This vegan mushroom barley stew is a comforting meal for a cold day. It can be prepped and frozen in advance, and dumped in the crockpot to be ready in time for dinner on a busy day!
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I’ve definitely been getting ready for spring with some of my recent recipes (asparagus and peas, anyone?), but TBH it’s not really spring yet in Minnesota. We’ve had a few 50+ degree days, but recently the days have been damp and chilly.
So obviously I’m seizing the opportunity to prolong soup season in our house. This Mushroom Barley Stew is just perfect for a cold spring day, and it’s pretty much the easiest soup I have on here!
Part of what makes this stew so easy is that it’s a crockpot “dump meal” or a slow cooker freezer meal or whatever prepped-in-advance title you want to give it. In a nutshell, these meals entail gathering the ingredients, storing them in a bag in the freezer, and never thinking about them again until you dump it all into the crockpot for a quick meal.
So easy, I know. The most challenging part of the process is remembering to take the bag out of the freezer to thaw it in the fridge a day before you want to make the meal. But if you can master that, then you will be good to go! (I find cell phone alarms/reminders to be particularly helpful…)
How to Make Slow Cooker Mushroom Barley Stew
Mushroom Barley Stew is pretty short on ingredients (no complaints here). All you need is:
- Mushrooms (duh)
- Barley, uncooked (duh)
- Mirepoix: carrots, celery, onion
- Dried thyme
- Bay leaf
- Veggie broth
How can something with such simple ingredients be so flavorful? Beats me. All I know is that the slow cooker is a magical tool that makes things taste so yummy and comforting. If you haven’t dusted off that bad boy in a while, now is the perfect opportunity.
If you want to freeze this meal to make at a later time, you need to quarter the mushrooms, chop the carrots, celery, and onion, mince the garlic, and measure out the dry barley. Dump all of that into a freezer bag. I personally like to use reusable Stasher bags. Throw on a label that tells you what ingredients to add when you put it in the slow cooker (thyme, bay leaf, broth), and BOOM. All done.
You can also make this all at once. Just skip the whole freezing then thawing thing.
Tips for Serving, Storing, and Reheating
This recipe makes about 6 servings, so depending on how many people you’re feeding, you may want to store some of it in the fridge or freezer. It will keep well in the fridge for 5-7 days. Just reheat it in the microwave for ~2 minutes on high, or on the stove over low heat (be careful not to scorch it).
You can also freeze some of it and reheat it in a saucepan on the stove over low heat until it’s heated through. Keep in mind that barley is fairly starchy and may absorb more liquid the longer the stew is stored. You can add some water or broth before reheating if you desire.
Oh, and BTW, this goes REALLY well with crunchy sourdough bread. YUM.
Slow Cooker Mushroom Barley Stew
- 1 yellow onion - diced
- 3 large carrots - sliced
- 3 stalks celery - sliced
- 3 cloves garlic - minced or pressed
- 16 oz white button mushrooms - quartered
- 1 cup pearled barley - dry
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- Salt - to taste
- Dice the onion and garlic, slice the carrots and celery, and quarter the mushrooms. If you are prepping this in advance to make at a later time, add these ingredients to a freezer bag with the dry barley. Label with the other ingredients you need and how long it will cook in the crockpot. Put it in the freezer and pull it out to thaw a day before you want to make the meal.
- Add the veggies and barley to the slow cooker with the broth, bay leaf, and dried thyme. Stir, cover, and cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.
- Enjoy warm with crunchy bread!
Pin this Slow Cooker Mushroom Barley Stew now to make later!