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Lightened-Up Chicken and Barley

small bowl chicken and barleyIf there is anyone out there that understands the need to skip the beef, it would be me. Before I moved in with Mr. Yum it was rare for me to eat steak or any other beef product for that matter. Bacon was something special to have once in a while, and even then, I just didn’t care whether or not it was on my breakfast platter. I’m not sure what changed over the years. I know quite a bit of it was the need to cook meals everyone would eat, and let’s face it, not everyone is like me and will go meat free, use tofu, each chicken or seafood day in and day out. I quickly realized I was going to have to do some switching especially since hubs doesn’t like most seafood and isn’t the biggest fan of fish. Lately I’ve been feeling that the stress in my life or the PCOS aren’t the only things that have caused this significant weight gain, but the change in the foods I eat. Let’s face it, cows meat has more fat and calories per serving than chicken. 

Hubs loves his beef and barley. While it is pretty tasty, I don’t favor it. So, the other night when he was craving a nice warm bowl of his favorite soup, I knew I was going to have to find a way to lighten it up a bit. If you’re interested in that you can find the recipe on the Beef and Extra Barley page. I’m really trying to clean up my food choices a bit and lower my calorie consumption.

starting chicken and barley

I did use some leftover chicken gravy I had made from homemade chicken stock. I just thinned it down with a little bit of water and some more chicken stock. Don’t fret if you don’t have these hanging around in your freezer like I do, store-bought chicken stock is fine. I also used some leftover chicken we had and shredded it up. You can use any chicken you like, just remember ounce for ounce dark meat has more calories and fat than chicken breast. We use a bit of both to make everyone in the house cheaper, plus it was leftover from a roasted chicken.

chicken barley homemade chicken stock


Lightened-Up Chicken and Barley

Chrystal Mahan YUMeating.com
4.80 from 10 votes


  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 small white onion finely chopped
  • 3 carrots diced
  • 2 cups barley
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp parsley + garnish


  • Cook and shred your chicken if you're not using leftovers.
  • In a dutch oven or stock pot combine the chicken stock, onion, carrots, rosemary, thyme and parsley.
  • Bring to a slow rolling boil.
  • Add the onion and carrots.
  • Turn down the heat.
  • Cook for 10 minutes to allow the carrots and onions to become tender.
  • Add the shredded chicken.
  • Add the barley.
  • The length of continual cook time will be determined on the type of barley you use and the package instructions.
  • Once your barley is done cooking, place in bowls and top with a sprinkle of parsley; which is optional.


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  1. 4 stars
    Looks like a great meal that could warm you up good this season during the cold! I never tasted barely before but your pictures make it look tasty!

  2. It’s something I am actually able to eat do to my gasteropariese there’s not a lot I am able to digest but barley and chicken soup sound very good and that photo looks yum. I love the name of your blog. Glad I found it.

  3. 5 stars
    This sounds delicious. We try to limit red meat to once a week. I’m lucky that my husband loves eating chicken – and I look for vegetarian meals each week (hoping to get one meal with no meat.)

    1. Growing up my family was similar. It was rare we had pasta without some sort of meat or meatballs. These days the price of meat is ridiculous. Even buying your own cow and pig to have butchered as gone up. I’m looking for more meat free alternatives for my family in the hopes that they will like them and our bank account with thank us all.

  4. I am not sure what it is about soups with barley but they are always my favorite. I can not wait to try this one. I might make it with left over turkey though.

  5. Chicken and barley with carrots, celery and other good stuff sounds like another soup to add to my winter repertoire. Our other two favorites are split pea and potato. Thanks for the delicious recipe.

  6. Soup is just the perfect food when the weather is cool. This one sounds good for the family, I like that there’s barley in there. I haven’t seen it paired with chicken before.

  7. Looks so delicious. Great and needy recipe for the winter season. I usually make soup with barley alone. But this Chicken & barley rice combination is very different and sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe.

  8. I feel like your article exactly mirrors my feelings. When I was single, I ate so differently and, frankly, healthier too. Its hard not only to cook for different tastes but also different caloric requirements. My husband is 6’4 with a crazy metabolism. It’s insane to watch him eat 5 eggs for sunday breakfast with bacon, toast, and butter. I would be 300lbs if I ate like that and yet, I have to cook meals to satisfy everyone too. Thanks for sharing on Merry Monday! Pinning so maybe I can convince him, lol.

    1. It’s so hard. I tried going back to Weight Watchers a few years ago to regain my Lifetime status and I got so frustrated. I am fine with chicken or fish with a baked potato or rice with a vegetable. However, my hubs and kiddo would disagree. I have been trying to lighten up some of my main recipes and do things different when I can. I’d still like to go back to WW and give it another go.

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