Vegetable Soup Recipe:
Barley Vegetable Pesto Soup

Looking for a vegetable soup recipe that is a bit out of the ordinary? If you like pesto, this is the soup for you! It's easy to make, it's hearty and filling and it has a unique and delicious taste.

pesto soup

The nutritional yeast gives this soup a lovely flavor - but if you can't find nutritional yeast, go ahead and make the soup anyway. It will still be delicious - just not quite as delicious!

What is nutritional yeast, anyway?

  • It's an inactive yeast (it can't be used for bread making or fermentation).
  • It's used mainly as a nutritional supplement.
  • It is yellowish in colour.
  • It is available in both flake or powder form. I prefer the flakes, but either would work in this recipes.
  • It's a primary yeast - which means that it is grown specifically for this purpose. (It's actually grown on top of molasses!)
  • It is rich in B-Vitamins.
  • It is available in many natural foods stores. Look in the bulk section.
  • It is called "savory yeast" in some places.

Check that you have these staples at home

  • in the cupboard

    • prepared vegetable stock
    • pot barley
    • garlic
    • jar of pesto
    • nutritional yeast
    • tamari
    • salt
    • pepper

  • in the fridge or freezer

    • onions
    • bottled lemon juice

Buy these fresh ingredients

  • carrots
  • potato
  • tomato

Get out your equipment

  • Essential

    • a large saucepan with a lid
    • a cutting board and sharp knife

  • Nice to have but not necessary

    • measuring cups and spoons (if not, just estimate)
    • a garlic press (if not, mince the garlic with a knife)

    The vegetable soup recipe

    6 cups/1.5 L vegetable stock

    1 cup/250 mL pot barley, presoaked

    3 cups/750 mL diced carrots

    1 cup/250 mL diced potato

    1/2 cup/125 mL chopped onion

    2 cloves garlic, pressed

    1 tomato, chopped

    1/2 cup/125 mL pesto

    1/3 cup/75 mL nutritional yeast

    1 Tbsp/15 mL tamari

    1 Tbsp/15 mL lemon juice



    Put the stock and the barley in a large saucepan that has a lid.
    Bring to a boil.
    Add the carrots, potato, onion, garlic and tomato.
    Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until the barley is chewy but tender (about 30 minutes).

    Add the pesto, nutritional yeast, tamari, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

    Heat until the soup is warmed through.


    • Use soy sauce instead of tamari.

    • Use freshly squeezed lemon juice instead of bottled.

    Ideas for making this recipe your own

    • What other vegetables could you add? Just about anything would taste great in this soup! How about adding some leafy greens like spinach?

    • Use your own homemade vegetable stock.

    • Use your own homemade pesto.


    • Don't confuse nutritional yeast with brewer's yeast - or baking yeast! It is a completely different thing.

    • Wondering what to do with the rest of your packet of nutritional yeast after you have made your soup? I like sprinkling nutritional yeast on popcorn! Or you can use it on pasta in place of parmesan cheese.

    • Soak the barley overnight, or for at least six hours.

    • Although pearl barley cooks faster than pot barley, I don't use it because it is highly processed and much less nutritious. (Quick barley is pearl barley that has been steamed and dried. It cooks even faster - but again, it is missing most of the goodness of barley.)

    Menu suggestion

    Serve this dish with

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