Chicken Barley Soup

Chicken Barley Soup

Do you share my inability to throw away the remains of a roast chicken? My sister and I have a near compulsion to turn leftover chicken and turkey bones into soup, a handy trait inherited from our Mom. Having chicken soup stockpiles in the freezer was so helpful when I’ve been terribly sick with this flu. My recipe for chicken soup takes two days, with minimal effort.

Chicken Barley Soup

Makes 8 servings

Step 1: Broth
1 leftover roast chicken, with a small amount of meat still on the bones. I like the Whole Foods roast chickens best.
2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
1/2 of an onion
1/2 a head of garlic
1 bay leaf

Remove most of the skin from the chicken and any ties. In a large pot, top the chicken and vegetables with water. Heat on high until boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours, or until the chicken is falling apart.  A crock pot would probably work well for this.

Refrigerate the boiled mixture in the pan overnight. When you’re ready to finish the soup, skim off any congealed fat from the top of the broth and heat back up on the stove until just warm.

Strain the broth through a colander over a large bowl. Pour the broth back in the pan and put the bowl back under the strainer. Pick out the remaining good chicken meat from the boiled material and add it to the broth in the pan. When you’ve found all the meat, throw away the boiled bones and vegetables. Pour the remaining broth from the bowl under the strainer into the pan.

Step 2: Soup
1 package of 10-minute barley from Trader Joe’s
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1/3 of an onion, diced
Chicken broth and meat, around 8 cups
Salt and pepper

Boil water for the barley in a separate pan and cook 10-15 minutes according to the directions. You can also use rice, wild rice, farro, quinoa, lentils, Israeli couscous, etc. cooked separately and rinsed well before adding it to your soup.

Cook the diced vegetables in the broth with the meat while the barley boils separately. Rinse the barley well when done and add it to the soup. Optionally, add a drained can of white or black beans to the mix at this stage. If you’re freezing the soup, remember that the vegetables don’t need to be well done at this point because it will be reheated before served.

Season to taste. You will likely only need a small amount of salt because most roast chickens are heavily seasoned. I also like to add a dash of chili powder or sriracha. Freeze in individual portions for bad days when you or someone you know is sick.

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There are 3 comments for this article
  1. mamacita at 9:59 am

    I've heard that if you put a little acid in the stock (halved lemons, a glug of apple cider vinegar, etc.) you will leach more collagen out of the bones, which has healing properties. I do this, and I've never noticed an acid taste or anything. A slow cooker does work for this, but a pressure cooker does it much better.

    Something to consider for next time! I'm glad you're on the mend.

  2. mrsem Author at 6:27 pm

    Yum! I do sometimes include lemon, but not until after the soup is almost finished. I'll try including it in the boil process next time!