Turkey Barley Soup

This mellow, velvety soup filled with barley and vegetables is a perfect place for your leftover Thanksgiving turkey. It’s savory, herby and very warming on a cold winter evening, makes you want to cozy up to the fireplace.

If you want to make your own stock from the turkey bones, please do, the soup will be even richer. But store-bought stock works, just not as flavorful, but it makes this straightforward recipe quicker to put together. Brown rice makes an excellent barley substitute, though you may have to add a few minutes to the cooking time.

In Step 3, The Hubs was afraid that the barley would suck up too much liquid, so he cooked them separately in water and then added to the soup pot with the turkey. I left the original directions as written, so it’s up to you what you want to do with the barley.

Turkey Barley Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into ½-inch coins
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tsp. fine salt, plus more as needed
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 4 parsley sprigs, plus 1 cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 qts. turkey or chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • ¾ cup pearled barley
  • 2 to 3 cups shredded or chopped leftover turkey
  • 1 lemon, halved


  1. In a large soup pot over medium-high, melt butter, or heat the oil until shimmering. Add carrot, celery and onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned at the edges, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and sage, and sauté for a minute, until fragrant. Stir in salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne.
  2. Tie the thyme and parsley sprigs and the bay leaf together with a piece of kitchen twine to make a bouquet garni and add to the pot (or just throw the herbs directly into the pot; you’ll just have to fish them out later).
  3. Add stock and barley* (see above note) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until barley is almost done, about 30 minutes. Add turkey and cook until barley is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes longer.
  4. Remove from heat and remove the bouquet garni or herbs. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into the soup, and stir in chopped parsley. Taste and add more salt, pepper and lemon juice, if you like. Cut the remaining lemon half into wedges. Garnish soup with more parsley, and serve with lemon wedges.


Adapted from a recipe by Melissa Clark for NYTimes Cooking

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