Root and barley soup recipe

(1233 ratings)

Keep warm this winter with this simple and hearty root and barley soup recipe perfect for lunch or dinner. Serve with warm crusty bread and enjoy

  • healthy
  • healthy
Preparation Time15 mins
Cooking Time50 mins
Total Time1 hours 5 mins
Cost RangeCheap
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories259 Kcal13%
Fat1.6 g2%
Saturated Fat0.3 g2%

This warming winter soup is a real January fixer: healthy, filling and economical, at only £1.33 per serving. 

Root and barley soup is so chunky and rib-sticking, it makes a full meal in itself, especially if you serve it up with a hunk of crusty bread to dip. It's really more like a chicken stew: quintessential bowl food for cold days. We've used bone-in chicken thighs for this recipe - much tastier and cheaper than chicken breasts. Cooking the soup with the bone adds more flavour. But don't worry, you remove the bones during the cooking process. At this point they are cooked and the meat should shred off them easily.


  • 1.5 litres chicken stock
  • 4 chicken thighs on the bone, skinned, with fat removed
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 small bay leaves and a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary
  • 1kg mixed winter veg — we used carrot, turnip, swede, parsnip and celeriac
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 150g pearl barley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly chopped parsley, to garnish




  1. Bring the stock to the boil, then add the chicken thighs, onion and herbs. Cover and simmer over a low heat for 20 mins until the meat is tender.
  2. Peel and chop all the winter vegetables and trim and chop the celery. Take the chicken out of the pan with a draining spoon and set it aside.
  3. Put all the vegetables in the pan. Bring to the boil, then stir in the barley. Bring back to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 mins or until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Meanwhile, take the meat off the thigh bones, shred it and keep it warm. Season the soup and ladle it into bowls. Top with shreds of chicken and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with chunks of bread.

Top tips for making root and barley soup

This soup can be made even more economical by using up whatever old veggies and leftover meat you have to hand. Roast beef, lamb or turkey would all work well.  There is no need to simmer the meat if they are previously cooked leftovers. Simply reduce the simmering time in step 1 to five minutes, before adding the vegetables. Towards the end of the 30 minutes simmering in step 3 add the meat, shredded or cut into strips, so it has time to heat through fully before serving.

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Jessica Dady
Food Editor

Jessica Dady is Food Editor at GoodtoKnow and has over 12 years of experience as a digital editor, specialising in all things food, recipes, and SEO. From the must-buy seasonal food hampers and advent calendars for Christmas to the family-friendly air fryers that’ll make dinner time a breeze, Jessica loves trying and testing various food products to find the best of the best for the busy parents among us. Over the years of working with GoodtoKnow, Jessica has had the privilege of working alongside Future’s Test Kitchen to create exclusive videos - as well as writing, testing, and shooting her own recipes. When she’s not embracing the great outdoors with her family at the weekends, Jessica enjoys baking up a storm in the kitchen with her favourite bakes being chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, and a tray of gooey chocolate brownies