Spring Chicken & Barley Soup

Spring Chicken & Barley Soup

17 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine, March/April 2009

You might think of barley as an addition to hearty, wintery soups, such as mushroom-barley or beef-barley soup, but it also works well in lighter soups like this one with chicken, asparagus and peas.

Ingredients 4 servings

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Original recipe yields 4 servings
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  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, divided
  • 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large bone-in chicken breast, (10-12 ounces), skin removed, trimmed
  • ⅓ cup pearl barley
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup trimmed and diagonally sliced asparagus, ( ¼ inch thick)
  • 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup lightly packed torn fresh basil leaves
  • 1 strip orange zest, ( ½ by 2 inches)


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; add onion and celery and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, 2 to 4 minutes. Grate or finely chop 1 clove garlic; add to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth, chicken and barley. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate with a slotted spoon. Return the broth to a simmer and cook until the barley is tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, shred the chicken or cut into bite-size pieces; discard the bone.
  3. When the barley is done, add the chicken, tomatoes and juice, asparagus, peas, salt and a grinding of pepper; return to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the asparagus is tender, about 5 minutes more.
  4. Coarsely chop the remaining garlic clove. Gather basil, orange zest and the garlic and finely chop together. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle each serving with a generous pinch of the basil mixture.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 3, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat the soup, thin with broth if desired and finish with Step 4 just before serving.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: 2 cups
  • Per serving: 254 calories; 5 g fat(1 g sat); 7 g fiber; 30 g carbohydrates; 22 g protein; 100 mcg folate; 32 mg cholesterol; 8 g sugars; 1,598 IU vitamin A; 31 mg vitamin C; 68 mg calcium; 3 mg iron; 1,235 mg sodium; 712 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (52% daily value), Vitamin A (32% dv), Folate (25% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 2
  • Exchanges: 1½ starch, 1 vegetable, 2 lean meat

Reviews 17

July 07, 2019
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By: Leah
I really enjoyed this recipe but I might add carrot next time. I will definitely make this again
April 28, 2019
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By: BMcK
Found this while looking for recipes with cholesterol lowering foods like barley. I added carrots when sautéing the onion and celery. This was delicious, although next time I might make it without the peas. It was quite easy, but very satisfying.
February 25, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Good weeknight soup The first thing I will say is that the orange zest make this dish so I do not recommend omitting it. Overall this is a very healthy and easy to make dish. I used boneless chicken breast (taking care not to overcook) and more or less just threw all the ingredients together almost all at the same time (again trying not to overcook the asparagus). That helped me cut down the time a little and the dish didn't suffer. I also added some italian seasoning for just a little more flavour and I added the zest and basil right to the pot. I also used 4 cups broth, not 6 since I was only cooking for two anyway. Turned out very well. Had leftovers enough for myself for lunch for two days. Two minutes in the microwave was enough to warm it up. I will make this again for sure but it's only a good recipe, not a great one. Pros: Full of veggies, one-pot dish, anyone can make, fresh taste Cons: Slightly bland, recipe could be simplified
March 15, 2012
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By: EatingWell User
This soup was wonderful! I also added some chopped carrots. I used lemon peel & cilantro for the orange & basil, since it is what I had. I added the peel mixture to the pot once it was done, rather than the indiviual bowls. Very flavorful! Port Clinton, OH
March 31, 2011
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By: keatingjunk
Wonderfully fresh taste Aspargus gives this a nice spring taste. I doubled the recipe. My wife & I loved it.
March 28, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
The basil/garlic/orange mixture turned this ok soup into a delicious bowl of healthy and yummy goodness. I also browned some fresh chicken tenders... and cleaned out the veggie drawer. Happy we have some left for tomorrow.
December 01, 2009
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By: pyarem
It was the only thing I wanted to eat after recovering from cancer surgery. Loved it.
September 28, 2009
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By: EatingWell User
My husband and I loved this! I also added a few green onions, green and yellow bell pepper, carrots, mushrooms, and 1 parsnip. The hint of orange was such a nice compliment to the soup. Will definitely be making this again!! Carrie, Northern, MI
September 28, 2009
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By: EatingWell User
This soup is super yummy! I made a batch of it for lunches. I added zucchini to boost the veggie content and will probably add mushrooms as well next time. I didn't use the orange zest and used boneless breasts - turned out great! Heather, Parkton, MD
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