Soul-Warming Turkey Barley Soup Recipe (A Deliciously Nutritious Dish)

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Warm up your soul with our comforting Turkey Barley Soup Recipe, a rustic and hearty dish that combines tender chunks of turkey with wholesome barley in a savory broth. Bursting with flavors from an array of vegetables, and seasoned to perfection with a blend of herbs and spices, this soup is like a cozy blanket on a chilly day. It’s a nourishing and satisfying meal that will leave you feeling content and happy from the inside out. Perfect for any occasion!

There’s something undeniably comforting about a hot bowl of Turkey Barley Soup Recipe, especially during those cooler months.

Known to many as a dish of nostalgia, this soup combines the wholesome richness of turkey with the hearty, earthy texture of barley in a marriage of flavors that will warm both body and soul.

turkey barley soup recipe

Immerse yourself in this culinary journey as we delve into the secrets behind the perfect bowl of Turkey Barley Soup.

We’ll reveal the careful balance of fresh ingredients, cooking techniques, and little-known tips that transforms this dish from the ordinary to the extraordinary. 

This recipe, much-loved by home cooks and professional chefs alike, is more than just a meal – it’s a testament to the joy of cooking.

So, let’s embark on this gastronomic adventure together, one spoonful at a time, to discover the heartwarming allure of Turkey Barley Soup.

What Is Turkey Barley Soup?

Turkey Barley Soup is a hearty, flavorful dish that typically includes ingredients like cooked turkey, barley, vegetables, and herbs; all simmered together in a savory broth. 

The turkey provides a source of lean protein, while the whole-grain barley contributes to the soup’s texture and adds a unique, slightly nutty flavor.

This soup is a popular way to use up leftover turkey, especially after holiday meals like Thanksgiving. However, it’s hearty and satisfying enough to be made and enjoyed any time of the year.

turkey barley soup recipe

Can You Vary Turkey Barley Soup With Other Ingredients?

  • Gluten-Free Barley contains gluten, so for a gluten-free variation, you could use a substitute like rice, quinoa, or even gluten-free pasta. Ensure that your stocks are also gluten-free, as some brands may contain gluten.
  • KetoThe ketogenic diet requires low-carb, high-fat foods. You’d need to remove the barley high in carbs and replace it with a low-carb vegetable like cauliflower or broccoli. The carrots could be swapped for lower-carb vegetables like bell peppers or zucchini.
  • Paleo The Paleo diet excludes grains, so you’d need to replace the barley with a Paleo-friendly ingredient like sweet potatoes or turnips. Make sure your stocks don’t contain any non-Paleo ingredients.
  • Whole30 Like the Paleo diet, the Whole30 diet also excludes grains. Use a similar substitute for barley, as mentioned for Paleo. Also, ensure your stocks and soy sauce are compliant. Coconut aminos can be a great substitute for soy sauce.
  • Vegan/Vegetarian Substitutes Replace with a plant-based protein such as tofu, tempeh, seitan, or even cooked beans or lentils. Also, you can use vegetable stock or a vegan-friendly ‘no-chicken’ broth.
  • Gluten-Free Substitutes Since barley contains gluten, substitute with a gluten-free grain such as quinoa, rice, or even gluten-free pasta. Another great gluten-free substitute could be legumes like lentils or chickpeas for added protein and fiber.
Can You Vary Turkey Barley Soup With Other Ingredients?

Recipe Directions 

  1. Wash pearl barley under cold water.
  2. Chop vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Slice mushrooms thinly.
  4. If using leftover turkey, shred or chop into small pieces.
  5. In a Dutch oven, combine washed pearl barley, chicken stock, beef stock, chopped onion, and celery.
  6. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer covered for 1 hour.
  7. Add diced carrots, sliced mushrooms, and chopped/shredded turkey.
  8. Simmer covered for 30-40 more minutes until carrots are tender and flavors meld.
  9. Season with black pepper and a splash of soy sauce if desired.
  10. Ladle into bowls and serve hot. Enjoy the comforting Turkey Barley Soup!
Can You Vary Turkey Barley Soup With Other Ingredients?

Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings 


  • Meat Alternatives: If you don’t have turkey, you can substitute it with chicken, ham, or even tofu for a vegetarian version. For a plant-based option, consider adding beans or lentils.
  • Grains: If barley isn’t to your taste or if you’re following a specific diet, other grains like rice or quinoa can be used. For a low-carb or keto-friendly version, replace the barley with cauliflower rice or chopped zucchini.
  • Vegetables: Feel free to add or substitute different vegetables based on what you have on hand. Green peas, green beans, bell peppers, zucchini, kale, or spinach can all be great additions.


  • Herbs & Spices: To add more depth of flavor, consider adding herbs and spices like thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, or garlic.
  • Heat: If you enjoy a bit of spice, add some red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce.


  • Cheese: A sprinkle of Parmesan or sharp cheddar can add a lovely richness.
  • Fresh Herbs: Topping the soup with fresh chopped parsley, chives, or dill can add a pop of color and fresh flavor.
  • Croutons: Add some homemade croutons for a delightful crunch.
  • Sour Cream Or Greek Yogurt: A dollop on top can provide a nice creamy contrast.
Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings 

Can I Make Soup In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?

Slow Cooker

  • Add all ingredients, except for the barley and soy sauce, to the slow cooker. 
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. 
  • About an hour before the end of cooking time, add the barley. If added at the beginning, the barley could become overly soft.
  • Before serving, taste the soup and add soy sauce if needed for extra seasoning.

Instant Pot

  • Using the sauté function, cook the onions, celery, and carrots until they start to soften.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook for a couple more minutes.
  • Turn off the sauté function and add the turkey, barley, chicken stock, beef stock, and black pepper to the pot.
  • Close the lid, set the valve to sealing, and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes.
  • Let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then carefully release quickly.
  • Before serving, taste the soup and add soy sauce if needed for extra seasoning.
Can I Make Soup In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?

Can I Use Store Bought Broth Or Should I Make My Own?

Store-Bought Broth

  • This is a convenient and time-saving option. When buying broth, look for low-sodium versions so that you have better control over the saltiness of your soup. Also, check the ingredients list for any potential allergens or additives you may wish to avoid. 

Homemade Broth

  • Making your own broth allows you to control the ingredients and flavor. Homemade broth often has a richer flavor than store-bought versions. If you have leftover turkey bones, you can simmer them with vegetables and herbs to make a flavorful turkey broth. The same can be done with beef bones for beef broth.
Can I Use Store Bought Broth Or Should I Make My Own?

How To Serve?

  • Serve in Warm Bowls: To keep your soup warm for longer, try pre-warming your bowls. This can be done by filling them with hot water and then emptying them just before you’re ready to serve. This is particularly useful for hearty soups like Turkey Barley Soup.
  • Garnish: A garnish can add a pop of color and a layer of flavor to your soup. You could sprinkle chopped fresh parsley or chives for this recipe. A twist of black pepper or a sprinkle of red chili flakes could add some heat.
  • Serve with a Side: Soup is often served with a side of crusty bread or a roll. A fresh green salad would also complement the hearty nature of this soup.
  • Layer Your Ingredients: If you want to make your presentation a bit fancier, add some of your cooked turkey and veggies into the bottom of the bowl first, then pour the broth and barley over the top. 
How To Serve?

Perfect Side Dishes

  • Crusty Bread: A classic pairing, crusty bread can be used to sop up every last drop of your hearty soup. Try a whole-grain baguette for a healthy choice.
  • Green Salad: A light, fresh salad with a simple vinaigrette is a nice contrast to the heartiness of the soup.
  • Roasted Vegetables: A medley of roasted vegetables can add extra nutrition and make the meal more filling. Try root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, or beets.
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwich: For a comfort food twist, serve your soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. Use good quality cheese and whole-grain bread for a healthier version.
  • Quinoa Salad: A cool quinoa salad loaded with fresh vegetables can be a healthy and filling side dish that complements the soup.
  • Garlic Bread or Cheese Toasties: These are a flavorful accompaniment that can add a nice crunch to your meal.
Perfect Side Dishes

Storage And Make Ahead

  • Storage: After preparing, let the soup cool completely before transferring it into airtight containers. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. For longer storage, freeze in labeled freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months.
  • Make Ahead: Prepare the soup as directed, allowing it to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, transfer into containers suitable for freezing, leaving some space for expansion. Label with the date and freeze. When ready to serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated through. This make-ahead method streamlines mealtime prep, making it ideal for busy days.
Storage And Make Ahead

What Can We Do With Leftovers?

Leftover Turkey Barley Soup is very versatile and can be used in a variety of ways:

  • New Meal: Turn your soup into a new meal by blending some cream to make a creamy vegetable soup. You could also add some canned tomatoes for a tomato-barley soup variation.
  • Pasta Sauce: Reduce the soup on the stove until it thickens, then use it as a hearty sauce for pasta or grains like quinoa or rice.
  • Stuffed Peppers: Use the soup as a filling for stuffed bell peppers or tomatoes. Add some cheese on top and bake until the cheese is bubbly and browned.
  • Casserole: Mix your soup with some cooked rice or pasta, add cheese, and bake for a quick and easy casserole. 


  • Enhance the flavor by roasting the turkey bones before simmering them to make the broth. This adds depth and richness to your soup.
  • For added texture and nutrition, include a variety of vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions. Dice them finely for a harmonious blend of flavors.
  • Consider using pearl barley for a creamy consistency, or opt for hulled barley for a chewier texture. Both options bring unique qualities to your soup.
  • Incorporate Turkish spices like cumin, paprika, and sumac to infuse the soup with a delightful Middle Eastern flair.
  • Garnish each bowl with a dollop of tangy yogurt and a sprinkle of fresh herbs like parsley or dill for a refreshing finish.
Soul-Warming Turkey Barley Soup Recipe (A Deliciously Nutritious Dish)

Soul-Warming Turkey Barley Soup Recipe (A Deliciously Nutritious Dish)

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Turkey Barley Soup is a wholesome, hearty, and comforting dish, perfect for a cold day or when you’re in need of a nourishing meal. It’s a versatile dish that can be easily modified to suit different dietary preferences. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to make good use of leftover turkey. In essence, Turkey Barley Soup is a complete, balanced meal that epitomizes home-cooked goodness.


  • 1/2 Cup 1/2 Pearl Barley (Washed)

  • 4 Cups 4 Chicken Stock (Homemade Or Low-Sodium)

  • 2 Cups 2 Beef Stock (Homemade Or Low-Sodium)

  • 1 1 Small Onion (Chopped)

  • 2 2 Small Celery Ribs (Chopped)

  • 2 2 Carrots (Finely Diced)

  • 1 Lb 1 Fresh Mushrooms (Any kind Or Combination)(Sliced)

  • 2 Cups 2 Leftover Cooked Turkey (Chopped Or Shredded)

  • Soy Sauce To Taste (Optional, Depends On The saltiness of Stock)

  • 1/2 Tsp 1/2 Black Pepper (More To Taste)

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Prepare The Soup Base
    In a large Dutch oven or heavy stockpot, combine the washed pearl barley, chicken stock, beef stock, chopped onion, chopped celery, and finely diced carrots If you’re using leftover turkey, ensure it’s shredded or chopped.
    Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. to a boil over medium-high heat.
    Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let the soup simmer, covered, for about 1 hour. This will allow the flavors to meld together and the barley to soften.
  • Prepare The Cream Topping
    (Note: Turkey Barley Soup does not traditionally include a cream topping. However, you can create one if you prefer.)
    In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together 1 cup of heavy cream until it forms soft peaks.
    Add 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh herbs (such as thyme or rosemary) and a pinch of salt to the cream. Stir to combine it into bowls and enjoy hot.
  • To Finish The Soup
    To the simmering soup base, add the sliced fresh mushrooms and chopped or shredded cooked turkey.
    Season with soy sauce (if using) and black pepper. Be sure to taste as you season to ensure the soup is flavored to your liking.
    Continue to simmer the soup, covered, for an additional 30-40 minutes, or until the carrots and mushrooms are tender.
  • To Serve
    Ladle the hot soup into individual serving bowls.
    If using the cream topping, place a dollop on top of each bowl of soup.
    Serve warm, with a side of crusty bread or a green salad, if desired.
  • Large Pot Or Dutch Oven
  • Sharp Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Measuring Cups And Spoons
  • Ladle
  • Stove
  • Containers For Storage


  • Turkey barley soup is a hearty and nutritious dish made with turkey meat, barley grains, and vegetables. It’s a comforting soup enjoyed during colder months. Packed with flavor, it offers a balance of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates. Perfect for using leftover turkey, it’s a delicious and healthy option for soup lovers.

Nutrition Table

Nutrition Table

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You've entered a realm where each bowl isn't just a meal; it's an expedition to the core of comfort, well-being, and the sheer delight of feeding both body and soul. My name is Julia, and I'm here to navigate you through the flavorful worlds of Soup Chick. Together, we'll uncover the artistry behind each recipe, share stories that warm the heart, and celebrate the simple pleasures of making and enjoying soup.

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