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Chicken Barley Leek Soup Recipe

Homemade Chicken Barley Leek Soup

I ran into a leek today at the supermarket. I’ve never bought a leek, or even looked one in the face before. The closest I’ve ever come is reading about them. They bring to mind a sensation of English literature, like if I was the little girl in The Secret Garden, I would eat leeks at teatime in the parlor.

I knew a leek was in the onion family…and I’d actually come across a Rachael Ray soup recipe earlier in the week containing leeks that I thought I might be able to try. When I ran into the leek – organic at that! – on accident in the produce section, I thought I’ll just have to buy it and jump headlong into the recipe without looking back.

Note:  This post was written in the winter.

A Bit About Leeks

Luckily Rachael Ray actually took the time out of her 30 minutes to describe how to cut and wash the leek:  You have to cut off the very tip of the white part, then slice it lengthwise so that you can wash between the layers down there. There’s a lot of dirt in a leek! You then slice the white part into thin half moon shapes. You can then cut into the greens until you reach the “tough part”. The shape is kind of up to you for the greens; I went with little diced squares. Most recipes for leeks will note if you use just the white part, or not.

 
Homemade Chicken Barley Leek Soup

Leeks emanate a rather pleasant, delicate, onion-y scent as you cut them. The half-moon part was easy, but I’m still not quite sure where I was supposed to stop cutting! It was clear that the leeks, which are white on the bottom with broad, flat, hardy strips of leaves on top, had been cut for aesthetics in the grocery store. So did they already cut off “the tough part”? Or was that my job? I went with a halfway job, cutting about halfway up the stalk and putting the rest back in my fridge in case I decided it was safe to eat another day. It’s always an adventure – a worthwhile one! – to try a new fruit or vegetable. I’ve purchased another leek or two since then, and I pretty much use the whole thing. We haven’t died yet!

RELATED: How to Make Any Soup Recipe in the Instant Pot.

Homemade Chicken Barley Leek Soup

exclamation_32x32Leftovers note:  Leeks can be cut and frozen, just like an onion, according to my man at the Farmer’s Market. I’ve got some waiting for mid-winter!

Wintersoup 3D eBook 200Looking for more soup recipes? You won’t want to miss the eBook Winter Soups, a compilation from over 50 real food bloggers. I truly enjoy having this book in my collection for all the great new ideas. Check it out here.

Katie’s Chicken Barley Leek Soup

Here’s the result of Rachael Ray, the leek, and I collaborating on a soup that turned out to be one of the best I’ve had all winter long. It seriously reminds me of a high quality restaurant soup, and by chance, all the veggies were on sale organic that week (added bonus!) and the chicken was local, so I felt really good about serving it to my family. I even had enough of the double batch to share with a friend with cancer and another who was expecting twins any second! She got her fuel for labor from my soup – I was so proud! Turns out I didn’t use Miss Ray’s recipe much beyond learning to cut a leek, so I feel no guilt in sharing:

Homemade Chicken Barley Leek Soup
  • 1-2 Tbs each butter and olive oil
  • 2 leeks
  • 2-4 carrots
  • 3-5 ribs celery
  • 4 oz. baby portobella (or white) mushrooms
  • ¼-1/2 tsp bay leaf seasoning (or one bay leaf)
  • 1-2 tsp thyme
  • 6 c. chicken broth
  • 2 c. cooked chicken
  • ½ c. barley*

*I got my barley at a health foods store – “organic pearled barley” – for less money than what I can usually find at Meijer, Quaker “quick” barley. If you have to use quick barley, it will still be tasty, but that whole barley, soaked, was amazing! If you can find “hulled barley”, I’ve since learned that it is even less processed than “pearled”, therefore more nutritious, and equally delicious.

Instructions

Slice and sauté vegetables in butter and olive oil about 5 minutes. Add seasonings and sauté a few more minutes. Add broth and barley. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer until barley is done, about 30-45 minutes. If the barley soaks up too much broth, add more. Add chicken, 1 tsp salt and ½-1 tsp pepper.

I would highly recommend making a big pot of chicken stock and using the homemade stock and cooked chicken for this soup.

Homemade Chicken Barley Leek Soup

 Healthier Upgrade

Soaked option:  soak a cup of barley in water and 2 Tbs whey or lemon juice overnight, then cook with salt about 45 minutes. Drain before adding to soup. Eye up the amount, then save and freeze the rest for your next batch.

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Katie’s Chicken Barley Leek Soup

  • Author: Katie Kimball
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 55 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Soup

Ingredients

Scale
  • 12 Tbs. each butter and olive oil (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!)
  • 2 leeks
  • 24 carrots
  • 35 ribs celery
  • 4 oz. baby portobella (or white) mushrooms
  • ¼1/2 tsp. bay leaf seasoning (or one bay leaf)
  • 12 tsp. thyme
  • 6 c. chicken broth
  • 2 c. cooked chicken
  • ½ c. barley*


ship kroger


Instructions

  1. Slice and sauté vegetables in butter and olive oil about 5 minutes.
  2. Add seasonings and sauté a few more minutes.
  3. Add broth and barley.
  4. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer until barley is done, about 30-45 minutes. If the barley soaks up too much broth, add more.
  5. Add chicken, 1 tsp salt (Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase) and ½-1 tsp pepper.

Notes

I would highly recommend making a big pot of chicken stock and using the homemade stock and cooked chicken for this soup.

Healthier Upgrade

Soaked option: Soak a cup of barley in water and 2 Tbs whey or lemon juice overnight, then cook with salt about 45 minutes. Drain before adding to soup. Eye up the amount, then save and freeze the rest for your next batch.

*I got my barley at a health foods store – “organic pearled barley” – for less money than what I can usually find at Meijer, Quaker “quick” barley. If you have to use quick barley, it will still be tasty, but that whole barley, soaked, was amazing! If you can find “hulled barley”, I’ve since learned that it is even less processed than “pearled”, therefore more nutritious, and equally delicious.

What Will YOU Run into at the Store?

I dare you to try something new this month. Find a good recipe that you would usually skip over because of an unfamiliar ingredient. (Choose a healthy new adventuresome ingredient, of course.)  Last week’s bean recipe round-up or this week’s broth/stock recipes are great places to start! (Or grab a leek…this soup’s fast, easy and delish!)

Homemade Chicken Barley Leek Soup

Other Recipes to Choose From:

Photo of leek source

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29 thoughts on “Chicken Barley Leek Soup Recipe”

  1. I’m really enjoying your site, just started checking it out today. But feeling a bit concerned and confused that there is a recipe containing barley in the gluten-free e-book, when barley is not gluten-free. A mistake perhaps?

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Shirley, The Winter Soup ebook spoken of in this post is not fully gluten-free, nor is it advertised as such. The vast majority of the soup recipes are gluten-free, but not all. Sorry if there was any confusion there. 🙂

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  4. Just made this for supper, and it was a hit! I used quinoa instead of barley, purely by accident, and added a bit of sliced cabbage, just because I had it on hand. Thanks for a great recipe!

  5. Was just taking my pooch for a stroll in the yard and noticed a half dozen leeks which i’d forgotten i planted way back in spring (leeks are very slow growing!) so was looking for a nice chicken/leek recipe – this looks wonderful and thanku for additional ideas – will add garlic too:)

  6. You bet! We skip the barley when we’re grain-free and just over-measure everything else – it’s great!

  7. Perfect timing! I have some in the fridge and it’s almost time for GAPS intro (another round for us). I’ll just omit the barley and not even miss it. 🙂

  8. this is a great recipes for soups specially adding ingredients such as leeks .not only leeks is great to clear the blood in your body but having the soup with your meals every day help flushing your body so you will always look clean and beautiful from inside and out side. i always believed beauty start from the inside and what you use on your face is to help your beauty from the out side your face and body is the meeting point and the result. keep having leeks in your soup not just for the taste but for the healthy part of it.
    thank you for sharing greatly appreciated

  9. Saw this on twitter and decided to try it because I have never had a leek before, my son is on his 3rd bowl!

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  11. I LOVE leeks! I use the delicate white/light green part in place of onions in slow-cooked braised dishes. They have much richer flavor than regular onions.

    I put the tough dark green parts into broth because it adds flavor and stands up to simmering for hours.

  12. Just made this soup – it was delicious and even the hubby liked it (sometimes he’s a hard sell on soup). I added garlic and used sweet potatoes instead of carrots (just because that’s what I had). I also left out the mushrooms since I didn’t have any. Yum!

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  14. gfe--gluten free easily

    That soup looks great, Katie! I’ll have to add something in place of the barley, but otherwise, yum. 🙂 Thanks for the info on leeks. I’ve never cooked with them myself, but have enjoyed them out, especially in soups.

    Thanks so much for linking up for Holiday Food Fest!

    Shirley
    .-= gfe–gluten free easily´s last blog ..Holiday Food Fest Is Up! =-.

  15. This sounds perfect! I forgot to use some leeks I had in the fridge for another soup recipe (used onions instead) and I have fresh chicken stock and the leftover chicken from it. I have a box of barley I’ve been wanting to get to so, again, this is perfect! Thanks!

  16. rachel-asouthernfairytale

    YUM! I love trying new stuff! I’ve never tried leeks before and this is an excellent tutorial! Thank you!!
    .-= rachel-asouthernfairytale´s last blog ..Southwestern Pot Roast =-.

  17. Live.Love.Eat

    How funny, you ran into a leek. I have only cooked with them once before myself. And I did like it. Must do it again.

    And I agree, it is FUN trying something new. Mine will be Garam Masala. I think it’s the one spice I don’t have.
    .-= Live.Love.Eat´s last blog ..Chocolate Hazelnut-Banana Stuffed Wontons =-.

  18. That sounds really yummy! I have chicken soup on the menu for tonight as I have some little ones that are a bit sick. So lots of garlic and chicken broth and thyme are what is needed! I am thinking maybe I should add some barley as I just got some from the co-op.
    .-= Abbi´s last blog ..From Apples to Applesauce =-.

  19. What a great post! This is a soup I know I would enjoy. Thanks for sharing your tips and recipe with us. Have a great day.
    .-= Mary´s last blog ..Braised Vietnamese Fish – Ca Kho To – Foodie Friday =-.

  20. Oh, this looks great! I love leeks (and The Secret Garden) and barley is such a great thing…full of fiber and filling for the more manly appetites at my house. I’ll be giving this a try 🙂

    Blessings!
    Gail
    .-= Gail´s last blog ..A Souper Weekend! =-.

  21. What a fun post! I am glad to know what to do with leeks now. And this recipe sounds so healthy. I like using organic when possible. Thanks for sharing and for letting us know how to cut a leek. If I ever run into one, I will be prepared! 🙂

    Happy Foodie Friday…

    XO,

    Sheila 🙂
    .-= Sheila´s last blog ..Play With Your Food (Act II ) or In the Pink… =-.

  22. This looks and sounds awesome! I just got leeks in my CSA box, and a chicken from my local co-op. I’m feeling this soup. 🙂

    I’ve made a leek casserole that we love (vegetarian). The leeks are the main ingredient (left whole, but trimmed). It has a bread crumb, yogurt, parmesan, goat cheese topping. So good!

    1. I made this soup today, and wow… was it good!!! It’s definitely restaurant quality. I mentioned that to my husband, and he said, “it’s better than the restaurants”. I love that man! 🙂

      I only changed 2 things:

      1) I simply cannot cook anything without garlic, especially chicken soup. So I added 3 chopped cloves when I sauted the veggies.

      2) I didn’t have any thyme, so I used some dried tarragon from my garden. I LOVE tarragon with chicken.

      I used my yummy homemade roasted chicken broth, so this should nourish my family well. Several people I know are sick, so we need all the protection we can get.

      Thanks for a great recipe Katie!

      1. Woo hoo! Glad you liked it. I made a soup without garlic? What was I thinking? 😉 This is actually in my menu plan for tomorrow night, so I’m going to have to try garlic, too. I’m just learning about tarragon after getting a sprig from a friend this summer. Sounds like a great addition!
        Thanks for testing it out for me!
        Katie

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  24. Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet

    Looks like a very hearty, satisfying soup. Thanks for sharing again!
    .-= Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet´s last blog ..Pennywise Platter Thursday 10/8 =-.

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