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
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5 from 40 votes
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Chicken Barley Soup

262 Cals 31 Protein 24 Carbs 4 Fats
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 1 hr 5 mins
Yield: 6
CUISINE: American
As the days get colder, warm up with a bowl of Chicken and Barley Soup, made with carrots, onions, celery, chicken breasts, and barley.


  • 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.


Serving: 11/2 cups, Calories: 262kcal, Carbohydrates: 24g, Protein: 31g, Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 83mg, Sodium: 744mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 2g
WW Points Plus: 6
Keywords: barley, chicken and vegetable soup, chicken barley soup, hearty chicken soup


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  1. Hello Gina! This soup was delicious. I was looking for something to use besides noodles, and this was perfect! Also, I love your cookbook (The Skinny Taste Cookbook)!! Tonight I’m making the Naked Persian Turkey Burgers. Yum yum yum!!

  2. I’d love to know if we could cook this in the instant pot? If so what would the suggested time and instructions be?

  3. This was sooo good! A welcome change from chicken soup with noodles or rice.
    I used low sodium broth and it was just righy.

  4. Such a good recipe! I added diced tomatoes, thyme, and paprika. Gave it a little kick and turned out great! 

  5. I used this recipe as a base to make more of a stew. I used a 300grams of pot barley (higher fibre content) and just kept adding unsalted bone broth until it was cooked. In addition to the bay leaves, I put in a sprig of rosemary and thyme and also added some extra spices like turmeric, curry, cumin and a pinch of cajun spice rub and it was delicious. I easily got 20 servings and it lasted a week in my fridge. I just kept it in the fridge and added a bit of white cooking wine/broth to add back a bit of moisture. I’m making it again today.

  6. I loved it. I made it with rotisserie chicken and I didn’t have any parsley but it was delicious. I will double the recipe next time and I think I’m going to add turnip. 

  7. Love your recipes! Since I started watching calories I have made so many of your recipes and havent had a bad one yet. My family has also loved them

    Just wondering how long this soup will keep in the fridge without freezing? And also I was also told that barely doesn’t freeze well..

  8. is 744mg sodium per serving a misprint? Where does the salt come from

  9. Delicious! It’s become part of my rotation since I saw the recipe a while ago. I use rotisserie chicken and add parley and Sylvia’s secret seasoning. Yummy!

  10. This looks amazing! My daughter who is gluten free will be home in a few weeks and loves soups like this – but can’t have the barley. Any ideas for a substitute? Or would you just omit?

  11. Delicious!

  12. Excellent. Really flavorful. I added a touch or marjoram and thyme (my favorite in chicken soup). I used boneless thighs for more flavor and quicker cook time. Only simmered 15 minutes for the first round, then added the barley. Threw in green beans, spinach and green peas.

  13. That was excellent. I used Costco’s pulled rotisserie chicken and Quick Pearled Barley. Plus I have leftovers!

  14. Another winner of course. This soup is delicious and my 95 year old mother in law went bananas over it, ha! I made it a week ago and will make it again tomorrow. Thanks again Gina for another wonderful meal!

  15. Any tips on using leftover rotisserie chicken? Do I just add it in the last 15/20 minutes of cooking?

  16. Maybe a stupid question, do you cook the chicken before adding it to the soup? Thanks! Looks amazing!!

  17. Just made this soup in the crock pot following another person’s review and IT WAS DELICIOUS. Everyone loved it! I did not have bone-in chicken breast so I added 1 tsp of Better than Bouillon. I also added potatoes based on another review. Last weekend I made Gina’s Instant Pot Turkey Meatball and Ditalini soup which was a huge hit with the family and next weekend I already have plans to try her chicken noodle soup.

    Gina- your recipes are so delicious and healthy! Keep them coming!


    • Hi! For all those who requested how to make this soup in the Slowcooker, scroll down to Briana’s post… it looks like a good straightforward method. There are also several others who used the Slowcooker and gave directions. Looks like a wonderful soup, especially after the east coast blizzard yesterday, 1/29/22. I think today would be great, no matter what method you use. Thanks Gina!

  18. Oh my goodness this was good! Even my very picky son who HATES soup loved it! A bit of advice though.. don’t forget about it after you cook it the barley will expand! I cooked it in my instant pot and it only took me 16 minutes. DEFINITLY making this again 😊

  19. This soup is delicious and so satisfying. My husband and really enjoyed it.

  20. Update for those looking to make this in slow cooker- I added all ingredients to slow cooker (chicken first), cooked on LOW for 5 hours. Then added barley and cooked for another 2 hours, for a total of 7 hours. I also skipped out on the oil and added more seasonings. Came out amazing.