With spring almost here, it’s time to add fresh garden flavors to your weekly menu. Lemon Chicken and Barley Soup is one of my favorite feel-good lunches or dinners.
Since the weather is getting warmer a bit earlier (me being optimistic) than normal in the Midwest and colds are spreading like wildfire, a hearty body nourishing soup is just what the doctored ordered.
I like soup. Like love soup! And although I know this is not the case for everyone, I do think there is a comforting healing feeling that soup provides. Whether you have had a bad day, it’s raining out, you are sick, or it’s just cold out, a warm bowl of soup and some bread can really brighten your day.
Right now we are on the verge of lots of travel. Which means, a hectic schedule, lots of airplane germs and a complete change of schedule (especially for our toddler). So to balance out all of these upcoming changes, I made a big pot of my nourishing Lemon Chicken Barley Soup.
This soup is light, bright, and loaded with veggies, lean protein, and whole grains. It tastes like spring even if we are not quite there yet. Personally I like eating a big bowl of this with half a grilled cheese or a big chunk of buttered baguette. My toddler on the other hands prefers a bowl of soup with a side of string cheese and some berries.
No wrongs here. All is right.
Now I do have to make one important request when you make this deliciously tasty and herbaceous soup, try your hardest to use good broth. Either some lovely free range broth from the store or make your own!
Lately I’ve been making my own broth while I make the soup with all the veggie scraps while boiling the chicken I intend to shred for the soup. It is surprisingly efficient to make the both and soup at once! For a simple broth recipe I like this one. And don’t worry if you don’t have all of the veggies for the broth, use what you have ☺️
So in case you are in a dinner rut, just make a big batch of this soup for a lovely spring hearty meal for the whole family.
Yields About 6 servings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
- 3 celery stalks, finely diced
- 3 carrots, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1- ½ teaspoon fresh dill or 1 teaspoon of dried dill
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 7-9 cups good quality broth (or make your own Broth from veggie scraps!)
- 3/4 cup pearl barley (uncooked)*
- 1 teaspoon salt, adjust to your taste
- 1-1/2 cups shredded chicken
- ¼ cup chives, finely chopped
- Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
- Add onion, leek, celery, and carrots. Sauté for 4-5 minutes.
- Add garlic and sauté for a minute longer.
- Stir in lemon juice, dill, oregano, 7 cups chicken broth, barley, and salt. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until barely is tender, about 50 minutes. If using quick-cook barley simmer soup without the barley for 10 minutes then add the barley and simmer 15-20 minutes until barley is tender. Taste for consistency and salt.
- Stir in chicken and chives the last 5 minutes. Since barely absorbs liquid add more chicken broth to thin soup out if desired.
- Serve with a sprinkling of feta cheese or parmesan. And don’t forget some crusty buttered bread.
Some places sell quick cook barley. That is fine to use, but make sure to only simmer for about 15-20 minutes, otherwise barley will get mushy. Also you can use quinoa instead of barley, simmer for about 12 minutes.