Chicken Barley Soup

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 servings

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This Chicken Barley Soup is hearty, healthy and made with 6 ingredients! Easily customizable and you can make it stovetop or slow cooker!

Love chicken soup recipes? Try this Chicken Pot Pie Soup, this Chicken Gnocchi Soup or this Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup next!

chicken barley soup overhead in grey dutch oven on white background

February is soup month here on The Recipe Rebel (and over on YouTube with my new 6 Ingredient Suppers series), and I’m so excited to be adding this hearty Chicken Barley Soup to the family!

I know Beef Barley Soup is generally more popular, but there’s no reason this Chicken Barley Soup shouldn’t share some of the spotlight.

It’s got tons of flavor and is made with just SIX ingredients (plus, I’ve included lots of ways for you to make it your own down below).

The prep is minimal, the ingredients are all good for you, and it is seriously comforting on a warm day (just don’t forget my big chunk of bread!).

How to make Chicken Barley Soup:

  1. We start our veggies off in some oil to give them a head start — I find if I throw raw onion into something like a soup, I’m eating crunchy bits of onion in my soup and the browning of the onions adds a ton of flavor! (*If you prefer to brown your chicken here you can, but I actually prefer to just simmer them right in the broth and then shred).
  2. Add our broth and deglaze our pot — this picks up all of those lovely bits of browned goodness off the bottom and adds it to our base.
  3. Add our chicken, barley and season — then let it simmer until everything is tender.
  4. Remove your chicken breasts and shred, then stir back into the soup and serve (once again, don’t forget the crusty bread 😉 )
chicken barley soup close up in white bowl with blue rim
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Variations on this Chicken Barley Soup:

  • Add in extra herbs and spices: with 6 ingredient soup recipes, our goal is to maximize flavor found in just a couple ingredients. In this soup recipe, we use a full-bodied chicken broth and our vegetables to add most of the flavor. However, I’m never going to tell you you can’t add in extra herbs and spices! Feel free to choose a couple from your spice drawer if you find your chicken broth is not as flavorful as you would like.
  • Veggies: swap out the vegetables for your favorites, or add in extra!
  • Make it vegetarian: swap the chicken broth for vegetable and the chicken for mushrooms — be sure to saute the mushrooms with the onions.
  • Make it thick and creamy: Add in a 1/2-1 cup of cream mixed with 1-2 tablespoons of corn starch for a thick and creamy soup
  • Swap the chicken for cooked ground beef, smoked sausage or add in cooked, chopped bacon for a fresh take.

How to make Chicken Barley Soup in the crockpot:

To make this Chicken Barley Soup in the crockpot, you can simply throw all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low until the barley and vegetables are tender, then shred the chicken.

This can take anywhere from 5-7 hours depending on how hot and how full your slow cooker is.

The best results will still come from sautéing the vegetables in some oil before adding to the crockpot, but I know that there are people (like me!) who hate the idea of using a bunch of extra pots.

You decide which is more important to you — a better developed flavor, or fewer pots and pans 😉

chicken barley soup two bowls with blue rim on white marble background

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Chicken Barley Soup

5 from 50 votes
This Chicken Barley Soup is hearty, healthy and made with 6 ingredients! Easily customizable and you can make it stovetop or slow cooker!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Main Course, Soup
Servings 4 servings
Calories 352.06cal


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 large carrots peeled and chopped
  • 2 ribs celery finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion finely chopped
  • 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 chicken breasts (about 300g total)
  • 2/3 cup pearl or pot barley rinsed (120g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  • In a large dutch oven or soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add carrots, celery and onion and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add broth, chicken breasts (raw and whole), barley, salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until barley is tender, about 45-60 minutes.
  • Remove chicken from pot and shred with two forks. Add back into soup, taste, and adjust salt and pepper to your preferences.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 352.06cal | Carbohydrates: 35.79g | Protein: 33.92g | Fat: 8.75g | Saturated Fat: 1.54g | Cholesterol: 72.32mg | Sodium: 561.41mg | Potassium: 983.61mg | Fiber: 7.04g | Sugar: 3.76g | Vitamin A: 7766.69IU | Vitamin C: 5.69mg | Calcium: 53.38mg | Iron: 2.01mg
Keywords chicken barley soup, chicken soup

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Reader Interactions


  1. Lolli says

    This recipe is delicious! I searched for barley recipes and found this keeper! I used all of the same ingredients with the addition of lots of different spices, a bay leaf and minced garlic. I also used 8 cups chicken broth to make it more soupy because it was pretty thick with the barley.
    So, so yummy! Thank you!

  2. Julie says

    I made this recipe EXACTLY as written (stovetop version) and it is SO GOOD! Hearty, healthy, and my young children loved it as much as I did. I will definitely make this again. Thank you, Ashley!

  3. Pam says

    This soup is fabulous!! I am questioning the potassium level, I don’t see where the high level is coming from?

    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Pam! So glad you enjoy it. I have no idea about the nutritional information. That is a calculated by the recipe card and not something that I manually do. You could double check with a free tool online or with a registered dietitian or nutritionist. Enjoy!

  4. Alexandra Bowlen says

    Thank you for this recipe! I don’t usually leave comments, but I loved how simple it was to put together and yet still packed with flavor!

  5. Sandy M - Riverside says

    Just made this in my Instant Pot minus most of the onion. I used quick barley and Oh My Gosh it is sooo Good! Thank you for the easy recipe!

    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Sandy! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review and feedback on using the instant pot!

  6. Madeleine says

    Dear Ashley,
    Thank you for this recipe. It is so tasty . I am just about to put it in my soup recipe binder 🙂

5 from 50 votes (32 ratings without comment)

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