Chicken Barley Soup is a soul-warming, robust dish that marries the wholesome goodness of tender chicken with the earthy richness of pearl barley. This lengthy recipe ensures a depth of flavor that develops over time, creating a comforting bowl of nourishment. The process begins by browning a whole chicken, allowing it to soak up a medley of spices and aromatics. As the pot simmers, the vegetables—carrots, celery, onion, parsnip, and leek—meld together, infusing the broth with their distinct essences. The addition of pearl barley not only contributes a delightful chewiness but also transforms the soup into a hearty, satisfying meal.

Herbs like thyme and rosemary join the symphony of flavors, enhancing the soup’s aromatic profile. The slow simmering process allows the ingredients to harmonize, creating a broth that’s both savory and comforting. The chicken, having imparted its essence to the liquid, is carefully shredded and reintroduced into the pot, imparting a rich and meaty depth to every spoonful. The final touch of fresh parsley adds a burst of brightness, visually and flavor-wise.

Serving this Chicken Barley Soup is an experience in warmth and nourishment, offering a sensory journey through layers of tastes and textures. Each spoonful delivers a comforting embrace, making this lengthy preparation time well worth the effort for those seeking a bowl of homemade goodness that soothes the soul and satisfies the palate. Whether enjoyed on a chilly evening or as a remedy for the common cold, this Chicken Barley Soup stands as a testament to the beauty found in the slow, deliberate art of culinary creation.

Chicken Barley Soup


  • 1 whole chicken, about 4-5 pounds
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Fresh parsley for garnish


  1. Prepare the Chicken:
    • Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels.
    • Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
    • In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Brown the chicken on all sides until golden brown.
    • Remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside.
  2. Saute Vegetables:
    • In the same pot, add more olive oil if needed. Saute the onions, garlic, carrots, celery, parsnip, and leek until the vegetables are softened.
  3. Add Barley and Herbs:
    • Stir in the pearl barley, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  4. Combine Ingredients:
    • Place the browned chicken back into the pot.
    • Add the chopped tomatoes and pour in the chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  5. Simmer:
    • Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the chicken is tender and falling off the bones.
  6. Remove Chicken:
    • Carefully remove the chicken from the pot. Once it’s cool enough to handle, shred the meat and discard the bones.
  7. Finish Soup:
    • Return the shredded chicken to the pot and continue simmering for an additional 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  8. Adjust Seasoning:
    • Season the soup with salt and pepper according to your taste.
  9. Serve:
    • Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley.