briny liquid. Take note of the variety of toppings you can use to dress the soup up each time you make it. This is delicious served with cornbread or a leafy wrap.

Alphabet vegetable Soup recipe

Alphabet Vegetable Soup: This tasty soup comes together, and is a fantastic way to get kids of all ages to eat their veggies! As kids get older, you can leave out the alphabets (or replace them with tiny shells, orzo, or other small pasta), but those letters floating around in the soup gives it great appeal to young eaters. This soup will recall the canned version—but it’s much better and fresher. 

Coconut-Curried-Red-Lentil-Soup-with-Spinach leslie cerier

Coconut Curried Red Lentil Soup: The red palm oil and red lentils give Leslie Cerier’s soup a beautiful orange color. Feel free to use any other kind of oil, and any greens you like such as spinach, collards, kale, or mustard greens.

Tofu vegetable soup

Colorful Asian-Style Vegetable Tofu Soup:  Last but not least, another quick Asian-stye soup. This quick and colorful bowlful will please anyone who enjoys Asian flavors. Just toss everything into a soup pot and in a few minutes, it’s done! Try enticing kids and teens with this simple soup. 

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