This comforting Chicken Barley Soup is easy to make even on the busiest weeknights, thanks to supermarket rotisserie chicken.
I recently bought a little bag of barley that I didn't have plans for. I bought it on a whim, and it sat in my pantry for several weeks. That's what happens when I buy things that are NOT on my grocery list.
But after having it stare down at me from it's spot on the front of the shelf it was sitting on, I decided to add it to some soup. Of course I first thought of Beef Barley soup, which is a classic.
But I didn't have beef. And I did have some leftover frozen rotisserie chicken. So Chicken and Barley Soup it was.
How to make Chicken Barley Soup
Making your own chicken barley soup is pretty much like making chicken noodle soup, but with barley instead of noodles. The result is a soup that is higher in fiber, with a little extra chewiness to it; thanks to the whole grains.
In this case, you only need one pot to cook your soup, as you don't need to cook the barley separately - you just throw it right in with the soup.
As an added weeknight-friendly bonus, this soup uses pre-cooked chicken to make it super quick to cook. I love to use rotisserie chicken because it's an easy and affordable option, but if you have leftover chicken you've cooked yourself, feel free to use that instead.
Note that there might be some variation in cooking time for this soup, depending on what kind of barley you have.
Some barley takes longer to cook than others. Mine was "Italian Barley", and its package instructed that I cook it for 12 minutes.
Some barley takes much longer to cook, so if you want a quick cooking soup, make sure you check the package instructions when you're choosing it at the grocery store.
Weeknight Chicken Barley Soup Ingredients:
- Rotisserie chicken: or any leftover cooked chicken
- Olive oil: or replace with your favorite neutral-flavored cooking oil or butter
- Medium onion: For even more of a time-saving bonus, use a frozen mirepoix blend (use approximately 2-4 cups of it, depending on how many veggies you like in your soup)
- Kosher salt: or use MSG-salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Dried thyme
- Chicken broth: my favorite is Better Than Bouillon, but you could use any brand, or homemade
- Barley: Make sure to check the package to see how long it needs to cook. Ensure to soak barley ahead of time if the package recommends doing so.
- Bay leaf
Want more Chicken Soup Recipes?
Weeknight Chicken Barley Soup Nutrition Notes:
The sodium content of this recipe will vary depending on what type of chicken broth you use. The calculations I made used homemade broth, which is what I used to make it.
If you use store-bought broth, choose a reduced- or low-sodium version to help keep the sodium content of this recipe down.
Weeknight Chicken Barley Soup
- Large Dutch oven or saucepan
- Remove all the meat from the rotisserie chicken and cut into bite sized pieces. Discard bones and skin, or save them for another use. Measure out 1 pound of the chicken to use in the soup (it will be about half of a large rotisserie chicken). Pack the remaining chicken in an airtight container or bag to refrigerate or freeze for another use.
- Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped carrots, celery, onion, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally until softened and just starting to brown. Stir in 1 clove garlic (minced), ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and ¼ teaspoon dried thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Slowly pour in 6 cups chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil. Add ⅔ cup barley and 1 bay leaf then reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 15-30 minutes until the barley is soft (see note)
- Stir in the 1 pound of rotisserie chicken and cook until the chicken is cooked through. Add additional salt and/or pepper to taste if needed.