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bowl of root vegetable and barley with croutons
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4.93 from 26 votes

Root Vegetable Soup

There's nothing like Fall soups to help ease the transition from summer. Root Vegetable Soup - loaded with squash, sweet potato, turnip, celeriac, carrots, barley and onions - is the perfect segue into Fall. Nutrient-rich, low calorie and, most importantly, absolutely delicious. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: soups and starters
Cuisine: American, Vegetarian
Servings (change as needed): 8
Author: Cheryl


  • 2 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (2 tsp)
  • 10 -12 cups peeled and diced root vegetables, 1/2 inch (e.g. sweet potato, celery root/celeriac, turnip, carrots, parsnip. Butternut squash is great too) Note 1
  • 7 cups water or vegetable stock (or broth) Note 2
  • 1/3 cup pearl barley, rinsed Note 3 on optional soak


  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more or less depending on broth used)
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill leaves (optional)


  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • Optional Garnishes: Homemade croutons (Note 4), Parmesan cheese, squeeze of lemon juice, drizzle of olive oil, chopped fresh herbs.


  • SAUTE AROMATICS AND VEGETABLES: Heat oil or melt butter on medium heat in a large soup pot. Add onions and sauté 5 minutes until translucent. Stir in garlic for 30 seconds. Add root vegetables and stir for another 3 minutes.
  • SIMMER SOUP: Add broth (or water), barley, thyme, salt, pepper and dill (if using). Bring to boil, cover, then reduce heat to low/ Simmer for 30-40 minutes until vegetables and barley are soft and tender, but not mushy. Soup will thicken on standing or in fridge overnight. If too thick, add a little bit of water or broth.
  • FINISH AND SERVE: Stir in spinach for 1 minute to let it wilt. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more thyme, salt, dill etc as you like. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with crusty warm bread, homemade croutons (Note 4). grated Parmesan cheese, a drizzle of olive oil or a couple drops of lemon juice,


  1. Root Vegetables and quantities: To get 10-12 cups of diced vegetables, I used 1 large sweet potato (~3 cups), 2 medium-large carrots (~2 cups), 1 large celery root (~2 cups), 1 large white turnip (~2 cups) plus 2 cups cubes of butternut squash (not actually a root vegetable but great in this soup). Feel free to use any combination of these or other root veggies you like including parsnips, rutabaga and white potato.
  2. Broth or Water options: Use any combination of water and vegetable broth. You can even use chicken broth. I use part vegetable broth and part concentrated undiluted canned chicken broth (adding my own water) if I'm not serving to vegetarians. I find it has more depth. Needless to say, homemade vegetable or chicken broth is even better. 
  3. Barley - soak or not? Pearl barley, the kind of barley sold in most grocery stores, has its outer husk removed, so technically there is no need to soak it. To make it cook faster, I do give it a quick rinse and soak while I'm cutting up the vegetables. Feel free to ignore.
  4. Homemade Croutons (for 2-4): Cut 2 slices bread into 1/2-1 inch pieces. Most breads will work. Stale is good but not essential. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan to medium. Add bread cubes in a single layer in pan. Sprinkle with salt (and garlic powder if desired). Continue to toast, stirring occasionally until nicely browned, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Make Ahead: Root vegetable soup can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for 4 days. Or frozen for up to 4 months. It gets thicker on standing or freezing, so add some additional broth or water when reheating. 
Nutrition values are calculated without garnishes.
Calories: 226kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1141mg | Potassium: 827mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1266IU | Vitamin C: 38mg | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 2mg