Chicken Barley Soup

Quick and easy weeknight soup
45 minutes Total Time
20 minutes to prep
25 minutes to cook
4 servings
This is the chicken soup recipe I make most often. It is simple and nutritious. We have come to prefer the barley to noodles because they have more chew to them. When I am using chicken breasts for other recipes, I will often have scraps from trimming. I cut those into small bite-size pieces for this soup and save them in the freezer for later. I will also often cut up the vegetables the night before. Making the soup then becomes a simple matter of adding things to the pot as needed, and occasionally stirring.
I really like this soup with spinach, but my picky eater does not. I put spinach in my bowl and the heat from the soup will wilt the spinach.



  • Gather and prep ingredients.
    Step 0
  • Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add carrots, celery, and onion. Cook until onions are softened, 5-8 minutes, depending on how finely you diced the vegetables.
    Step 1
  • Add the chicken, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. The chicken should start to lose its pink on the edges.
    Step 2
  • Add broth and bring to a vigorous simmer.
    Step 3
  • Add quick barley and stir. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until barley is tender, 10–12 minutes. Stir occasionally.
    Step 4
  • Add torn spinach leaves to the bowls of eaters who want spinach. If everyone eating the soup wants spinach, you can just put the spinach in the pot and stir to wilt.
    Step 5
  • Ladle soup into bowls and serve.
    Step 6
  • Leftovers are good for several days. The barley will swell with broth, so you may want to add more broth and water when serving leftovers. Reheating in a pan works better than a microwave.
    Step 7

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