Slow Cooker Chicken Barley Soup
The best easy slow cooker chicken barley soup recipe, homemade with simple ingredients. Loaded with vegetables, rotisserie chicken, Italian seasoning. It’s hearty, healthy comfort food.
This soup is so easy, partly due to the use of rotisserie chicken, but it’s still loaded with flavor and bursting with nutritious ingredients. It is a staple in our meal planning during the colder months. The smell, warmth, and comfort from it cooking all day is irresistible! Slow Cooker Meatball Soup is another favorite this time of year, so make sure to try it as well.
How To Make Chicken Barley Soup Recipe From Scratch?
- Saute vegetables– This includes onion, garlic, carrots, celery.
- Add ingredients to crockpot- This includes the sauteed veggies, broth, tomato, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, bay leaf, barley.
- Mix– Until combined.
- Cover and cook– Until vegetables are tender and barley is cooked through.
- Mix in remaining ingredients- This includes corn, peas and rotisserie chicken.
- Cover and cook- Until vegetables are cooked through.
- Discard ingredients- This includes bay leaf.
- Enjoy– Garnish with fresh parsley and dig in.
What Sides To Serve With Chicken And Barley Soup?
This soup is hearty enough to serve on its own, but if you want to make this meal even more filling, here are some ideas:
- Grilled cheese sandwiches
- Dinner rolls
- Garlic bread
- Crusty bread like Ciabatta for dipping
Refrigerate– In a sealed container for up to 3 days.
Freeze– In a freezer safe container or bag for up to 2 months.
Reheat– From thawed, in the microwave or on the stovetop. You may need to add more broth because the barley will absorb much of the liquid.
Chicken and barley stew– This is different than soup because it’s thicker.
Add mushrooms- You can use mushrooms in place of the chicken if you want to keep the soup vegetarian. You can also just add them in the last 20-30 minutes of cooking in order to increase the heartiness of this soup. You can also just add a can of cream of mushroom soup.
Add lemon– Mix in freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest for a little tanginess at the end.
Add lentils– To make this soup even heartier! Any boiled lentils of your choice can be used.
Add other cooked meats– Such as bacon, sliced Italian sausage, ham, turkey, or beef.
Make it spicy– Add crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.
Make it creamy– Add heavy cream or full-fat coconut milk (for a dairy free option) at the end.
Chicken vegetable barley soup– Add more vegetables such as green bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, potatoes, or even sweet potatoes.
Make it Mexican– Add black beans and fire roasted jalapenos. Top with avocado and Monterey jack cheese, prior to serving.
Make it Asian- Add 1 can of coconut milk, chili paste, garlic, kale, red peppers, and a little curry powder.
Garnish options- Try fresh parsley, basil, chives, green onions or cilantro.
Use uncooked chicken– Use 2 uncooked breasts, along with the rest of the ingredients, and then shred or diced it at the end.
Use leftover chicken– This could be from a previous meal. Just shred it or dice it.
Tips And Techniques
Use rotisserie chicken– Cut it into small cubes or shred it. This is great for time saving convenience. It can me homemade or store-bought.
What kind of barley to use? I use pearl barley because it yields the best texture, especially in soups.
Adjust amount of seasonings- Add more or less Italian seasoning, based on your preference.
Correcting the consistency– The soup will thicken as the barley absorbs broth, and so the longer it sits, the thicker it will become. Mix in more broth to thin it again, when serving.
How to thicken soup? Allow the soup to sit and the barley will soak up the liquid, or continue cooking uncovered till the liquid evaporates to your desired consistency. You can also cook it on the stovetop to reduce excess liquid quickly.
How to make soup thinner? Mix in more broth or water.
Can I use something other than barley? Yes, brown rice would be a great alternative to barley. Quinoa can be another great choice. You can also use any small pasta like ditalini or elbow. Barley is more nutritious and contains more fiber than the pasta options though. If using pasta, don’t add it in till the last 15-20 minutes to prevent it from over-cooking and becoming “mushy.”
Use a multifunctional slow cooker– Because it allows you to saute the veggies in the slow cooker. This way, you won’t have to make another pot or pan dirty.
If you are short on time– Don’t saute the vegetables and just add everything in the crockpot and continue with the rest of the steps.
Use low sodium ingredients– Because they prevent this meal from becoming too salty.
Do you cook barley before adding to soup? No, that’s not necessary because the long cook time in the slow cooker will cook the barley to perfection.
More Slow Cooker Soup Recipes
Slow Cooker Chicken Barley Soup
- 1 tbsp Butter, Unsalted
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 cup Onion, Finely chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic, Finely minced
- 1 cup Carrots, Peeled, Diced
- 1/2 cup Celery , Sliced
- 5-6 cups Chicken broth, Low sodium, Always start with 5 cups and add more, if necessary
- 1 Tomato, Medium size, Finely chopped, Can also be replaced with 1/4 cup tomato sauce or leftover marinara sauce
- 1.5 tsp Italian seasoning
- Salt, To taste
- Pepper, To taste
- 1 Bay leaf
- 2/3 cups Pearl barley
- 1/3 cup Corn, Frozen
- 1/3 cup Peas, Frozen
- 2 cups Rotisserie chicken , Diced or Shredded
- 1-2 tbsp Parsley, Fresh, Roughly chopped, For garnish
- Heat butter and oil a nonstick pot over medium-high heat.
- Add onion, garlic, carrots, celery and saute for about 4-5 minutes until garlic is fragrant.
- Tip 1: Use a multifunctional slow cooker that allows you to saute the veggies the in the slow cooker. This way, you won’t have to make another pot or pan dirty. Tip 2: If you are short on time, don't saute the vegetables and just add everything in the crockpot and continue with the rest of the steps.
- Add these sauteed vegetables in a crockpot (6 quart or larger).
- Also, add broth, tomato, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, bay leaf, barley and mix everything until combined.
- Cover and cook on Low heat for 5 hours or until vegetables are tender and barley is cooked through.
- Mix in corn, peas and rotisserie chicken. If the soup is looking too thick, add more broth.
- Cover and continue cooking on Low heat for 30 minutes.
- Discard bay leaf.
- Garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy!
- Read all my tips above.
- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days and reheated in the microwave or stovetop. Additional broth will need to be added to thin out the soup again because barley absorbs a lot of the broth.