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Chicken Barley Soup

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As the days get colder, warm up with a bowl of Chicken and Barley Soup, made with carrots, onions, celery, chicken breasts, and pearl barley.

Chicken Barley Soup
Chicken Barley Soup

On those cold nights when I can’t seem to get the chill out of my bones, I love making soup. One of my favorite soups growing up was Beef Barley Soup, but this chicken version which is a bit lighter, is also delicious. I use chicken on the bone because it gives it even more flavor. It’s a soup my whole family loves and is a nice alternative to classic chicken noodle soup. For more of soup recipes, click here.

Chicken Barley Soup in a pot with ladle.

What are the benefits of eating barley?

I love the chewy texture of barley, which feels like pasta when you eat it. I use pearl barley in this soup, which cooks faster than hulled barley. Using barley in your chicken soup makes for a more nutritious dish than chicken noodle soup. Barley has a ton of fiber, which helps with weight loss and digestion. It also has some protein and vitamins and minerals, like B6, niacin, phosphorous, and selenium.

Do you have to cook barley before putting it in the soup?

No, you don’t need to cook the barley before adding it to the soup. The barley cooks right in the soup.

Meal Prep Tips:

This hearty chicken barley soup is great for meal prep since the leftovers are even better the next day. It takes a while to cook, so make it when you have more time and then eat the leftovers throughout the week. You can also freeze this soup in portions to eat later.

How to Freeze Chicken Barley Soup:

Freeze leftovers in individual containers or in one large container for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator for one or two days depending on the size and then reheat in the microwave or on the stove.


  • If you can’t find barley, sub it with farro or quinoa as a gluten-free option. Pasta can also be used, adjust cook time as directed.
  • If you have leftover rotisserie chicken you can use that instead.

Chicken Barley Soup in a bowl with spoon.Chicken Barley Soup in a pot.

More Chicken Soup Recipes You’ll Love:

Chicken Barley Soup

5 from 41 votes
As the days get colder, warm up with a bowl of Chicken and Barley Soup, made with carrots, onions, celery, chicken breasts, and barley.
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Chicken Barley Soup
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 1 hr
Total: 1 hr 5 mins
Yield: 6
Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1-1/2 lbs skinless bone-in chicken breast makes 14 oz cooked
  • 7 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2/3 cup dry pearl barley
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste


  • Heat a large heavy pot or dutch oven on medium heat. Add the oil, carrots, onion, celery and garlic to the pot and stir.
    vegetables in a dutch oven.
  • Add chicken, broth, parsley, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer covered over low heat until the chicken and vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
    chicken soup in a pot
  • Remove the chicken, shred or cut the meat, discard the bones and return the chicken to the pot along with the barley, adjust the salt if needed and add fresh ground pepper. Simmer an additional 30 minutes, or until the barley is cooked.
  • Discard the bay leaves and serve. Makes about 9 cups.

Last Step:

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Serving: 1 1/2 cups, Calories: 262 kcal, Carbohydrates: 24 g, Protein: 31 g, Fat: 4 g, Cholesterol: 83 mg, Sodium: 744 mg, Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 2 g



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168 comments on “Chicken Barley Soup”

  1. Avatar photo
    Melissa Hammersley

    I’ve made this a couple of times.  It’s a hardy and yummy.  You can play with it by adding more vegetables.  
     I make something of yours at least twice a week. I love your books and follow you on Instagram.   You’ve helped me lose 30 lbs!  Thank you Gina!

  2. It always amazes me how just a few simple ingredients come together to make such a delicious soup but they do… You really nailed it with this recipe! It’s a family favorite on regular rotation in the meal plan. 

  3. Great soup, great site. Made this multiple times. Only changes I added more 1.5x veg to make it a bit chunkier. All else exact. Thanks Gina!

  4. Love this recipe and it freezes well! One of my go-to soups on a rainy, chilly day or if someone is not feeling well. I have used boneless chicken breasts and/or thighs as well as bone in and all work fine. Winner!