Chicken, barley and vegetable soup

Karen Martini
Soup for the soul: Add any herbs to the stock to enhance this chicken and barley soup.
Soup for the soul: Add any herbs to the stock to enhance this chicken and barley soup. Photo: Marcel Aucar

I always try to buy the best chicken I can, one that's spent plenty of time outdoors and had the chance to forage for plenty of worms and bugs in organic pasture. Naturally this comes at a cost, and it makes even more sense to use every bit of the bird. A leftover roast chicken carcass with a bit of meat still on the leg is all the inspiration you need to make this delicious soup.


120g pearl barley (or brown rice)

40ml extra-virgin olive oil

1 large brown onion, finely diced

4 large cloves garlic, finely sliced

4 stalks celery, cut lengthways in three and then finely sliced

2 leeks, sliced in rounds

2 carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2 cm dice

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground fennel

2 tsp sweet paprika

3 fresh bay leaves

1/4 cabbage, roughly chopped

1/2 bunch silverbeet, shredded, including most of the stem

Salt flakes

Freshly ground black pepper

2 handfuls green beans, cut in 2cm lengths

2 zucchini, cut in 1cm dice


1 leftover roast chicken carcass with at least one leg intact

4-5 black peppercorns

4 cloves garlic, skin on, smashed

1 large brown onion, skin on, quartered

1 fresh bay leaf

1 vegetable stock cube


1. To make the stock, pick off all the meat left on the carcass and the leg. Chop the meat into about half centimetre dice and set aside.

2. Place the bones, skin and any jelly and fat into a large pot with the peppercorns, garlic, onion, bay leaf and crumbled stock cube and cover with cold water. Bring the pot to the simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

3. Strain off the liquid and discard the bones and aromatics. You should have about 1 1/2 to 2 litres of liquid.

4. To make the soup, simmer the barley for 10 minutes, drain and set aside.

5. In a large saucepan over medium heat add the virgin oil, onion and garlic and cook for about four minutes or until softened.

6. Add the celery, leek and carrot and cook over a low to medium heat for about 20 minutes or until caramelised.

7. Add the spices, bay leaves, cabbage and silverbeet, season and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes.

8. Add the beans, zucchini, barley and the stock, bring to the simmer and cook for 20 minutes (adding more water if needed).

9. Stir through the reserved chicken, simmer briefly, adjust the seasoning if necessary and serve.


1. Throw any herbs you have, such as thyme sprigs, oregano or parsley stalks, into the stock.

2. Fresh fennel is great in this, and you can also add a handful of frozen peas at the end.