November 4, 2020
From Plant-Based Recipes

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I am excited about this easy to make vegan winter stew recipe. The mushrooms and barley are really filling, and the stew features a bunch of ingredients that are inexpensive if you buy them, or easy to grow if you garden them. Turmeric and garlic flavors the stew, but doesn’t overpower the dish.

Vegan Mushroom Barley stew in a bowl
This vegan mushroom and barley stew recipe features root vegetables and mushooms for a filling meal.

I tried making this recipe with swiss chard roots, however I advise using beets in the recipe. Swiss Chard and beets are the same family – swiss chard is grown for leaves, and beets are grown for their roots. If you grow swiss chard, find a section following this recipe about the experiment.

This Mushroom Barley winter stew recipe is made in the slow cooker or crock pot. You can also make it on the stovetop – find directions after the recipe for how you can adapt it to the stove. You can also find some serving suggestions after the recipe.

The process is just as easy as the meal is inexpensive. Throw all of the ingredients into your slow cooker (or a large pot), stir, and wait for it to finish cooking. Doesn’t get much easier than that!

Vegan Mushroom Barley stew with turmeric and garlic recipe.
This is freshly out of the slow cooker. If you store some for later, the leftovers will be much thicker and can be served on a plate.

Meal prepping the winter stew recipe

This winter stew recipe is great for meal prepping or using as leftovers. It continues to thicken in the fridge, making it easy to eat on the go or at work if you are using this for meal prepping or as leftovers. The leftovers should also freeze just fine, too. We have always eaten it all up before we needed to freeze them, but recipes I’ve made like this reheat fine.

Turmeric and Garlic flavored Mushroom Barley stew recipe

Vegan Mushroom and Barley Stew with Turmeric and Garlic

This hearty winter stew with mushrooms, barley and many root vegetables also features flavors of turmeric and garlic. Make this meal in the slow cooker or on the stovetop. Warm and filling and great for leftovers or meal prepping. See the main recipe page for stovetop directions!

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5 from 1 vote

Servings: 8 Servings

Calories: 182kcal

Author: Jen deHaan


  • 8 cups Substitute vegetable broth
  • 1 cup barley Dry, but washed and rinsed.
  • 1 lb squash Chopped. Such as butternut, kabocha, or similar
  • 10 oz beets Sliced. Or substitute any root vegetable. About 1.5 cups
  • 10 oz carrots Sliced. About 1.5 cups
  • 11 oz onions Sliced or diced. About 1.5 cups
  • 2 oz mushrooms Dried, or 2 cups fresh. Slice if desired


  • 1/4 cup
  • 7 cloves See notes
  • 1 Tbsp
  • 2 tsp more to taste
  • 2 tsp
  • 2 tsp See notes
  • 2 tsp
  • 1 tsp

Optional garnishes

  • green onions / scallions Optional
  • salt and pepper Optional
  • Optional
  • Optional


  • Rinse and drain the barley, and set aside.

  • Add the broth and all seasonings to your slow cooker and whisk together well. See notes.

  • Add all of the remaining ingredients (barley, mushrooms, and vegetables) to the slow cooker and combine thoroughly.

  • Set the slow cooker to high, and cook for about 6 hours.

  • When the barley, mushrooms and carrots are tender you are ready to serve! See serving instructions in the post. Add suggested garnishes if desired.


Garlic: I took all of the spices and the garlic and blended it in the vitamix with some of the broth and apple cider vinegar, then added it to the slow cooker. You do not need to do it this way, you can mince the garlic and add it to the pot along with the spices.
Sage: fresh or ground. I used fresh, half blended in the vitamix (mentioned above), and half chopped leaf.
Beets: You can use any color of beets, but do note that the color you select will affect the resulting color of this stew.
Leftovers: This will thicken a lot as leftovers, and can be served on a plate as a side dish even.
See the main recipe page for stovetop directions!

Nutrition Facts

Vegan Mushroom and Barley Stew with Turmeric and Garlic

Amount Per Serving

Calories 182
Calories from Fat 9

% Daily Value*

Fat 1g2%

Saturated Fat 1g6%

Trans Fat 1g

Polyunsaturated Fat 1g

Monounsaturated Fat 1g

Cholesterol 1mg0%

Sodium 211mg9%

Potassium 775mg22%

Carbohydrates 40g13%

Fiber 9g38%

Sugar 9g10%

Protein 6g12%

Vitamin A 12365IU247%

Vitamin C 26mg32%

Calcium 70mg7%

Iron 3mg17%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Making the winter stew recipe on the stovetop

I made this recipe in the slow cooker, but you can adapt it easily to cook on the stove. Instead of slow cooking for about 6 hours, follow these steps.

  • Add the seasonings and broth to the stock pot and stir well.
  • Add the barley, mushrooms, and vegetables to the stock pot and combine. See note below.
  • Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook for about 45 minutes, or until the barley and mushrooms are tender.
  • Note: If you are using whole dry mushrooms (like in the picture), I would recommend softening them with some boiling water and slicing before adding them to the pot. This allows them a greater chance to soften in this reduced cooking time.
Turmeric and Garlic flavored Mushroom Barley stew recipe
Lots of flavors and ingredients – it’s great for leftovers or for meal prepping at the beginning of the week.

Serving suggestions

We eat this winter stew recipe with a side of bread, and/or a salad with a simple vinigaritte.

You could add soy curls to the meal, or cubes of tofu, so it’s even heartier.

I would also suggest trying kale, chard, arugula or any other hearty green incorporated at the end of the cooking process or when serving.

Substitutes and changes

Here are some simple changes to this recipe:

SOS-free (salt, oil, sugar free): Use a sodium-free vegetable or mushroom broth.

Reduced sodium: This is not a high sodium meal, however you can reduce sodium even further by using less than the recommended boullion in this recipe (what I did when preparing this).

Gluten free: The barley in this recipe means that it is not gluten free. Try substituting quinoa, adding about 3/4 of a cup during the last 30-40 minutes of cooking.

Ingredients: Substitute any root vegetable for the carrots and beets in this recipe, such as parsnips or turnips. You could also try kohlrabi.

You could also substitute potato in this recipe, however expect it to break down quite a bit. This will particularly be the case when reheating leftovers.

I use dry mushrooms in this recipe, which are really easy to find and store. As noted in the recipe, you can substitute fresh mushrooms of course.

Using Swiss Chard roots in your cooking

Swiss chard and beets are in the same family. Swiss Chard has been cultivated for leaves, and beets have been cultivated for their roots. Swiss chard roots are something you will probably only encounter if you are (or know) a gardener. I pulled some of my swiss chard last week to make room for some shallots, and noticed huge beet like roots. Which got me thinking how I might try using them! Free food, right?

Swiss chard roots sliced on a cutting board
These swiss chard roots were tested in a version of this stew as an alternative to beets, since they are in the same family. They’re worth trying, but of course beets are better.

The advice I found online was to cook the roots for a long time, as they can be really tough. I had about 5 roots, and I estimate 4 of them were just fine to eat. I diced them really fine into this recipe to give them ample opportunity to cook through for a long time. However, a small percentage of the pieces were a bit “woody” – stringy and tough to eat.

Obviously not worth growing for roots, just grow beets. However, as a freebie if I’m pulling out chard, I might try cooking these again. But only in something that gets to simmer for a long time.

More mushrooms!

It’s mushroom season where I live, so I love creating dishes with them. Here are some favorites from the past that are particularly delicious at this time of year.

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Mushroom and Barley Winter stew recipe
This easy and inexpensive vegan recipe is for Mushroom and Barley winter stew. Loaded with root vegetables, mushrooms, barley and delicious spices including turmeric and garlic. Vegan, oil free, cheap and filling.

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Jen is a plant-based nutrition enthusiast and vegan living in British Columbia, Canada. She has over 20 years experience in software, graphics, and art, including many years in Silicon Valley corporations. Jen completed the Developing Healthy Communities graduate program at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Jen really likes dogs and dancing too.
Jen deHaan
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