One-Pot Wonders

One-Pot Squash & Barley Bowl With Miso

October 11, 2021
9 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Sophia Pappas. Food Stylist: Lauren Lapenna.
  • Prep time 4 hours 55 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This easy one-pot meal is the kind of dish that looks and tastes like something you’ve been simmering all day, but it actually comes together in under 45 minutes—with very little attention. It’s creamy, savory, and perfect for fall. This recipe takes advantage of the deep, sweet flavor and smooth texture of kabocha squash. You may have seen this squat, green-skinned beauty at the farmers market or eaten it in a Japanese restaurant. When simmered beyond 20 minutes, its dense flesh breaks down and becomes smooth and creamy, creating the perfect velvety background for chewy barley and vibrant leafy greens. The dish is flavored with a combination of white miso, fresh ginger, and tamari—which combine beautifully to create a fortifying and delicious meal that is sure to warm you up on chilly autumn days.

This recipe calls for mellow or sweet white miso, but other types will work, too: If you choose to use a darker miso, like brown rice or barley miso, start with 1½ tablespoons and increase to taste. The darker the miso, the salter it tends to taste.

As much as I love this bowl served straight up, sometimes I like to dress it up with toasted seeds (pumpkin, sesame, or sunflower), gomasio (sesame salt), sliced scallions or chives, or a drizzle of good olive or flax oil, or all of the above. If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, it stores well for up to 4 days in the fridge. Just warm it up with a splash of water and remove from the heat as soon as it begins to simmer—this way you don’t harm the naturally occurring enzymes in the miso.
Amy Chaplin

What You'll Need
  • 1 tablespoon untoasted sesame oil or olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley, soaked in 1 cup of water for 4 hours (or up to 12)
  • 1 1/2 pounds kabocha squash (about half of a medium squash), seeded, peeled, and cut into ¾-inch pieces (4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons mellow or sweet white miso
  • 2 cups chopped leafy greens, such as chard, spinach, baby kale, or tatsoi
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon tamari, plus more as needed
  1. Warm the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 1 minute, then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently for 8 to 10 minutes or until the onion is soft and golden.
  2. Drain and rinse the barley and add to the pot along with the squash, 3 cups filtered water, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the barley is soft.
  3. Remove ½ cup of cooking liquid and place in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Stir the miso into the cooking liquid until dissolved. Set aside.
  4. Stir the chard into the barley mixture and cook for 3 minutes, or until wilted.
  5. Using your hand, squeeze the grated ginger into a small bowl to extract the juice. Compost the ginger pulp (or use in tea). Stir 1 tablespoon ginger juice and the dissolved miso mixture into the pot. Cook until the mixture is heated through but not simmering, then remove from the heat. Season with tamari to taste (start with 1 teaspoon and increase from there) and serve hot.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Cheryl
  • Amy Chaplin
    Amy Chaplin
  • Ro Ro
    Ro Ro
  • Ellen Lowitt
    Ellen Lowitt
Amy Chaplin is a two-time James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and vegetarian chef. Amy's approach to cooking is inspired by nature and the healing benefits of whole food ingredients. Her recipes have been featured in T Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Vogue, among other publications. She divides her time between Brooklyn and Upstate New York.

10 Reviews

Ro R. February 2, 2024
I really, really liked the consistency of this dish, more stew than soup - thank you, barley. Taste-wise though, it was something of a let down. I used jarred ginger, which might have been the issue, but I think next time I'd use a flavored miso to give it some oomph.
Ellen L. January 26, 2024
Best winter squash soup I've ever tasted! The miso added a lovely umami. I followed the recipe as written. I probably got less ginger than it called for and would not have minded more, but it was delicious nonetheless. My only issue was peeling the kabocha squash. I probably spent 45 min just peeling the half squash I needed. I'll have to research better methods or just use butternut squash, even though I thought the flavor of the kabocha was superior.
Jessica G. December 12, 2022
Delicious, velvety, savory soup! Make it.
Ashley November 5, 2022
So easy! So delicious!
Cheryl January 1, 2022
Good and nourishing! This was easy to make. I'm happy to find a way to use barely because I like it and it's really healthy. I don't think my barley was pearled, so I soaked it 4 hours (could be up to 12 and that might have been better). I used vegetable broth instead of water, but I don't think it was necessary. I used one bunch of swiss chard and liked all the greens in the soup. Thank you!
Adamalia October 31, 2021
I made it. It is excellent! I haven't ginger and I put in black miso. This soup make my day! Thank you. I have your book Whole food cooking and I have to say it is really really useful.
Lisa P. October 24, 2021
Wondering when I should add the squash. Thanks!
Amy C. October 25, 2021
Yes you add squash in step 2.

Hope you enjoy!
Julia October 22, 2021
Delicious! This is everything Amy says it would be. I made a double batch and am looking forward to having it warm me over the next few days.
Note: I subbed out Soy sauce for Tamari. It worked. I also added a bit more water as needed. I also had drier ginger, I think, and so squeezed what juice I could out of mine, but added some grated as well. I love ginger. Thank you for this recipe!
Amy C. October 25, 2021
I'm delighted to know that you're enjoying it. You could also add dried ginger to the onions once sauteed.