We’re lightening up the classic barley soup and boosting its nutritional profile! Traditionally made with beef, we decided to use chicken instead and load it up with lots of veggies. Barley is a fibre-rich ancient grain with many health benefits. It has a chewy texture, nutty taste and together with the chicken and vegetables, creates a soup jam-packed with nutrients. Nourishing, hearty and warming with a touch of creaminess from the zucchini. This one-pot dinner option is not only super filling, satiating us all evening long, but it can also make a lots of leftovers for the week.
Chicken, Barley & Vegetable Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 medium carrots, sliced
- 1 rib of celery, sliced
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced
- 3 litres of water, plus 3 cups
- 2 large, or 4 small, chicken thighs, skin on (optional) and bone in
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon sea salt, plus 1 teaspoon
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
In a large soup pot heat the olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic over medium heat for one minute. Add in the carrots, celery and zucchini and cook for a few minutes until softened. Add 3 litres of the water and season with 1 tablespoon of the salt, turmeric, bay leaves, and oregano. Bring everything to a boil and add the chicken. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover the pot, but leaving it only slightly uncovered. Simmer for one hour.
In the meantime, in a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, add the rinsed barley, with 3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until the water is absorbed into barley, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and set the pot aside.
Once soup has simmered for one hour, remove the bay leaves and chicken pieces. Place the chicken in a plate and set aside to cool down. If too much water has evaporated, add up to two more cups (taste and season with more salt). Add the spinach and stir. Remove/shred the chicken meat from the bone, by hand or with a fork, and toss the meat into soup. Add the desired amount of barley to the soup (any remaining barley can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days), and serve.
Leftover soup can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen in batches to provide a quick future lunch or dinner solution.