Chicken Barley Soup

Total Time

Prep: 35 min. + cooling Cook: 1 hour


5 servings

Updated: Jun. 30, 2023
No question—this is my favorite barley soup! It's so filling that I serve it as a hearty main dish, and I have given the recipe to many of our friends and relatives. It simply tastes too good to keep to yourself! —Diana Costello, Marion, Kansas


  • 1 broiler/fryer chicken (2 to 3 pounds), cut up
  • 8 cups water
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup medium pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 teaspoon salt, optional
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage


  1. In a large stockpot, cook chicken in water until tender. Cool broth and skim off fat. Set chicken aside until cool enough to handle. Remove meat from bones; discard bones and cut meat into cubes. Return meat to pan along with remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 1 hour or until vegetables and barley are tender. Discard bay leaf.

Chicken Barley Soup Tips

Do you soak barley before cooking?

For this recipe, you do not need to presoak your barley; it will cook and expand sufficiently within the soup. But it’s largely a matter of personal preference. Pre-soaking barley breaks down harder-to-digest proteins in grains (such as gluten) and produces a less chewy texture.

What kind of barley do you use for soup?

You will often discover that pearl barley is used in soups, as it cooks faster than grains such as pot barley, which is less processed and takes longer preparation and cooking time. Check out this article on cooking whole grains, including barley.

How can you thicken barley soup?

To thicken barley soup that is too thin, you can make a beurre manie, which is softened butter mixed with an equal number of tablespoons flour. Mix it in a small bowl with a fork, then stir gently into your soup as it heats. You can also make a slurry with equal parts cornstarch and water. Pour it in the pot and whisk continuously over high heat until the soup starts to thicken. Learn more about thickening sauces and soups. Research contributed by Mark Neufang, Taste of Home Culinary Assistant

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 259 calories, 5g fat (0 saturated fat), 89mg cholesterol, 127mg sodium, 22g carbohydrate (0 sugars, 0 fiber), 31g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2-1/2 lean meat, 1 starch, 1 vegetable.