Chicken, barley & vegetable soup

Chicken and barley soup200This soup is packed full of nutrients, and home-made stock from well-sourced, organically grown chicken is a great place to start. Cumin is digestive, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hypotensive (may reduce blood pressure by widening the blood vessels) herb. It’s also great for improving the circulation. Paprika brings a vibrant colour and plenty of vitamin A to this recipe.

The vegetables and herbs in this soup make for a well-rounded and hearty meal for the coldest of winter days…or nights!


  • 120g pearl barley (or brown rice)
  • 40ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large brown onion, finely diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 4 stalks celery, cut lengthways in three and then finely sliced
  • 2 leeks, sliced in rounds
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2 cm dice
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground fennel
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1/4 cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 bunch silverbeet, shredded, including most of the stem
  • Salt flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 handfuls green beans, cut in 2cm lengths
  • 2 zucchini, cut in 1cm dice


  • 1 leftover roast chicken carcass with at least one leg intact
  • 4-5 black peppercorns
  • 4 cloves garlic, skin on, smashed
  • 1 large brown onion, skin on, quartered
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 vegetable stock cube


Step 1 –  Make the stock

To make the stock, pick off all the meat left on the carcass and the leg. Chop the meat into about half centimetre dice and set aside.

Step 2

Place the bones, skin and any jelly and fat into a large pot with the peppercorns, garlic, onion, bay leaf and crumbled stock cube and cover with cold water. Bring the pot to the simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Step 3

Strain off the liquid and discard the bones and aromatics. You should have about 1 1/2 to 2 litres of liquid.


Step 4 – Make the soup

To make the soup, simmer the barley for 10 minutes, drain and set aside.

Step 5

In a large saucepan over medium heat add the virgin oil, onion and garlic and cook for about four minutes or until softened.

Step 6

Add the celery, leek and carrot and cook over a low to medium heat for about 20 minutes or until caramelised.

Step 7

Add the spices, bay leaves, cabbage and silverbeet, season and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes.

Step 8

Add the beans, zucchini, barley and the stock, bring to the simmer and cook for 20 minutes (adding more water if needed).

Step 9

Stir through the reserved chicken, simmer briefly, adjust the seasoning if necessary and serve.


Good Food –  Karen Martini

Photo credit: thepinkpeppercorn / Foter / CC BY