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Homemade Chicken Barley Soup

Chicken barley soup is so easy to make from scratch and full of delicious vegetables like carrots, celery and barley! No matter if it’s snowing, raining or if the temps are just sitting low, a yummy homemade soup makes all the difference! Let’s dive into making this scrumptious chicken barley soup recipe!

My smoked chicken recipe will give you an amazing flavour boost to use as a base for your soup stock recipe. However, any leftover chicken carcass or supermarket rotisserie chicken will do! It also makes enough to have meals for a few days which is always a bonus too!

I love to make this for my kiddos when they are not feeling well as it always seems to help make them feel better! I hope you enjoy this easy, yummy homemade chicken barley soup recipe.

chicken barley soup with carrots in a white bowl

From Scratch Soup

This soup can be made using pre-made chicken broth, however, I love to make my own soup broth using the leftovers from a chicken we have already had for dinner the night before. This recipe is easily customizable and can be made on the stovetop, in a dutch oven or with a crockpot. I have even made it in an old fashion terracotta roaster before.

Adding Barley To Soup

Barley is so easy to add to your chicken soup because you don’t have to cook it ahead of time. In fact, if you decide to add cooked barley to your soup, it may be a bit thicker than

Benefits of Barley in Chicken Soup

Adding barley to chicken broth is much healthier than traditional chicken noodle soup. Pearl barley is the recommended variety to use in this soup and it is full of fibre, which can help with weight loss and digestion. Barley also contains some calcium and other proteins, vitamins and minerals.

If you are looking for a gluten-free option, you can always switch out the barley for brown rice instead.

supplies for chicken barley soup

Variations on Chicken Barley Soup

There are many different variations you can choose from for this soup. A few of the key changes you can make are:

Spices and Vegetables

Fresh herbs and spices are amazing in this soup. Try adding thyme or fresh sage to the simmering soup for a slightly different taste experience.

Spice it Up

If you like a little spice in your life, add a dash of hot sauce , Sriracha or even some Tabasco sauce. The added heat is delicious in this soup.

Make It Creamy

If you love a creamy warm soup that is good for the soul, add a cup of cream to the soup!

Change The Chicken

This soup is so versatile and can be made a million different ways. Try switching out the chicken for beef, pork or even shrimp and seafood.

Let it be Vegetarian

Sub out the chicken for mushrooms and chicken broth for vegetable stock for an amazing vegan version of this soup.

chicken broth in a pot with onions

Chicken Barley Soup In The CrockPot or Slow Cooker

This recipe is perfect for a CrockPot or Slow Cooker too. After you have made your broth, simply toss all the ingredients into your slow cooker and allow your soup to cook until the barley and vegetables are tender. You may need to cook this for 5-7 hours depending on how warm your CrockPot gets and how full it is.

A big flavor boost and the best results come from sautéing the vegetables in oil ahead of time so you will need to decide if you want to do this in the CrockPot or not.

How to Make Chicken Barley Soup

Equipment Required

  • Stock Pot: A quality stock pot is the most important tool when cooking your soup.
  • Chef’s Knife: Every good cook knows a quality chef’s knife is a required tool in the kitchen.
  • Cutting Board: Save those counters and your knife set and use a good cutting board.

Ingredients for Chicken Barley Soup

cut carrots, celery, barley and shredded chicken for making soup

Chicken Broth Ingredients

  • 1 whole roasted chicken, shred and remove the meat.
  • ​1 large onion, halved.
  • 6 cups water to cover (or 5 cups of pre-made chicken broth)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp dried rosemary 
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp dried savory spice (optional)

Barley Soup Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp of oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 carrots, cut into bite size pieces.
  • 4 stalks of celery, cut into bite size pieces.
  • 1 1/2 Cups Barley, Pearl or Pot barley is best.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions for Making Chicken Barley Soup

Step #1 Remove the chicken meat from the bones.

Step #2 Place the leftover bones in a large stock pot with half the onion, rosemary, oregano, savory spice and salt and pepper. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 4-6 hours.

chicken broth in a pot with bones and onions

Step #3 Remove the bones from the chicken broth and discard.

Step #4 In a separate stock pot, add oil and vegetables. Sauté the vegetables until the onion is translucent. Browning the vegetables ahead of time should give your soup a ton of flavor.

Step #5 Add the soup stock, remaining ingredients and chicken meat to the pot. The stock should deglaze the pot and pick up all the extra flavor from the little brown bits left at the bottom, giving the soup much more delicious flavor.

Step #6 Simmer for 30 minutes or until the barley and rice are soft. 

Step #7 Serve and Enjoy!

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Tips for Making Chicken Barley Soup

  • Barley expands as it cools! Therefore, if you are making this soup knowing you will use it for leftovers, you may want to reduce the amount of barley by half.
  • You may want to skip the steps for making your own broth from scratch. If so, add 5 cups of pre-made chicken broth to the pot instead.
  • Be sure to RINSE your barley prior to adding it to your soup. This will help to prevent it from becoming slimy, and get rid of any leftover dust that is on it.

How to Freeze and Store Chicken Barley Soup

The best part about making this soup is having leftovers for a few days! Simply store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Reheat in the microwave, stovetop, Crockpot or even in the oven.

Freezing chicken barley soup is easy to do. Store in individual size containers or one big container and pop in the deep freeze for up to 3 months. When you are ready to eat it, let the soup thaw out in the refrigerator and then reheat on the stovetop, microwave, Crockpot or oven.

Make sure to label it with a date to be sure you know how long it has been in the freezer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you cook barley before adding it to soup?

No. You DO want to rinse the barley with water prior to cooking it, however. This is simply to remove any dust or particles left on it. After it is rinsed, toss it straight into the pot.

Can you freeze the soup?

Absolutely. Simply store the soup in individual-sized containers and pop it in the freezer for up to three months. Be sure to label your stored soup with a date so you know how long it has been frozen. If you are planning to use this soup for leftovers, you may want to reduce the amount of barley by half as it expands as it cools. Otherwise, your soup may turn into stew.

Why is my barley soup slimy?

Barley is very high in starch, which can make it go slimy when it is cooked in too much liquid. To prevent your barley from doing this, make sure to rinse it very well with water prior to cooking it.

delicious chicken barley soup in a bowl

Other Chicken Recipes

Please let me know if you try this recipe in the comments below! I would love to hear what you thought of it! If you make a similar one or a slightly different version, I would love to hear that too! There is nothing better than a homemade soup recipe so make sure you also try my from-scratch smoked tomato soup recipe!

Check out our friend Nancy’s Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup) too.

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chicken barley soup in a white bowl on a vintage cutting board
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Best Ever Chicken Barley Soup From Scratch

Chicken barley soup so easy to make from scratch and full of delicious vegetables like carrots, celery and barley!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
1 hr
Total Time4 hrs 20 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: barley soup, chicken barley soup, easy chicken recipe, how to make chicken barley soup, soup
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 204kcal
Cost: 20

Ingredients

Chicken Broth Ingredients

  • 1 Whole Roasted Chicken Shred and remove the meat.​
  • 1/2 cup Onion Diced
  • 8 cups Water or 7 cups of Pre-Made Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 tbsp Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp Dried Rosemary 
  • 1/2 tbsp Dried oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp Dried Savory Spice (optional)

Chicken Barley Soup Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Oil
  • 1/4 cup Onion
  • 1 cup Carrots, cut into bite-size pieces.
  • 1 cup 4 stalks of celery, cut into bite-size pieces. cut into bite-size pieces.
  • 1 1/2 cups Barley, Pearl or Pot barley is best.
  • 1 tbsp Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

Chicken Broth Instructions

  • Remove the chicken meat from the bones.
  • Place the leftover bones in a large stock pot with half the onion, rosemary, oregano, savory spice and salt and pepper.
  • Cover with water and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 4-6 hours.
  • Remove the bones from the chicken broth and discard.

Chicken Barley Soup Instructions

  • In a separate stock pot, add oil and vegetables. Sauté the vegetables until the onion is translucent. Browning the vegetables ahead of time should give your soup a ton of flavor.
  • Add the soup stock, remaining ingredients and chicken meat to the pot. The stock should deglaze the pot and pick up all the extra flavor from the little brown bits left at the bottom, giving the soup a much more delicious flavor.
  • Simmer for 30 minutes or until the barley and rice are soft. 
  • Serve and Enjoy!

Notes

  • Barley expands as it cools! Therefore, if you are making this soup knowing you will use it for leftovers, you may want to reduce the amount of barley by half.
  • You may want to skip the steps for making your own broth from scratch. If so, add 5 cups of pre-made chicken broth to the pot instead.
  • Be sure to RINSE your barley prior to adding it to your soup. This will help to prevent it from becoming slimy, and get rid of any leftover dust that is on it.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 204kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 1285mg | Potassium: 413mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1874IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 2mg

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