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+ servings
chicken barley soup in two blue bowls

Chicken Barley Soup

This chicken soup with barley, kale and a garlic chili oil is so quick to come together, you'll think you've been cooking it for hours.
Course Soup
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 408kcal
Author Ryan Beck


  • cup olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 1 ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 large bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 ½ lemons, juiced
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste


  • In large pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, stirring often for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the garlic and oil to a heatproof bowl and stir in crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Return pot to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the garlic oil. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add chicken broth, barley, and chicken to pot. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  • Remove chicken and shred. Continue cooking soup for another 30-40 minutes or until barley is cooked.
  • Once barley is cooked, stir in kale and shredded chicken. Remove pot from heat and add lemon juice. Taste for seasoning.
  • Serve in bowls and top with reserved garlic chili oil.


  • The garlic chili oil has a kick to it so if you don't love spice either remove entirely or use ½ teaspoon less. If you like spice you can always add ½ - 1 teaspoon more.
  • Use quality low-sodium chicken broth as it contributes to the flavor. You can also use chicken stock which gives the soup more mouth feel.
  • You know the chicken is cooked when it reaches 165°F with an instant-read thermometer or if you cut into the chicken and the juices run clear and there is no pink. Honestly, I always just cut the chicken to see when it is done. If it isn’t just cook slightly longer.
  • You know the barley is done when it has tripled in volume and is soft yet chewy.
  • Remove the stems from the kale before adding to the soup as they are too fibrous to eat.


Serving: 1bowl | Calories: 408kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 766mg | Potassium: 871mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 4450IU | Vitamin C: 86.6mg | Calcium: 110mg | Iron: 2.7mg