gluten free substitute for pearl barley in soup

It is no secret that barley is a fantastic superfood, but many people often look for a gluten free substitute for pearl barley in soup.  

The versatility of this grain means that it can be used in a wide variety of dishes.

But when it comes to making a nice, hearty bowl of soup, this grain is in a league of its own.

But what if you have a hankering for a hearty bowl of barley soup but no barley in the house?

Or, you may simply be looking for a suitable gluten-free alternative? Don’t worry because you can surely find many other grains to substitute barley.

The best gluten-free substitute for pearl barley soup depends on your unique requirements, but millet, brown rice, and quinoa are all suitable alternatives. 

The Awesomeness of Barley

a pearl barley

Barley has been a staple in most diets for a very long time. The grains of barley are larger and more shell-like than those of wheat.

However, you can find different varieties around the world, including barley flakes, whole-grain barley, and grits.

Particularly in the United States, pearl barley is much more common and well-known.

A thing about pearl barley is that some experts do not categorize it as a whole grain.

This is mainly because the bran and outer layers are removed during the polishing process.

That is perhaps why it does not have as many healthy nutrients as other types of barley.

Nevertheless, they can replace rice in any recipe and work great for porridge, soups, salads, and more. 

Using Pearl Barley in Soups and Stews

use a pearl barley in soups and stew

So many people love pearl barley in soups and stews. But, it does not work for everyone for various reasons, including gluten intolerance.

Moreover, some people do not use it thinking it is tasteless. This view does not hold water under all conditions. 

Barley, for instance, acquires a mild nutty flavor and a chewy texture when cooked. As a result, barley is as divisive a dietary item as yeast extracts. 

Getting Your Nutritional Fix from Barley

It would not be wrong to suggest that barley is a superfood. It is nutritionally dense and packs a solid energy punch, which makes it suitable for fitness enthusiasts.

The bran and the outer layer contribute significantly to its nutritional value, notably in terms of fiber. Each cup of barley provides you with 32g of fiber.

The same serving has about 23g of protein, with a wealth of minerals like magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6, and iron.

There are too many to count when listing the many health advantages of barley.

Barley’s high fiber content is a key factor in reducing the danger of developing colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Fact: Barley is free of cholesterol, so it may be a great choice if you are watching your blood cholesterol levels. 

Finding Gluten-Free Substitute for Pearl Barley in Soup

best substitute for pearl barley

There are different reasons people look for a substitute for pearl barley, but mostly, it is because of its gluten content.

About 5-8% of barley is gluten, so people with celiac disease just cannot consume it.

So, what can I substitute for pearl barley in soup? Here are some options to consider. 


Buckwheat is a grain linked to rhubarb but does not contain gluten.

It can be used as a substitute for steamed rice, or the whole seeds can be processed into flour. The protein and fiber content of buckwheat are both exceptional.

Buckwheat can also be substituted for any grain made from wheat, such as spelt, freekeh, wheat berries, or bulgur.  

And that is the reason why you will find it in crepes, noodles, pancakes and many other comfort foods.

It is worth mentioning that if you want to use it in place of barley, you may have to bear with its stronger flavor.

However, because it has a low glycemic index, it is hugely beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes and hypertension. 


use an oats

The addition of oats to soup improves the flavor and nutritional value of the dish significantly.

The good news is that you can use any type of oats, including quick-cook oats, rolled oats, and even steel-cut oats, in a soup.

Each of these is exactly the same, except for the time it takes to cook. Keep in mind that oats may not be quite as hard and chewy as barley.

Still, these grains can be used as a close substitute for it in a variety of recipes without sacrificing much in the way of flavor.

Fact: If you have a severe sensitivity to gluten, it is important to check the package for signs of possible cross-contamination during processing. 


use a millet

It seems the best thing about millet is that it is completely gluten-free, but that is not all. It is highly nutritious and offers many health benefits as well.

Remember, millet seeds lack the chewiness of barley.

Still, they are very much similar to the grain in terms of nutritional value, ease of preparation, and flavor, and they even have a slight edge in terms of sweetness.

You may use it in place of barley in any recipe calling for that grain and enjoy it in a wide variety of other dishes, such as salads, stews, soups, and even bread.

It is worth mentioning that this round grain may not be a complete protein like buckwheat, but it does provide more of the amino acids your body needs than most other grains.

Fact: Each ¼ cup of millet offers about 31g of carbs, 4g protein, 1g of fiber, and about 150 calories. 


a sorghum

 Sorghum is yet another ancient grain that can be part of any gluten-free diet. 

Most people may have never heard of it, but the truth is that it is the fifth most widely produced grain worldwide.

It is smaller and paler than corn and has a circular shape. Sorghum’s strong nutty flavor makes it an excellent substitute for pearl barley.

Sorghum is one of the healthiest and tastiest grains available, and you should definitely give it a shot.

Evidence suggests that its high nutrient content can also aid in the fight against many diseases. 

This is a great alternative to traditional flour for those trying to avoid gluten. 


the corn

Corn is an excellent alternative to barley because it has more flavor and is not as chewy.

Because of its versatility, corn has become one of the world’s most widely consumed and loved foods.

In some cases, corn’s unique texture and flavor make it preferable to barley’s more subtle taste.

But ultimately, it comes down to your personal preferences and what you want to achieve by substituting barley in a recipe. 

Brown Rice

Barley can be substituted for rice, particularly brown rice, in virtually any dish. 

And it can be the other way round – you can use brown rice if you want to avoid barley for its gluten content.

It will also be a healthier option to consider. The germ and bran of brown rice make it a superior source of fiber and other micronutrients.

A single serving of brown rice provides you with 6g of protein and 3g of fiber. Moreover, it is loaded with selenium and magnesium.

Other than substituting barley, you can also use brown rice in place of pasta, white rice, and bread in your diet.

You can use brown rice flour to make sweet puddings and many other desserts.

Fact: Brown rice includes a lot of calories and carbohydrates because, at its core, it is still rice, so too much of it at once can make you sick. 


a quinoa

For a variety of reasons, quinoa makes for a fantastic alternative to pearl barley.

It is essentially a high-quality grain, although it is technically a seed, which is why it is gluten-free.

It serves as a fine substitute for barley because it shares the same chewiness and subtle nuttiness. You can always use it to flavor veggies, meat, and soups.

Moreover, the health-conscious community has always had a fondness for quinoa.

In fact, it is among those few food options that provide you with nine essential amino acids.

Fact: Bulgur wheat is among the most common substitutes for barley but you should try it only if you are not concerned about gluten sensitivity.

Read Next: Are Aldi Rice Krispies Gluten-Free or Not?


What is the best gluten-free substitute for pearl barley in soup? There are quite a few actually.

Farro is a great choice if you are only looking for a substitute and not concerned about gluten.

But, for stews and soups, you will get great results from sorghum, millet, brown rice, and corn.

Just consider the consistency you want to achieve and then choose the right substitute for barley in your recipe.