Chicken, barley and lentil soup

This soup needs to be cooked when you have a bit of time on your hands as it takes about an hour to put together but you can just taste how nourishing it is.  I cooked it on a hot summer day in Sydney that had started off with a cool, overcast morning, can't wait to enjoy it on a cold winter's day.  This soup was based on a recipe by Jane Strode.



Chicken, barley and lentil soup



Prep time:

15 mins

Cook time:

1 hour

Total time:

1 hour 15 mins




  • ⅓ cup (80ml) olive oil

  • 2 brown onions, finely sliced

  • 6 cloves garlic, finely sliced

  • 1 cup pearl barley

  • 1.5L chicken stock

  • 1 cup French green (puy) lentils

  • 6 dried bay leaves

  • 20 sprigs thyme

  • 4 chicken thigh fillets, sliced

  • 2 handfuls baby spinach


  1. Sear the chicken until browned all over for about 5 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside. Place oil, onions and garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat. Season with pepper and cook until soft and starting to colour, about 20mins.

  2. Add barley and stock, bring to a simmer and cook a further 10mins. Add lentils, bay leaves and thyme; cook a further 20mins or until lentils and barley are tender. Add chicken and season with salt. Cook a further 5mins or until chicken is just cooked through.

  3. To serve, warm soup over medium heat, add spinach and cook until just wilted. Garnish with a dollop of pesto (see note).

  4. TIP:

  5. Place leftover soup in small zip-lock bags and freeze – the single serves are convenient for work lunches or a quick dinner. Add extra spinach and pesto just before serving. Will keep for up to 6 weeks.


To make pesto, place 1 cup basil leaves,  ½ cup pine nuts, ¼ cup grated parmesan and 2 cloves garlic in a food processor and blend to a smooth paste. Gradually add 1/4 cup (70ml) extra virgin olive oil, processing to combine. Place in a clean container, cover with a little extra oil and refrigerate. Will keep for up to 4 weeks.[br]Prep: 20mins. Cooking: 1hr 5mins. Makes 2L.


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