Pearl Barley and Vegetable Minestrone

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Everyone enjoys the comforting flavor of warming, nutritious minestrone soup. This Italian favorite is traditionally made with whatever families have on hand, combining vegetables, beans, and pasta in one satisfying bowl. Those of us who enjoyed minestrone made by our mothers or grandmothers at the end of a cold day no doubt still appreciate the ways in which this soup warms, satiates, and brings back memories of childhood.

Healthy Substitutions

We’ve taken traditional minestrone recipes and have turned this classic into a healthy soup dish that contains all of the comfort and warmth you associate with minestrone, with additional health benefits that allow you to watch your waistline and keep your energy levels high. We’ve substituted pearled barley for pasta, which boosts this dish’s fiber content and gives you sustained energy throughout your day. Barley is a excellent substitute for refined, white grains and pastas, with its high fiber and nutty flavor.

In our version, we’ve used zucchini, tomatoes, celery, swiss chard, green beans, and cabbage for a soup that is bursting with superfood veggies and their fiber content, antioxidant powers, and vitamins and minerals. You may have other veggies on hand depending on your location, season, or what you may have received as a part of your CSA. Feel free to make substitutions to this Pearl Barley and Vegetable Minestrone, and throw any healthy veggies into this soup for a tasty, healthy lunch or dinner the whole family will enjoy.

Pearl Barley and Vegetable Minestrone

Pearl Barley and Vegetable Minestrone

Yields: 8 servings | Serving Size: 1-3/4 cups | Calories: 113 | Total Fat: 3 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Trans Fat: 0 g | Cholesterol: 2 mg | Sodium: 313 mg | Carbohydrates: 18 g | Dietary Fiber: 5 g | Sugars: 5 g | Protein: 5 g | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 4


  • 1/4 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 6 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth, low sodium-preferred
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 big potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 pound (8 ounces) swiss chard, tough stalks removed and diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 4 ounces green beans, chopped
  • 4 ounces cabbage, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated (more if desired)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


  1. Rinse the barley and put them in a saucepan with the vegetable broth. Add all the vegetables except the parsley and basil.
  2. Over medium heat, let the soup boil then simmer on low heat for 1-1/2 hours. While cooking, stir occasionally to avoid the vegetables from sticking at the bottom of the saucepan.
  3. Add the parsley and basil in the middle of cooking then season with salt and pepper.
  4. When it is cooked, turn off the fire then add the Parmesan (amount depends on you) and drizzle with fresh extra virgin olive oil.
  5. Serve while hot.

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We’d love to hear what you think of this Pearl Barley and Vegetable Minestrone, or what you’d like to see on our site. Leave us a comment in the comments section below.

8 Comments on "Pearl Barley and Vegetable Minestrone"

  1. Michelle  March 29, 2016

    Is this something that I could put in the crackpot to cook all day?

    • SkinnyMs.  March 30, 2016

      Yes, definitely. Cook on low for 3-4 hours.

  2. Annie  January 22, 2017

    Is this 10 pts a serving as I can’t see where total comes to 80pts if it serves 8.

  3. Juju  February 25, 2017

    What is in this dish that adds up to 10 points??

    • Gale Compton  February 27, 2017

      Juju, Please check the recipe for updated data.

  4. Megan  January 4, 2020

    I’m confused about the chard since I’ve never cooked it before. Do we dice only the stocks for this recipe? Or do we also use the leaves? Not the stems?

    • Gale Compton  January 11, 2020

      We used the thin stems and leaves but not the thicker stalk.


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