I want to substitute barley for 1/2 cup of macaroni in a soup. How much barley should I use?

2 Answers 2


The pasta in the soup is only there to add substance and calories, so the amount is not really fixed. You can change it according to your preference.

Without any further information about how you like your soup, I'd say go for a volume replacement, and add 1/2 cup of barley. When you pour a spoon of soup into your mouth, it is mostly the volume of the barley which you perceive as "amount" in relation to the volume of the vegetables and liquid. So if you were to start consider densities and try replacing by weight, the final soup will appear to have less starch than the original.

This is only a starting point, if you find out that you don't like the amount, you can always adjust it for the next batch to whatever you like it to be, without fearing interactions with the rest of the soup.

  • Thank you for the prompt input. I have tried the 1/2 cup. Your explanation was helpful. Will update after eating.
    – user53238
    Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 21:41
  • I disagree strongly that the pasta is used to add 'calories', there are some great 'low calorie' soup recipes readily available on the internet. Try this one.. The pasta is there as part of the recipe. Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 6:11
  • 4
    Of course the pasta is there as part of the recipe, and people put it in the recipe to add calories to the recipe. A soup consisting of water and a handful of veggies is very low in calories, that's why people started adding pasta or grains to soups, so it will feed them.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jan 1, 2017 at 12:14

I'd use a weight replacement so the amount of carbohydrates is the same. One pound of elbow macaroni is about 4 cups of dry pasta, so you'd need 2 ounces of barley. 1/2 cup of barley would be about 2.5 ounces, not a lot of difference.

The barley adsorbs a bit more liquid so you may need to add a bit of extra water depending on the amount of soup being cooked.

  • I did find that a full 1/2 cup substitution was a little heavy in the barley, I did add a little extra fluid to the required amount for the soup. It added nicely, but a full 1/2 cup was more than I will use in the future.
    – user53238
    Commented Dec 31, 2016 at 2:42

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