This crockpot chicken barley soup is an easy-to-prepare, protein-rich meal. We start with two pounds of chicken breasts, then add an onion, carrots, garlic, diced tomatoes, and chicken stock. Plus, it's brimming with the great taste and slightly chewy texture of cooked barley which adds to its delightful heartiness.
Barley is one of the world’s oldest cultivated grains. And because it’s high in fiber and has a low glycemic index, it makes us feel full longer without causing a spike in blood sugar levels the way many carbs do. Its dietary fiber also helps lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease.
What does all of this mean? Barley not only tastes great, but it's great for you! In fact, some refer to it as a super grain.
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, excess fat removed
1 large onion, peeled and chopped - about 1-1/2 cups
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery ribs, well-rinsed and chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 cup pearled barley, uncooked
15 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
8 cups chicken stock
1. Add chicken: In a 6-quart crockpot/slow cooker, first add the chicken breasts. Remove and discard any excess fat from the chicken as some people find fatty pieces in their soup to be quite offensive. Yes, it's easier to just open the package and "throw" the chicken in the slow cooker, but this extra effort pays off.
2. Add: Next, add the chopped onions, sliced carrots, chopped celery, and minced garlic.
3. Add barley: Add the uncooked barley. It can usually be found in the same grocery aisle as couscous, quinoa, and rice.
4. Add tomatoes: Next add the undrained can of diced tomatoes.
5. Add and stir: Pour in the chicken stock and gently stir the upper half of the contents. You don't want to disturb the placement of the chicken because being on the bottom helps ensure it becomes nice and tender.
6. Cook: With lid on, cook for 6-8 hours on LOW or 3-4 hours on HIGH.
7. Shred: When the cooking is finished, the pieces of chicken pull apart easily and the barley is tender. Lift the chicken out with a large meat fork and put on a plate. Shred it into bite-sized pieces. The chicken will be very hot and you may want to let it cool a few minutes before breaking it apart using two forks. Stir the shredded chicken into the soup.
8. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then ladle it into bowls and serve. In the photo, you may notice we added a few fresh thyme leaves. This garnish is totally optional.