Onion, Barley, & Cannellini Bean Soup


A couple of years ago, I received an orange Staub soup pot with an acorn handle as a gift from my partner.  I don’t remember if it was a present for a special occasion or just a gift because I was going to make soup and didn’t have a good soup pot.  Regardless,  I loved it from the minute I saw it’s bright enamel outside, it’s black matte inside, and especially it’s silver acorn lid handle.

soup pot and lid

Along with the pot, came a simple pamphlet with some recipes.  I have no idea what’s happened to that little book, but it contained my inspiration for this soup.

This is one of those wonderful soups that doesn’t require a lot of time, yet tastes like it’s been simmering on your stove all day.  You can make it when you get home from work or when you get a hunger for a good warm soup on the spur of the moment — it can be on the table in an hour if you use canned beans.

I like to think of this as flu season and heart healthy soup all rolled into one delicious tonic.  The onions and garlic have disease fighting properties and all of the ingredients including the barley, and the cannellini beans are heart healthy powerhouses.

Onions are known to enhance our immune systems and have high amounts of phytochemicals such as flavonoids, which guard against cancer and other diseases.  As for heart health, onions have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and can even help increase our good cholesterol.


Then there’s the garlic.  I like to add a lot of garlic to pretty much everything I make –especially soup.  Garlic has also been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce blood pressure, and helps keep infections at bay.


The barley in this soup also makes it heart healthy.  When purchasing barley make sure you buy whole, hulled, or hulless barley because these varieties still have their whole grain properties and provide more fiber, making them the most heart healthy.  All of that fiber helps reduce our bad cholesterol levels, which further reduces our risk of heart disease, and barley helps us feel full longer, so it aides in weight loss.


Finally, the cannellini beans in this soup also help prevent heart disease, lower cholesterol, and just like the barley, can help us loose weight by making us feel full longer.


Onion Barley & Cannellini Bean Soup


1 – 15 oz can cannellini beans drained and rinsed OR 1  1/2 cups dry beans covered with water and soaked overnight.

1 large yellow onion

1/2 cup barley (whole, hulled, or hulless)

2 tbsp olive oil

3 large garlic cloves minced

12 cups water

4 tsp Better Than Bouillon brand organic vegetable bouillon (the jar calls for more, but I like to cut the recommended amount in half and allow the other ingredients to create the flavor)

Black Pepper to taste


If Using Dry Beans:

Place the dry beans in a large pot and cover completely with 4 to 5 cups of water.


Soak the beans overnight.  The next day, drain the beans and rinse them completely.

You can either cook the beans in a pressure cooker or on the stove in a pan.  The idea is to cook the beans until they are soft — you aren’t seasoning the beans at this point.  You are just making plain beans to add to the soup.

Using a Pressure Cooker:

Cover the beans with 4 to 5 cups of fresh water and secure the pressure cooker’s lid.  At The Dusty Dog we are at 7900 feet, and no amount of cooking beans on the stovetop will make them soft, so I pressure cook them on high for 20 minutes after the steam begins.  Your pressure cooker probably came with an instruction manual, which you should consult for instructions on cooking beans.  If you are closer to sea level, you won’t have to cook the beans quite as long and may not need to use the high setting.


Cooking Beans Without a Pressure Cooker:

Place the beans in a large pot and cover with 4 to 5 cups of fresh water.  Turn the stove to high and bring the beans to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours stirring occasionally, and testing for softness periodically.  When the beans are soft remove from heat, drain, and set aside.  The time needed to get the beans soft enough will vary, and could take longer than 2 hours.

Using Canned Beans:

Drain the beans in a colander and rinse with cold water.  Set aside for later.

Preparing the Soup:

Slice the onion into rings.  You can also chop the onion if you prefer, but I like big rings of onions for this soup.  Place the olive oil in the bottom of your soup pan and heat the oil.  Place the onion rings into the pan and saute for approximately 10 minutes stirring frequently to prevent sticking and burning.


When the onions begin to turn golden add the water, bouillon, minced garlic, and pepper.  Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Once the soup reaches it’s boiling point, reduce the heat to medium low, cover loosely with a lid, and simmer for an hour stirring occasionally.


When the soup has cooked for an hour, add the beans and stir.  Continue cooking the soup another 15 minutes then serve.

Serves 4

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About Lisa Orwig

I'm a homegrown cook sharing recipes and other great stuff about food from all over the world.
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