Spring Chicken & Barley Soup

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Spring Chicken & Barley Soup

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 

  • 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)

Preparation: Active 45 min. Ready in 1hr. 15min.

  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 
Jim Bohs