Slow-Cooker Bean, Kale & Barley Soup


Slow-Cooker Bean, Kale & Barley Soup


  • 1 ¼ cups dried bean soup mix (see note below)
  • ½ cup dried shiitake mushrooms (optional; can also substitute 1 pound of fresh mushrooms)
  • 3 cups water
  • 8 cups vegetable broth (or substitute chicken broth for more flavor)
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrot
  • ¾ cup finely chopped scrubbed Yukon Gold potato
  • ½ cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or substitute 1 tsp of dried oregano)
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt plus 1/8 teaspoon
  • 1 (4 inch) Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 4 cups finely chopped curly kale
  • ½ cup chopped fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley or chives, plus whole parsley leaves for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese for serving (optional)


  1. If your dried bean soup mix contains any red kidney beans and cannellini beans, remove them for another use (see note below). Combine the bean soup mix, mushrooms and water in a large bowl; soak for 4 hours or up to 8 hours. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl; reserve 2 cups of the soaking water. Set aside the soaked beans. Remove and discard the mushroom stems; finely chop the mushrooms and set aside.

  2. Combine broth, onion, carrot, potato, barley, wine, garlic, Italian seasoning, oregano, pepper, crushed red pepper, salt, Parmesan rind and the reserved 2 cups soaking water, beans and chopped mushrooms in an 8-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook until the beans and potatoes are tender, 4 hours on High or 8 hours on Low.

  3. Stir in kale; cover and cook until the kale is tender, 10 to 15 minutes on High or 20 to 30 minutes on Low. Remove and discard the Parmesan rind. Stir in herbs and lemon juice. Divide the soup among 6 bowls; garnish with parsley leaves, and freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired.


When shopping for dried bean soup mix, look for a combination of dried beans, lentils and peas, but try to avoid those with red kidney beans and cannellini beans which need to be boiled before adding to a slow cooker. Because most slow cookers do not heat food to more than 212°F, boiling is necessary to eliminate high levels of lectin, which causes temporary gastrointestinal distress. If your dried bean soup mix contains red kidney beans and cannellini beans, pick them out before starting this recipe.