Spicy Grain Soup


The Good News Based on a brothy tortilla soup, this fiery, substantial soup is full of nutty-tasting barley, brown rice and bulgur, creating a dish that's high in fiber. Mary Ellen Diaz says it's one of the most popular recipes she makes for First Slice's soup kitchen. "Latin flavors do well on the street," she explains. More Healthy Soup Recipes

Spicy Grain Soup
Photo: © Frances Janisch
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 40 mins


  • 1/2 cup pearl barley

  • Water

  • 1/2 cup short-grain brown rice

  • 1/2 cup bulgur

  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil

  • 3 ancho or dried mulato chiles—stemmed, seeded and broken into 2-inch pieces

  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced

  • 2 garlic cloves, halved

  • 2 quarts vegetable broth

  • 1 1/2 cups canned diced tomatoes

  • 6 cilantro sprigs, plus 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps thinly sliced

  • One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced

  • 1 medium zucchini, finely diced

  • 1 medium parsnip, finely diced

  • 1/2 cup salted roasted pumpkin seeds


  1. In a medium saucepan, cover the barley with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until tender, about 35 minutes; drain. Return the barley to the pan and cover. In another medium saucepan, cover the brown rice with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until tender, about 35 minutes. Drain the brown rice and add to the barley.

  2. In a medium bowl, cover the bulgur with 1 cup of hot water. Cover and let stand until the water is absorbed, 10 minutes.

  3. In a large, heavy pot, heat the olive oil. Add the chiles, onion and garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, cilantro sprigs and allspice and season with 1 tablespoon of salt and a pinch of pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Let cool slightly. Puree the soup in a blender and return to the pan.

  4. Add the mushrooms, black beans, carrot, zucchini and parsnip to the pureed soup and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Add the barley, rice and bulgur and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds and chopped cilantro and serve.


One Serving 368 cal, 14 gm fat, 1.4 gm sat fat, 29 gm carb, 11 gm fiber.

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