This Turkey and Barley Soup makes for a hearty comforting meal. This is a stove top recipe that uses leftover turkey. It has a rich turkey flavor, combined with the earthiness of barley and a medley of vegetables, makes for a delicious combination. It's the perfect remedy for a cold day or when you need a taste of home.
This turkey barley soup recipe is one of my favorite leftover turkey soup recipes. It's the perfect way to turn those leftovers into something new and delicious. It's a hearty, comforting soup filled with tender chunks of turkey, wholesome barley, and a bunch of tasty veggies.
The flavors in this soup really come together to give you that warm, homey feeling - think of a blend of earthy barley with savory turkey, all in a rich, herby broth.
Whether you're looking to warm up on a cold day or just want a simple and satisfying meal, this soup is sure to hit the spot. Let's get cooking and give that leftover turkey a tasty new life!
What You'll Love About This Recipe
- Rich in Flavor: The combination of turkey, vegetables, and herbs creates a taste that is both deep and satisfying.
- Nutrition Packed: Loaded with vegetables and whole grains, it’s a healthy option that doesn't compromise on taste.
- Versatility: Easily adaptable with different vegetables or types of broth.
- Comfort in a Bowl: Perfect for those days when you need a warm hug in the form of food.
Onion, Carrots, Celery, Yellow Bell Pepper, Garlic: Fresh, organic vegetables work best for a more robust flavor.
Dried Herbs (Oregano, Paprika, Thyme, Italian Seasoning): Fresh herbs can also be used for a more intense flavor.
Chicken Broth: Homemade broth gives the best flavor, but store-bought works well too. Of course, you could use homemade turkey stock or turkey broth if you have leftover turkey bones. This is the a great way to use up that Thanksgiving turkey carcass,
Tomato Puree/Passata: Look for a puree with no added sugars or preservatives. If you don't have puree, canned tomatoes will do the trick.
Pearl Barley: Ensure it's well-rinsed. You can substitute it with other grains like quinoa or rice.
Leftover Turkey Meat: A great way to use up Thanksgiving leftovers! Chicken works well if you don't have turkey.
Baby Spinach: Adds a fresh, leafy component. Kale can be a good alternative.
Fresh Parsley: Adds a burst of freshness. Cilantro could be used for a different flavor profile.
Parmesan Cheese: Opt for freshly shaved Parmesan for the best flavor and texture.
Seasonings: Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper for the best taste.
See recipe card for quantities.
- Large Soup Pot: Essential for making soups, a Dutch oven can be a great alternative.
- Cutting Board and Knife: For prepping the vegetables.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons: For accurate measurement of ingredients.
- Ladle: For serving the soup.
- Cheese Grater: If using a block of Parmesan, a grater will be needed for shaving.
- Alternative: If you don't have a large soup pot, a deep, heavy-bottomed pan can work, though you may need to adjust the cooking time slightly.
Start with the Base: Begin by heating the olive oil in a large soup pot over a medium flame. Add the diced onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper, and minced garlic.
Sprinkle a generous pinch of salt and pepper - this not only seasons the veggies but helps them release their juices and soften. Cook them for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. You'll notice them becoming slightly tender.
Spice Things Up: Now, it's time to add the oregano, paprika, thyme, and Italian seasoning. Stir them in and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
You'll know it's time to move on when you can smell the spices - that's them releasing their flavors.
Add Liquids and Barley: Pour in the chicken broth and tomato passata. Turn up the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. As soon as it boils, add the pearl barley.
Then, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot with a lid, and let it simmer. This will take about 45-65 minutes - the barley is done when it's tender but still has a bit of chew to it.
Incorporate the Turkey and Greens: Remove the lid and add the shredded turkey, baby spinach, and chopped parsley. Let the soup cook for another 6-8 minutes.
During this time, the turkey will heat through, and the spinach and parsley will wilt and blend into the soup.
Final Seasoning: Give the soup a taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper if needed. This final seasoning is crucial - it's what makes your soup go from good to great.
Serve with a Garnish: Ladle the soup into bowls and top each with a sprinkle of shaved parmesan cheese. This not only adds a wonderful flavor but also a beautiful finishing touch.
Enjoy your homemade Hearty Turkey and Pearl Barley Soup!
Balancing Flavors: One of the most important aspects of making a great soup is getting the flavor balance right. Don't hesitate to taste your soup as you cook and adjust the seasonings, especially salt and pepper, accordingly. This will help bring out all the delicious flavors of the vegetables, turkey, and spices.
Cooking the Barley Perfectly: Pearl barley takes a while to cook, so patience is key. Make sure it's fully cooked through but still retains a slight chewiness for the best texture in your soup. Adding the barley at the right time and simmering it slowly will ensure it's perfectly done without becoming mushy.
Utilizing Leftovers Effectively: This soup is fantastic for using leftover turkey, but you can also add any other leftover veggies or meats you have in the fridge. It's a versatile recipe, so feel free to get creative and customize it with whatever ingredients you have on hand, making it not just delicious but also economical and waste-reducing.
This is just the best turkey soup and makes for a stick to your ribs kinda meal.
- For the Turkey: Chicken or ham can be a great alternative if you don't have turkey.
- For the Pearl Barley: Rice, particularly brown rice for a similar texture, or small pasta like orzo, can substitute for pearl barley.
- For the Chicken Broth: Vegetable broth or beef broth can be used in place of chicken broth. For a richer flavor, try using bone broth.
- For the Vegetables: Feel free to swap in any vegetables you have in your fridge. Broccoli, green beans, or red bell peppers are good options.
- Creamy Soup Version: By adding a splash of cream or a dollop of Greek yogurt at the end, you can transform this soup into a creamy delight.
- Spicy Soup Twist: Give the soup a spicy kick by adding red pepper flakes, diced jalapeños, or a bit of hot sauce.
- Hearty Meat Lover’s Soup: For a more meaty soup, add in cooked sausage or bacon along with the turkey.
- Summer Veggie Soup: In the warmer months, lighten up the soup by using zucchini, yellow squash, and fresh tomatoes. This makes for a fresher, lighter version perfect for summer evenings.
This Hearty Turkey and Barley Soup combines the savory richness of tender turkey blending seamlessly with the nutty, chewy barley, in a flavorful herb-infused broth. It's a delicious and nourishing meal, rhe ideal comfort food for those days when you crave something deeply satisfying and heartwarming.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups tomato puree or passata
- ½ cup pearl barley
- 2-½ cups leftover turkey, shredded
- 3 cups baby spinach
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 ounces shaved Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper, and garlic with salt and pepper until slightly softened, about 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in oregano, paprika, thyme, and Italian seasoning; cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- Add chicken broth and tomato puree; bring to a boil. Add pearl barley, reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until barley is tender, 45-65 minutes.
- Stir in turkey, baby spinach, and parsley; cook until turkey is heated and greens are wilted, 6-8 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper. Serve with shaved Parmesan cheese.
Be patient with the barley. It's done when it's tender but still has a bit of chew.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 261Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 1248mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 4gSugar: 7gProtein: 20g
Fridge Storing Option: The soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. The flavors often deepen and improve with time, making it great for leftovers.
Freezer Storing Option: This soup freezes well. To freeze, let the soup cool and then freeze in single serving zip lock bags or freezer safe jars.
Reheating: Reheat the soup on the stove over medium heat until hot. If the soup has thickened in the fridge, add a bit of water or broth to reach your desired consistency. Microwave reheating is also an option - use a microwave-safe container and heat in intervals, stirring in between, until hot.
Yes, chicken is a fantastic substitute for turkey in this soup. Both leftover roasted chicken or even a rotisserie chicken from the store work well. The key is to use cooked chicken, added at the same stage as the turkey, to ensure it's just heated through and remains tender.
If pearl barley isn’t available, you can use other grains like brown rice, quinoa, or farro. Keep in mind that cooking times may vary depending on the grain you choose. Small pasta shapes like orzo or ditalini can also work but add them later in the cooking process as they cook faster than barley.
Absolutely! This turkey barley soup recipe is very versatile. Consider adding vegetables like zucchini, sweet potatoes, or green beans. You can add these at the same time as the other vegetables to ensure they're cooked through. This is a great way to use up any veggies you have on hand.
Fresh herbs can add a more vibrant flavor to the soup, but they're not necessary. Dried herbs are a convenient and effective alternative. Generally, use one-third the amount of dried herbs compared to fresh herbs. So if the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, you would use 3 teaspoons of fresh thyme.