Chicken Barley Soup
Chicken Barley Soup can also be made with leftover turkey, and this soup is surprisingly low in net carbs for a soup with barley! You can also replace barley with cauliflower rice for a soup that’s even lower in carbs and gluten-free.
This Chicken Barley Soup that can also be made with leftover turkey is just the kind of soup I love to make on the stove, where it simmers and fills the house with good smells. This recipe is also great to make when you don’t have leftover chicken or turkey because you can start with a couple of chicken breasts, an onion, some carrots, some celery, and some barley and a little over an hour later you have a delicious soup.
Don’t be tempted to increase the amount of barley. If you haven’t cooked with barley that much, you’ll be surprised how much it increases. Barley has a delightfully nutty flavor that I think combines perfectly with chicken or turkey, and this soup doesn’t use a lot of barley so it’s also surprisingly low in net carbs! But see tips in the recipe if you need a version that’s gluten-free or even lower in carbs.
What ingredients do you need?
- cooked chicken or turkey
- canned chicken broth (affiliate link) or turkey broth (or homemade chicken stock or homemade turkey stock would be great)
- Better than Bouillon Organic Vegetable Base (affiliate link)
- Dried Thyme (affiliate link) or slightly less ground thyme if you have it
- Poultry Seasoning (affiliate link)
- Dried Parsley (affiliate link)
- pearl barley (affiliate link) or frozen cauliflower rice for gluten-free and lower-carb version
- fresh ground black pepper to taste, salt if desired
What is Barley?
Barley is a type of ancient grain that’s tasty and high in fiber. It has a slightly nutty taste and chewy texture.
Is Barley Gluten-Free?
Barley is not gluten-free and it should be avoided by people who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
How can you make this soup lower in carbs and gluten-free?
Barley does have fiber, so if you check the net carbs I bet Chicken Barley Soup is lower in carbs than you think. But if you’d like to make a version that’s even lower in carbs and also gluten-free, just replace the barley with about 1 1/2 cups of frozen cauliflower rice.
Want more Turkey Soup Recipes?
How to Make Chicken Barley Soup (or Turkey Barley Soup):
(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)
- I simmered two chicken breasts in water with a little chicken soup base to get the chicken, but use leftover diced chicken or turkey if you have some.
- While the chicken cooks, combine the chicken broth or turkey broth (or homemade stock), water, vegetable bouillon, dried thyme, Poultry Seasoning, and dried parsley and let it simmer while you prep other ingredients.
- Chop up an onion and a cup of finely chopped celery and add it to the simmering soup pot.
- Then slice the carrots and add them to the soup with 1/2 cup of pearl barley and continue simmering. (Don’t add the cauliflower rice yet if you’re using that)
- When it is cool enough to handle, chop up the chicken (or use 2 cups diced leftover chicken or leftover turkey if you prefer.)
- When the barley is nearly tender, add the chicken or turkey (and frozen cauliflower rice, if using) and continue cooking until the barley is as tender as you’d like it.
- I cooked the soup at a very low simmer for about an hour and 15 minutes total.
- Don’t add the chicken or turkey too soon or it will string apart in the soup.
- Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste and serve hot.
More Tasty Soups with Chicken or Turkey:
- Chicken Soup with Collards and Lemon
- Low-Carb Turkey Soup with Zucchini Noodles
- Chicken Tomatillo Soup
- Instant Pot Turkey Rice Soup with Cabbage
- Slow Cooker Turkey Soup with Spinach and Lemon
Weekend Food Prep:
This Chicken Barley Soup recipe has been added to a new category called Weekend Food Prep to help you find recipes you can prep or cook on the weekend and eat during the week!
- 2 or 3 cups diced cooked chicken or turkey (see notes)
- 8 cups chicken or turkey broth (see notes)
- 2 cups water (plus more if needed)
- 2 T Better Than Bouillon Organic Vegetable Base (see notes)
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. poultry seasoning
- 1 T dried parsley
- 1 large onion, chopped small
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup sliced or diced carrots
- 1/2 cup pearl barley
- fresh ground black pepper to taste, salt if desired
- If you don’t have leftover chicken or turkey, put two large chicken breasts in a small saucepan with some water and a little bit of Better than Bouillon Roasted Chicken Base (affiliate link) and simmer over very low heat about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is barely done.
- Let chicken cool, then dice into small pieces.
- In a large stock pot, combine chicken or turkey stock (or canned chicken broth), water, vegetable soup base, dried thyme, poultry seasoning (affiliate link), and dried parsley.
- Simmer 15 minutes while you chop veggies and chicken.
- After 15 minutes, add chopped onion, chopped celery, sliced carrots, and barley. (See notes if you want a soup that's lower in carbs and gluten-free.)
- Start to simmer, and when the barley is nearly done (about 45 minutes) add the diced chicken. (Add the cauliflower rice now too if you're making that version.)
- You may want to add a cup or so of water if the soup reduces too much.
- When the barley is done to your liking, season the soup with fresh ground black pepper and salt to taste, and serve hot. (Be sure to taste before adding salt if using canned chicken stock, which can be rather salty.)
Nutritional information is for the soup made with barley.
If you're cooking chicken breasts, use 2 boneless-skinless chicken breasts.
You can use chicken broth in a can or a carton if you don't have homemade chicken stock.
Better than Bouillon Organic Vegetable Base (affiliate link) is optional, but recommended for best flavor, other types of veggie stock cubes can be used.
To make a version of this soup that's lower in carbs and gluten-free, switch out the barley for 1 1/2 cups frozen cauliflower rice.
Recipe created by Kalyn.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 585Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 238mgSodium: 840mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 62g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.
Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
You might think that soup with barley isn’t suitable for low-carb diets, but this soup doesn’t use a lot of barley and barley has fiber, so this is probably lower in net carbs than you think. If you want to make a similar soup that’s even lower in carbs and also gluten-free, see notes in the recipe to replace the barley frozen cauliflower rice.This Chicken Barley Soup is a great meal for phase two or three of the original South Beach Diet. You could make the same soup with brown rice, or wild rice, which would still be great for South Beach and also gluten-free.
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Soup Recipes to find more recipes like this one. Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest, on Facebook, on Instagram, on TikTok, or on YouTube to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.
Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This recipe was first posted in 2006! The photos were updated in 2012 and the recipe was last updated with more information and the option for using cauliflower rice in 2022.