Chicken Barley Soup

Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
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!

chicken barley soup overhead in grey dutch oven on white background
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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

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 11 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 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 10 mins
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. Erin says

    Love this recipe! It’s so simple and delicious. I’ve made this a few times and enjoy each time. I tend to use buckwheat groats in place of the barley and add more broth as needed.

  2. Jenny says

    made this for lunch today on a stormy and chilly FL afternoon and it was delicious! i have no idea how it’s so flavorful with just S&P as the seasoning. i almost added some other spices because i thought it was going to turn out bland. i decided to go with the recipe as written, based on what other reviews mentioned and so glad i did! it didn’t need anything else in terms of seasoning. it comes out almost creamy, which was surprising since there’s no cream added.

    only change i made was i used 8 cups of broth, but i like a more brothy soup. i’ll definitely be making this again and again! thanks for the recipe!

  3. Alessandra says

    Made this a few times with fresh bread and we love it! I do use about 8 cups of broth though.
    Would the cooking time be different if I swap wild rice for the barley?

  4. Crissy says

    This was delicious! I added garlic and some dried parsley. 5 cups of broth was nowhere near enough liquid, I added 8 cups and still needed to add about 2 cups of water! I also used shredded rotisserie chicken. Perfect!

  5. Karen Chaney says

    OMG! I Have made many chicken soups, and this by far is the easiest,
    and , the best, for fewest ingredients used! When I read the recipe, I thought, well I’ll just add herbs as needed, as I love herbs. Once I tasted it, I honestly couldn’t believe it! You were right, it was just fantastic, as is!

  6. Kelly says

    This was so good- a delicious creamy change from chicken noodle. I did add a small bay leaf and a sprinkle of thyme. I made it the crockpot and it wasn’t as brothy as the photo, but it was scrumptious and filling! Very flavorful after sautéing the veggies. A keeper 100%

  7. Karen MacDonald says

    Made it for supper tonight. It was very good!! I also had a crusty loaf of bread that I made in a Dutch oven yesterday. I do think that next time I’m going to add some crimini mushrooms and another couple cups of stock. 👍👍

  8. Kerry Hofer says

    This is crazy good and so simple. Followed exactly except added an extra cup or so of broth. Thanks for sharing!

    • Ashley Fehr says

      I haven’t but I think it would work well! If you’re using white basmati, you may find it cooks more quickly than the barley. Brown basmati may require a similar cook time

  9. Sheryl Evans says

    If I make this in the instant pot how long should I cook it on high for the barley to cook all the way?

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Hi Sheryl! I actually haven’t cooked any barley in the instant pot yet so I’m not sure one exact cook time. Some sites say 25 minutes, but that is way too long for the chicken and vegetables, so you almost have to cook the barley first, then add in the rest.

  10. Tracey South says

    Tried this recipe last night and it was delicious. I did add a teaspoon of minced garlic to the vegetables after they were sauted but other than that I did recipe as written. Yummo

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