Barley Chicken Soup

Healthy Balance Soup

Barley and Chicken Soup


The weather is starting to get cool here, which has me thinking about all those fall and winter comfort foods like chilis and stews.  But in Maryland, Mother Nature is fickle, so we still get that odd hot day.  This soup is great for that bridge between summer and fall.  It’s the fall soup you want, but a light broth full of summer vegetables.





Dish Type



1 hour, 15 minutes

  This recipe is

3 WW Freestyle Points                 

Dairy Free           Nut free              

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  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, divided
  • 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large bone-in chicken breast, (10-12 ounces), skin removed, trimmed
  • ⅓ cup pearl barley
  • 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup asparagus, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 cup peas (if frozen, thaw before cooking)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste


  • Heat oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Add onion and celery and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, 2 to 4 minutes.
  • Grate or finely chop 1 clove garlic; add to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add broth, chicken and barley. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  • Transfer the chicken to a plate with a slotted spoon. Return the broth to a simmer and cook until the barley is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, shred the chicken or cut into bite-size pieces; discard the bone.
  • When the barley is done, add the chicken, tomatoes and juice, asparagus, peas, salt and a grinding of pepper; return to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the asparagus is tender, about 5 minutes more.
Ingredients for Barley Chicken Soup: Celery, Onion, Garlic, Chicken, Barley, Chicken Broth, Tomatoes, Peas, and Asparagus
I love soup.  And I don’t make it enough.  I guess because for years soup was either something that came from a can that was probably just a quick lunch, or an appetizer when out to eat.  Really, who does appetizers at home?  But I don’t give soup enough credit.  They can be an incredibly versatile dish.  Light meal, full dinner, snack, or side dish, a soup can fit anywhere in your meal plan.


This soup takes over an hour, but most of that time is just allowing the chicken and barley to cook, and all the flavors to blend together.  Start by heating your oil over medium high heat in a large stockpot or Dutch oven.


Celery and Onion cooking in the Dutch oven.  Once celery and onion are soft, the garlic will be added.
Once the oil is hot, add the onion and celery.  Stir the vegetables until they begin to soften.  This will take between two and four minutes.  Once the celery and onion are a little soft, add your garlic to the pot.  Continue to stir as they cook.  Cook for about one minute.  The garlic will become very fragrant.


Broth and chicken have been added to the Dutch oven
Once the onion, celery, and garlic have begun to cook, add the chicken broth, chicken breast, and barley to the pot.  Bring the soup to a gentle simmer.  You will see some slight bubbling in the liquid as the soup warms, but do not bring it to a rapid simmer or a boil.  Once there is slight bubbling, cover the pot and lower the heat to low.  Allow the chicken to cook.  This will take about twenty minutes.


After twenty minutes, remove the chicken from the pot.  Replace the cover and put the heat up a bit until the soup once again reaches the light simmer.  Continue to cook the soup until the barely is tender.  Start checking after about twenty minutes, but could take as long as thirty.


Chicken breast, shredded and ready to go back in the pot once the barley is done.
While the barley continues to cook, pull the chicken meat from the bone.  After cooking in the broth, the chicken should be nice and tender.  Shred the chicken or cut it into bite sized pieces.  Discard the bone.


Chicken and remaining vegetables added to the pot.
When the barely is tender, return the chicken to the pot.  Add the tomatoes, asparagus, and peas.  Sprinkle the salt and pepper.  Stir the soup and return it once again to a simmer.  Cover the soup and cook over low heat until the asparagus is done.  The asparagus should take another 5 minutes or so, depending on how tender you like it.


When ready to serve, remove the pot from the heat.  You can either dish the soup into individual bowls, or serve straight out of your Dutch oven. 


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Nutritional Info for Barley Chicken soup, 13 grams fat, 28.5 grams carbohydrates, 7.5 grams fiber, 8.3 grams sugar, 72.3 grams protein

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  • Melissa on

    What a yummy sounding soup recipe!!! We love to make different soups all fall and winter since it gets so cold here, adding this to try!

  • Amy Chung on

    What a fantastic recipe! I love soups and I also love using barley in it. Gives it the added bulk for a meals on its own. Going to give this recipe a try!

  • Lesli Schwartz on

    Love that it’s now soup weather, even though it’s still so hot here! But, I do love a good barley soup so this will be on the list!

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