Chicken Barley Soup

This chicken barley soup is cozy, warming and simply bursting with flavor. It’s also super easy to make with wholesome and nutritious ingredients, just perfect for chilly days or when you’re feeling a bit under the weather.

I’m one of those people who love chicken soup in all forms and enjoy it all the time, not just when fighting a cold.

I have shared many chicken soup recipes on the blog over the years, from this amazing Greek avgolemono to this delicious Instant Pot creamy chicken recipe.

However, this chicken barley soup has become a firm favorite in our home. That’s because making soup with pearl barley results in a heartier, more robust dish.
Pearl barley has a distinct chewy texture and maintains its structure better than rice in soups. It’s also an excellent source of dietary fiber and a nutty, earthy flavor that adds depth to soups.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2-3 celery stalks, diced
1 medium leek (white and light green parts only), sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 cup (175 g) pearl barley, rinsed
2 chicken breasts (about 1 lb / 450 g total)
2 bay leaves
6 cups (1.5 liters) chicken stock
1 handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and leek, and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender.
Stir in the fresh thyme and rosemary and continue to cook for another minute.
Next, add the pearl barley and stir to combine with the vegetables and herbs.
Place the chicken breasts on top of the vegetables and barley, and add the bay leaves.
Pour in the chicken stock, and stir gently.
Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer, covered, for about 45-50 minutes, or until the barley is tender and the chicken is cooked through.
Remove the chicken breasts from the pot and shred them into bite-sized pieces using two forks.
Return the shredded chicken to the pot, and stir in the fresh parsley.
Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Taste the soup and add salt and freshly ground black pepper if you like.

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