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Chicken Soup with Barley & Wild Rice

This year flu season is in full swing, and a hearty chicken soup is just the ticket!  We were inspired to create this recipe by a study from the University of Nebraska that suggests eating chicken soup made with a variety of good-for-you veggies can cut down on the inflammatory response the body has to the common cold.  We've tried this recipe with parsnips (with good success) and turnips (tend to turn mushy in this soup). Using low-sodium chicken broth will help cut down on the sodium in the soup (soups are often big offenders when it comes to salt!) without compromising the flavor.  

Cooking time: 1 1/2 hours
Serves: 4-6

Assemble the following materials/ingredients:

  • Large soup pot with lid
  • 2 cutting boards (one for meat, one for veggies)
  • 2 sharp knives
  • Fine mesh sieve, for rinsing wild rice 
  • Heat-resistant spoon


  • 4-5 stalks celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • Other vegetables you may choose to include (parsnips play well with this soup)
  • 1 shallot OR 1 small leek, peeled and diced
  • 1 small sweet onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • Fresh parsley, to taste, or 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 2-4 Tblsp. olive oil
  • 2 32-ounce (1 Quart) boxes of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup uncooked pearled barley
  • 2-4 medium boneless &skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed, chopped in bite-size pieces
  • Seasonings & spices, to taste (we like oregano and freshly-ground black pepper)

Putting it all together:

1.  In the soup pot, cook the onions, shallot (or leek) and garlic on medium heat in the oil until soft, about 6-7
minutes.  If they start to brown before they're soft, turn down the heat.  

2.  Add the carrots, celery, and whatever other vegetables you choose to throw in, and cook on medium-low for about 5 more minutes, stirring to make sure the onions aren't burning.

3.  Add both boxes of chicken broth, parsley, wild rice, and pearled barley.  

4.  Add the chopped chicken and bring the soup to a boil.  Reduce to low heat, and cook for one hour at a gentle simmer (adjusting heat as necessary). At this point you can cover the pot most of the way, leaving the lid tilted just a bit so the steam can escape.  Your whole house should smell delicious at this point!  Check on the soup from time to time, to make sure it's simmering nicely. If it starts looking to thick, just add some extra water or chicken broth (the grains will absorb liquid).  

5. Taste, adjust seasonings as you wish, and serve!



Short on time?  Use a food processor to chop the veggies, rather than doing it by hand.

Short on money?  Purchase bone-in chicken thighs (usually cheaper than boneless), and remove the skin.  Throw the whole thing in the soup and simmer on medium high for at least 1 1/2 hours.  This makes your own chicken broth, so you can eliminate boxed chicken broth with this method.  You will need to adjust the seasonings and salt accordingly.

Freezer rating: 10 (10 being the best, 1 the worst)